Executive Order on Sexual Harrassment and Pay Transparency
Late last month, President Donald Trump revoked the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” order, put in place by former President Barack Obama in 2014.
Doing so opened up federal contracts to companies that had run afoul of existing labor laws.
· Two of the restrictions removed by the decision were specifically intended to protect women workers, as NBC News reported. One forced federal contractors to comply with paycheck transparency — laying out salaries, pay scales and bonuses for their companies to see if they were paying women workers less than male colleagues with similar experience. The other was a ban on federal contractors using mandatory arbitration clauses to settle claims for sexual harassment and discrimination. Arbitration is a process where such claims are adjudicated in private proceedings that keep the claims out of courts — and by extension, out of the public record. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office found 60 percent of federal contractors had violated certain labor laws, but similar data was not available on sexual assault and harassment claims, because of the privacy afforded by the arbitration process.
· When Trump signed the bill, the Washington Times described it as a continuation of the president’s “deregulation binge.” It quoted Trump saying the order he was revoking had been a “disaster,” and promising to continue using his pen to “remove every job-killing-regulation we can find.”
· As the Washington Post reported, most of the Obama-era regulations were never actually implemented, after the Associated Builders and Contractors sued over them and won a temporary injunction. The bill signed by Trump that revoked the protections passed both the House and the Senate on party-line votes. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said revoking the bill would make it easier for contractors to get taxpayer dollars to injure workers without accepting responsibility; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said it unfairly keeps companies from securing federal work if they’ve been accused of violating labor law.
· Republicans passed and Trump signed the bill through a rarely-used procedure known as the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress more quickly pass legislation that reverses regulations, as USA Today reported. The Congressional Review Act had been used once in the last 21 years, but Trump has signed bills passed using it seven times already.