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OFCCP clarifies and requests comments on Executive Order 13950 re EEO training by government contractors

On 9/22/2020 President Trump issued Executive Order 13950, which appears to prohibit government contractors who are subject to Executive Order 11246 (OFCCP jurisdiction) from undertaking EEO training that, merely reading the order on its face, might possibly even implicit bias trainings. In today’s Federal Register, 85 FR 67375, the OFCCP initiated rulemaking under the new Executive Order by soliciting “comments, information, and material” re such trainings.

In a widely reported and documented speech, U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia confirmed that Executive Order 13950 does not prohibit common EEO trainings, even those that include training on implicit bias.

I should be clear about what the President’s new Order does not do. It does not prohibit workplace training about non-discrimination and equal opportunity—that training is important, the Labor Department encourages it, and in some instances we require it. Nor does the Order prohibit the diversity training offered by countless American employers; training that, like my remarks today, emphasizes the importance of recognizing the value and worth of people of all races and creeds. American employers should value diversity and take extra strides to assure opportunity for those who in the past have been denied it—although they must do so in a way that does not discriminate against others based on race, ethnicity, or other protected characteristics. Finally, the President’s Order does not prohibit trainings about pre-conceptions or biases that people may have—regardless of their race or sex—about people who are different, and which could cause slights or even discrimination that’s not intended. What the Order does prohibit, though, is instruction in which federal contractors tell workers that because of their particular race or sex, they are racist, morally culpable, or less worthy of being heard.

Rather, he announced, and the OFCCP’s regulatory publication today confirms, that Executive Order 13950 is getting at something it calls “race or sex scapegoating.” It is not clear what this term means since, as today’s regulatory publication confirms it has long already been prohibited as a subset (just one kind, or one example, of) what was already prohibited: “race or sex stereotyping.” The OFCCP explains this in today’s rulemaking publication, as follows:

As used in this request for information, “race or sex stereotyping” means “ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of his or her race or sex.” [4Race or sex scapegoating” means “assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex,” and includes claims “that, consciously or unconsciously, and by virtue of his or her race or sex, members of any race are inherently racist or are inherently inclined to oppress others, or that members of a sex are inherently sexist or inclined to oppress others.” 

In short, Executive Order 13950 apparently does not prohibit the common kinds of EEO training, including on implicit bias, that companies currently use to combat race and sex discrimination, including unlawful harassment. It does apparently prohibit training that accuses the members of a particular gender or race of being “inherently inclined to oppress others.”

Denver ordinance increases prevailing wages and penalties for contractors starting January 1, 2017

The Denver City Council passed an ordinance, effective January 1, 2017, increasing prevailing wage rates. Fines more than doubled, and the ability to impose debarment was enhanced. The ordinance extends, now, to contracts using City funds or City-owned or -leased lands, though, language was added to clarify that does not extend to most uses by way of license or permit. Under the new ordinance, the prevailing wage anniversary date will be the bid date, rather than the contract’s start date, which means prevailing wage increases will be triggered sooner each year.

The ordinance is Council Bill No. CB16-0985.