A federal contractor is a person or company that provides services to the federal government. Since the government does not employ its own army of construction workers, every time the government wants to build something it needs to hire a federal contractor. For instance, suppose that the government wants to build a new building. The government would need to hire a federal contractor to manage the project, and that contractor would likely hire various subcontractors to handle each individual part of the project, from the masonry and ironwork to laying the carpet inside the building.
Each year, the government spends hundreds of billions of dollars on construction projects ranging from new bridges and roads to office buildings and solar panel projects. While it is unknown exactly how many people work for federal contractors and subcontractors, it is safe to say that the number is large, especially in California.
California is consistently ranked as the top state for federal construction projects. As of June 2016, the federal government had already awarded over $160 billion in federal contracts to California contractors like The Boeing Company, Raytheon Company, Northrop Grumman, and the California Institute of Technology.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor updated its rules on Stockton sexual discrimination by federal contractors and subcontractors for the first time in over 40 years. The DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs updated the regulations that protect employees in order to bring these rules up to date with current sex discrimination laws and the changing realities of the American workforce.
The rules, which were last updated in 1970, are now aligned with other federal regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. The new regulations should resolve any ambiguity in the current rules, and should clarify federal contractors’ responsibilities to their employees.
Under the new regulations, federal contractors are prohibited from discriminating against employees and applicants due to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin. In addition, the rules prohibit retaliation or discrimination against employees who discuss their compensation with each other.
The rules also require contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to ensure that all types of applicants are considered for open positions, regardless of their race, religion, gender, or other protected characteristics.
The regulations will apply to any federal contractor or subcontractor that wins a contract (or has several contracts) worth $10,000 or more, or contractors who handle certain types of government funds and assets.
In addition to the standard prohibition against discrimination, the regulations clarify actions that count as discrimination on the basis of sex. According to the DOL, sex discrimination can include any type of disparate treatment, unequal pay, or discrimination due to pregnancy, childbirth, a medical condition related to childbirth or pregnancy, gender identity, transgender statutes, or sexual stereotypes.
While the new regulations are very similar to existing prohibitions against discrimination, the additional guidance will provide welcome clarification on employer responsibilities for federal contractors and subcontractors. In addition to state and federal statutes, employees who work for federal contractors will now have an additional layer of protection from discrimination.
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