• Publication Date:
  • Publication Type:
    Final Rule
  • Fed Register #:
    81:58653-58768
  • Standard Number:
  • Title:
    Guidance for Executive Order 13673, "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces"; Final Guidance
[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 165 (Thursday, August 25, 2016)][Rules and Regulations][Pages 58653-58768]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-19678] 

Vol. 81
Thursday,
No. 165
August 25, 2016
Part III
Department of Labor





-----------------------------------------------------------------------





 Office of the Secretary





-----------------------------------------------------------------------





48 CFR Parts 22 and 52





Guidance for Executive Order 13673, "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces"; 
Final Guidance

Federal Register / Vol. 81 , No. 165 / Thursday, August 25, 2016 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 58654]]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Office of the Secretary

48 CFR Parts 22 and 52

ZRIN 1290-ZA02


Guidance for Executive Order 13673, "Fair Pay and Safe 
Workplaces"

AGENCY: Department of Labor.

ACTION: Final guidance.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Department of Labor (the Department) is publishing final 
guidance (the Guidance) to assist the Federal Acquisition Regulatory 
Council (the FAR Council) and Federal contracting agencies in the 
implementation of Executive Order 13673, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces. 
Executive Order 13673 (the Order) contains new requirements designed to 
increase efficiency and cost savings in the Federal contracting 
process. By law, Federal agencies already must contract only with 
"responsible" sources. Among other directives, the Order provides 
explicit new instructions for Federal contracting officers to consider 
a contractor's compliance with certain Federal and State labor laws as 
a part of the determination of contractor "responsibility" that 
contracting officers presently must undertake before awarding a Federal 
contract. In addition, the Order directs the FAR Council to propose the 
rules and regulations necessary to carry out the Order and the 
Department to develop guidance to help implement the new requirements. 
In this final Guidance, the Department provides detailed definitions 
for various terms used in the Order and the FAR rule to categorize and 
classify labor law violations, and the Department provides a summary of 
the processes through which contracting agencies will assess a 
contractor's overall record of labor law compliance and carry out their 
other duties under the Order.

DATES: This final Guidance is being published simultaneously with the 
FAR Council's final rule. The final FAR rule is published elsewhere in 
this issue of the Federal Register and is effective on October 25, 
2016. Contractors and Federal agencies may use this Guidance beginning 
August 25, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephanie Swirsky, Deputy Assistant 
Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-2312, 200 
Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-
5959 (this is not a toll-free number). Copies of this final Guidance 
may be obtained in alternative formats (large print, Braille, audio 
tape or disc), upon request, by calling (202) 693-5959 (this is not a 
toll-free number). TTY/TDD callers may dial toll-free [1-877-889-5627] 
to obtain information or request materials in alternative formats.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Department publishes this final Guidance 
to assist in the implementation of Executive Order 13673, Fair Pay and 
Safe Workplaces, dated July 31, 2014 (79 FR 45309, Aug. 5, 2014). 
Executive Order 13673 was amended by Executive Order 13683, December 
11, 2014 (79 FR 75041, Dec. 16, 2014) to correct a statutory citation. 
The Order was further amended by Executive Order to modify the handling 
of subcontractor disclosures and clarify the requirements for public 
disclosure of documents.

Table of Contents

I. Background
    A. GAO Studies of Federal Procurement
    B. State and Local Responsible-Contracting Policies
II. Summary of the Executive Order
III. Overview of the Final Guidance
IV. Summary of Comments Received
V. Discussion of General Comments
    A. Comments Requesting Changes to the Order or the Proposed FAR 
Rule
    B. Comments About Costs and Burdens of the Order
    C. Comments About Alternatives and the Need for the Order
    D. Comments About the Legal Authority for the Order

Section-By-Section Analysis

I. Purpose and Summary of the Order
II. Preaward Disclosure Requirements (Formerly "Disclosure 
Requirements")
    A. Covered Contracts (Formerly "Who Must Make Disclosures Under 
the Order")
    B. Labor Law Decisions (Formerly "What Triggers the Disclosure 
Obligations")
    1. Defining "Administrative Merits Determination"
    2. Defining "Civil Judgment"
    3. Defining "Arbitral Award or Decision"
    4. Successive Labor Law Decisions Arising From the Same 
Underlying Violation
    C. Information That Must Be Disclosed (Formerly "What 
Information Must Be Disclosed")
III. Preaward Assessment and Advice (Formerly "Weighing Violations 
of the Labor Laws")
    A. Classifying Labor Law Violations
    1. Serious Violations
    2. Repeated Violations
    3. Willful Violations
    4. Pervasive Violations
    B. Weighing Labor Law Violations and Mitigating Factors 
(Formerly "Assessing Violations and Considering Mitigating 
Factors")
    1. Mitigating Factors That Weigh in Favor of a Satisfactory 
Record of Labor Law Compliance
    2. Factors That Weigh Against a Satisfactory Record of Labor Law 
Compliance
    C. Advice Regarding a Contractor's Record of Labor Law 
Compliance
IV. Postaward Disclosure and Assessment of Labor Law Violations
V. Subcontractor Responsibility
VI. Preassessment
VII. Paycheck Transparency
    A. Wage Statement Provisions
    1. Rate of Pay
    2. Itemizing Additions To and Deductions From Wages
    3. Information To Be Included in the Wage Statement
    4. Weekly Accounting of Overtime Hours Worked
    5. Electronic Wage Statements
    6. Substantially Similar State Laws
    7. Request to Delay Effective Date
    8. FLSA Exempt-Status Notification
    B. Independent Contractor Notice
    1. Clarifying the Information in the Notice
    2. Independent Contractor Determination
    3. Frequency of the Independent Contractor Notice
    4. Workers Employed by Staffing Agencies
    5. Translation Requirements
VIII. Effective Date and Phase-In of Requirements
IX. Other Comments
    A. Public Availability of Disclosures and Assessment Information
    B. Participation of Third-Parties
    C. Anti-retaliation and Whistleblower Protections for Reporting 
Information

I. Background

    Spending on Federal contracts has almost doubled since 2000, and it 
has substantially increased as a percentage of total Federal 
spending.\1\ This increase has spurred new attention by Congress and 
the current administration to address inefficiencies and gaps in 
oversight of Federal contractors and subcontractors, including through 
investment in new information-technology systems and guidance for the 
Federal contracting officers who do the critical day-to-day work of 
managing billions of dollars in contracts. Executive Order 13673, Fair 
Pay and Safe Workplaces (the Order), is one of several of such 
initiatives intended to provide new information, tools, and guidance 
for contracting officers to better serve in their roles as gatekeepers 
for and stewards of Federal agency resources.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ In 2000, total spending on Federal contracts was $276.9 
billion; by 2012, that number had increased to $518.4 billion. See 
Cong. Budget Office, "Federal Contracts and the Contracted 
Workforce," Letter from Director Douglas Elmendorff 1, 4 (Mar. 11, 
2015), Table 1, available at https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/reports/49931-FederalContracts.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Order reinforces current Federal procurement procedures. 
Existing law requires Federal agencies to contract

only with "responsible" sources.\2\ To implement this responsibility 
requirement, an agency contracting officer must make an affirmative 
determination of a contractor's responsibility before the contracting 
officer makes any contract award.\3\ Under existing law, a contractor 
must have "a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics" to 
be a responsible source.\4\ To strengthen this requirement, the Order 
now instructs contracting officers to consider whether a contractor has 
a history of certain labor law violations within the last three years 
as a factor in determining if the contractor has such a satisfactory 
record.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ 10 U.S.C. 2305(b); 41 U.S.C. 3703. This requirement dates to 
1884. See Act of July 5, 1884, ch. 217, 23 Stat. 107, 109. The 
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) contains a similar requirement. 
See FAR 9.103(a). The FAR can be found at title 48 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations. Citations in this Guidance to the FAR use 
format FAR [section] instead of 48 CFR [section].
    \3\ FAR 9.103(b). Agency "contracting officers" are the only 
Federal officials who can enter into and sign contracts on behalf of 
the Government. Id. 1.601. Contracting officers have authority to 
enter into, administer, or terminate contracts and make related 
determinations and findings. Id. 1.602-1(a). They also have the 
responsibility to ensure that all requirements of law, Executive 
orders, regulations, and all other applicable procedures, including 
clearances and approvals, have been met. Id. 1.602-1(b).
    \4\ 41 U.S.C. 113(4); FAR 9.104-1(d).
    \5\ See Order, sections 2(a)(ii) and (iii).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Numerous violations of applicable laws in the course of business 
operations should raise questions about a contractor's integrity and 
business ethics. Even the most limited definition of "business 
ethics" requires a business to obey the law.\6\ Despite this fact, 
multiple studies conducted over the last two decades suggest that 
consideration of contractor labor law violations during the Federal 
procurement process has been the exception rather than the rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ See Milton Friedman, "The Social Responsibility of Business 
is to Increase Its Profits," New York Times Magazine (Sept. 13, 
1970); see also Rob Atkinson, "Growing Greener Grass: Looking from 
Legal Ethics to Business Ethics, and Back," 1 U. St. Thomas L.J. 
951, 969 (2004) ("A great deal of business ethics focuses on 
precisely this issue: What norms, beyond the minima of obeying the 
law and making a profit, govern what business managers should 
do?"). While court cases addressing the relationship between labor 
violations and "integrity and business ethics" are not common, the 
Comptroller General has, on occasion, concluded that the violation 
of various labor-related laws can support a finding of lack of 
integrity and business ethics. See, e.g., ALM, Inc., B-225679 et. 
al, 87-1 CPD ] 493, at 1-2 (Comp. Gen. May 8, 1987) (discussing 
alleged violations of the Service Contract Act (SCA) in the context 
of FAR 9.104-1(d)); Gen. Painting Co., B-219449, 85-2 CPD ] 530 at 4 
(Comp. Gen. Nov. 8, 1985) (discussing failure to fulfill minimum 
wage requirements as a potential basis for nonresponsibility under 
FAR section 9.104-1(d)); Wash. Moving & Storage Co., B-175845, 1973 
WL 8012, at 2 (Comp. Gen. Mar. 9, 1973) (upholding NASA's debarment 
of contractor for failure to comply with labor laws).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

A. GAO Studies of Federal Procurement

    In the mid-1990s, the congressional General Accounting Office 
(GAO), now known as the Government Accountability Office, issued two 
reports finding that Federal contracts worth billions of dollars had 
been awarded to companies that had violated the National Labor 
Relations Act (NLRA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the 
OSH Act).\7\ The GAO observed that contracting agencies already had the 
authority to consider these violations when awarding Federal contracts 
under the existing regulations, but were not doing so because they 
lacked adequate information about contractors' noncompliance.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ See U.S. General Accounting Office, GAO/HEHS-96-8, "Worker 
Protection: Federal Contractors and Violations of Labor Law," 
Report to Senator Paul Simon (1995) (documenting awards to companies 
that had violated the NLRA), available at http://www.gao.gov/assets/230/221816.pdf; U.S. General Accounting Office, GAO/HEHS-96-157, 
"Occupational Safety and Health: Violations of Safety and Health 
Regulations by Federal Contractors," Report to Congressional 
Requesters (1996) (documenting awards to companies that had violated 
safety-and-health regulations), available at http://www.gao.gov/assets/230/223113.pdf.
    \8\ See U.S. General Accounting Office, GAO/T-HEHS-98-212, 
"Federal Contractors: Historical Perspective on Noncompliance With 
Labor and Worker Safety Laws," Statement of Cornelia Blanchette 
before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee 
on Education and the Workforce, House of Representatives, 2 (July 
14, 1998) (drawing conclusions from the 1995 and 1996 GAO reports 
cited above in note 8), available at http://www.gao.gov/assets/110/107539.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Over a decade later, with contracting expenditures escalating, the 
GAO again found a similar pattern. Looking at the companies that had 
the largest wage violations and workplace health-and-safety penalties 
from fiscal years 2005 to 2009, the GAO found that a surprisingly high 
percentage of those companies subsequently received Federal 
contracts.\9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-10-1033, 
"Federal Contracting: Assessments and Citations of Federal Labor 
Law Violations by Selected Federal Contractors," Report to 
Congressional Requesters 7-8 (2010), available at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d101033.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A 2013 report by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions 
(HELP) Committee corroborated these findings. That report reviewed 
violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other laws 
enforced by the Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and 
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) between 2007 and 
2012 and found that some 49 Federal contractors were responsible for 
1,776 separate violations of these laws and paid $196 million in 
penalties and back wage assessments.\10\ In 2012, those same companies 
were awarded $81 billion in Federal contracts.\11\ Looking at the 100 
largest wage and OSHA violations, the Committee found that 35 Federal 
contractors had violated both wage and safety-and-health laws.\12\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ Majority Staff of Senate Committee on Health, Education, 
Labor, and Pensions, "Acting Responsibly? Federal Contractors 
Frequently Put Workers' Lives and Livelihoods at Risk," 1 (2013) 
(hereinafter HELP Committee Report), available at http://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Labor%20Law%20Violations%20by%20Contractors%20Report.pdf.
    \11\ Id.
    \12\ Id. at 18.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As the GAO had done 15 years earlier, the HELP Committee Report 
noted that contracting officers had the legal authority to consider 
labor law violations during the procurement process, but were not doing 
so. The Committee noted that contracting officers generally do not seek 
information regarding responsibility matters outside of the limited 
databases they are required by law to review.\13\ And, even if they did 
have access to such information, the report found, contracting officers 
would be reluctant to act on it because of a lack of guidance regarding 
when labor law violations add up to an unsatisfactory record of 
integrity and business ethics.\14\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ Id. at 25.
    \14\ Id. at 27-28.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. State and Local Responsible-Contracting Policies

    During the decades in which the GAO and HELP Committee studies of 
Federal procurement were conducted, many State and local governments 
responded to similar challenges by incorporating labor standards into 
contracting policies.\15\ Preaward screening for labor
law violations became standard practice in some State and local 
jurisdictions in the form of pre-qualification programs.\16\ These 
programs have "come to be viewed in the public contracting field as a 
best practice and a key management strategy." \17\ In North Carolina, 
for example, contractors must be prequalified to bid on projects for 
the State's Department of Transportation. As part of this 
prequalification, contractors have to disclose whether they have 
received any final or nonfinal repeat or willful OSHA violations within 
the past 2 years, and they must include copies of those violations with 
the prequalification application.\18\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ See Paul K. Sonn & Tsedeye Gebreselassie, The Road to 
Responsible Contracting: Lessons from States and Cities for Ensuring 
That Federal Contracting Delivers Good Jobs and Quality Services, 31 
Berkeley J. Emp. & Lab. L. 459, 464-87 (2010) (listing examples). In 
addition, responsible-contractor policies have been increasingly 
employed by private actors. As one safety consultant for a Fortune 
500 company noted, "[i]n the long term, carefully selected 
contractors are amazingly superior to those chosen based on cost or 
supposed productivity. The front-end investment for careful 
selection delivers an ROI far beyond the cost to go through the 
'dating-engagement-marriage' process." Mike Williamsen, "Choosing 
Great Contractors for Your Needs," Indus. Hygiene News (July/Aug. 
2012), available at http://www.rimbach.com/cgi-bin/Article/IHN/Number.idc?Number=559. These sorts of long-term benefits also make 
responsible-contractor policies attractive to large pension funds, 
the largest of which, CALPERS, has had a responsible-contractor 
policy in place for almost 20 years. See California Public 
Employees' Retirement System, "Statement of Investment Policy for 
Responsible Contractor Program," 7, 16 (2015), available at https://www.calpers.ca.gov/docs/policy-responsible-contractor-2015.pdf.
    \16\ Daniel D. McMillan, Erich R. Luschei, "Prequalification of 
Contractors by State and Local Agencies: Legal Standards and 
Procedural Traps," Constr. Law., Spring 2007, at 21, 22 ("Public 
owners in numerous states now view prequalification as a useful, if 
not essential, element to ensure successful completion of 
construction projects.").
    \17\ Sonn & Gebreselassie, supra note 15 at 477.
    \18\ North Carolina Dep't of Transp., Subcontractor 
Prequalification Form, 14 (2014), available at https://connect.ncdot.gov/business/Prequal/Documents/Subcontractor%20Prequalification%20Form.pdf. The States of 
California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have similar programs 
applicable to a broad array of public works. See Sonn & 
Gebreselassie, supra note 15 at 474-76. Other examples include the 
Illinois Department of Transportation; the City of Los Angeles; the 
Los Angeles Unified School District; the Santa Clara County, CA, 
Valley Transportation Authority; and the statute authorizing the 
construction of the Atlanta Beltline. Id. at 476 (discussing 
policies of the Illinois Department of Transportation and the City 
of Los Angeles); McMillan et al., supra note 16 at 22 (discussing 
the Los Angeles Unified School District program); P'ship for Working 
Families, "Policy & Tools: Responsible Contracting," http://www.forworkingfamilies.org/page/policy-tools-responsible-contracting 
(last visited July 11, 2016) (discussing for the Santa Clara and 
Atlanta examples); see also 44 Ill. Admin. Code 650.240 (2006) 
(implementing prequalification for the Illinois Department of 
Transportation).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Research tracking the results of these State and local efforts and 
of other similar Federal programs has suggested that responsible-
contracting policies--including those policies that require payment of 
prevailing wages--can have a positive effect on contract performance, 
at limited cost and without negatively affecting competition. One 
recent study analyzed State and Federal highway-construction contracts 
in Colorado between 2000 and 2011 and found no statistically 
significant difference in the cost of the State projects, despite the 
additional prevailing-wage regulations on the federally financed 
projects.\19\ The study found that the Federal regulations were "not 
associated with reduced bid competition, an important determinant of 
project cost." \20\ Similarly, a study of local prevailing wage 
regulations in California in 2012 showed that the regulations "[did] 
not decrease the number of bidders nor alter the bidding behavior of 
contractors relative to the... value of the project." \21\ And a 
recent study of the use of local responsible-contractor policies across 
the State of Ohio showed no statistically discernible impact on school 
construction bid costs.\22\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \19\ Kevin Duncan, "The Effect of Federal Davis-Bacon and 
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Regulations on Highway Maintenance 
Costs," 68 ILR Review 212 (2015).
    \20\ Id.
    \21\ Jaewhan Kim et al., "The Effect of Prevailing Wage 
Regulations on Contractor Bid Participation and Behavior," 54 
Indus. Relations 874 (2012).
    \22\ C. Jeffrey Waddoups & David C. May, "Do Responsible 
Contractor Policies Increase Construction Bid Costs?," 53 Indus. 
Relations, 273 (2014). Similarly, studies of local living-wage 
policies have shown "only a modest impact on costs, if any." See 
Sonn & Gebreselassie, supra note 15 at 480. A study of Baltimore's 
1994 living-wage policy, for example, found a contract cost increase 
of just 1.2 percent, lower than the rate of inflation. See id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    These studies have shown that strengthening procurement labor 
standards and contractor labor-law compliance policies can play an 
important role in appropriately managing competition in procurement. 
When correctly managed, competition between contractors can increase 
accountability and the quality of services provided.\23\ However, where 
compliance with legal norms is weak, price competition alone may 
instead result in an increase in unlawful behavior and poor contract 
performance.\24\ State and local responsible-contracting policies have 
shown that contracting agencies can improve the quality of competition 
by encouraging bids from more responsible contractors that might 
otherwise abstain from bidding out of concern about not being able to 
compete with less scrupulous corner-cutting companies.\25\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \23\ See Kate Manuel, Cong. Research Serv., R40516, 
"Competition in Federal Contracting: An Overview of the Legal 
Requirements," 2-3 (2011) (discussing benefits and costs associated 
with competition in Federal contracting).
    \24\ See, e.g., Melissa S. Baucus & Janet P. Near, "Can Illegal 
Corporate Behavior Be Predicted? An Event History Analysis," 34 
Acad. Mgmt. J., 9, 31 (1991) ("If a firm's major competitors in an 
industry are performing well, in part as a result of illegal 
activities, it becomes difficult for managers to choose only legal 
actions, and they may regard illegal actions as a standard industry 
practice.").
    \25\ See Sonn & Gebreselassie, supra note 16 at 477, 480; see 
also Maryland Dep't of Legislative Servs., "Impact of the Maryland 
Living Wage," 10 (2008), available at  http://dlslibrary.state.md.us/publications/OPA/I/IMLW_2008.pdf (finding 
that the average number of bidders for service contracts increased 
from 3.7 bidders to 4.7 bidders after Maryland's living-wage law 
took effect).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In sum, studies of State and local initiatives have shown that--by 
properly managing competition--responsible-contractor policies can 
deliver better quality without significant cost increases for 
government agencies that employ them.
    The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order applies lessons learned from 
these developments in State and local contracting policy, and, by doing 
so, addresses the longstanding deficiencies highlighted in the GAO 
reports.

II. Summary of the Executive Order

    Executive Order 13673 (the Order) was signed by President Barack 
Obama on July 31, 2014. The Order contains three discrete parts, each 
designed to help executive departments and agencies identify and work 
with contractors who will comply with labor laws while performing 
Federal contracts.
    The first part of the Order directs agency contracting officers to 
consider contractors' records of labor law violations as the agencies 
make certain contracting decisions. To assure that contracting officers 
have sufficient information, the Order requires contractors to disclose 
their recent labor law violations to contracting officers. 
Specifically, the Order requires contractors to disclose violations of 
14 Federal labor laws and Executive orders and equivalent State laws 
(collectively, "Labor Laws"). The Order instructs contracting 
officers to review a contractor's Labor Law violations to assess the 
contractor's record of Labor Law compliance during the preaward 
"responsibility" determination and when making postaward decisions 
such as whether to exercise contract options. The Order also creates a 
new position--Agency Labor Compliance Advisors (ALCA)--to assist 
contracting officers.
    The first part of the Order also contains parallel requirements 
that apply to certain subcontractors working on covered contracts. The 
Order, as amended, and the final FAR rule require these covered 
subcontractors to disclose their Labor Law violations to the 
Department, which provides advice regarding subcontractors' records of 
Labor Law compliance. Contractors then consider this advice from the 
Department when determining whether their subcontractors are 
responsible sources.
    The second part of the Order creates new paycheck-transparency 
protections for workers on Federal contracts. This part, section 5 of 
the Order, contains two separate requirements. It requires contracting 
agencies to ensure that certain workers on covered Federal
contracts and subcontracts receive a wage statement that that contains 
information concerning that individual's hours worked, overtime hours, 
pay, and any additions made to or deductions made from pay. It also 
instructs covered contractors and subcontractors to inform individuals 
in writing if the individual is being treated as an independent 
contractor, and not an employee.
    The third part of the Order limits the use of pre-dispute 
arbitration clauses in employment agreements on covered Federal 
contracts.
    The Order creates detailed implementation roles for the FAR 
Council, the Department, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and 
the General Services Administration (GSA). The FAR Council has the 
rulemaking responsibility to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation 
(FAR) to implement the Order. Section 7 of the Order provides that the 
FAR Council will "propose such rules and regulations and issue orders 
as are deemed necessary and appropriate to carry out this order."
    The Order instructs the Secretary of Labor (the Secretary) to, 
among other duties, develop guidance that defines certain terms in the 
Order. The Order directs the Secretary to define the categories of 
Labor Law violations that contractors must disclose (administrative 
merits determinations, civil judgments, and arbitral awards or 
decisions); identify the State laws that are equivalent to the 14 
Federal labor laws for which violations must be disclosed; define the 
terms (serious, repeated, willful, and pervasive) that will be used to 
assess disclosed violations; consult with ALCAs as they carry out their 
responsibilities under the Order; and specify which State wage-
statement laws are substantially similar to the Order's wage-statement 
requirement.
    The Order also directs the Secretary to develop processes for 
regular interagency meetings, develop processes by which contracting 
officers and ALCAs may give appropriate consideration to determinations 
and agreements made by the Department and other enforcement agencies, 
develop processes by which contractors may enter into agreements with 
the Department or other enforcement agencies, and review and improve 
the Department's data collection systems.
    The final Guidance document that follows this SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION contains a more detailed summary of the Order.

III. Overview of the Final Guidance

    Consistent with its obligations under the Order, the Department 
issued its Proposed Guidance on May 28, 2015, on the same date that the 
FAR Council issued its proposed rule to implement the Order. See 80 FR 
30548 (proposed FAR rule); 80 FR 30574 (Proposed Guidance). Both the 
Department and the FAR Council solicited public comment, and the 
initial written comment periods closed on July 27, 2015. In response to 
requests for additional time to comment, however, the Department and 
the FAR Council extended the comment periods through August 26, 2015. 
After reviewing and carefully considering all of the timely submitted 
comments, the FAR Council and the Department are now simultaneously 
publishing final versions of the rule and the Guidance.
    The Proposed Guidance contained sections addressing the purpose and 
summary of the Order, including a discussion of the existing FAR 
framework and the legal authority for the Order; the disclosure 
requirements; weighing Labor Law violations; the paycheck transparency 
provisions; an invitation to comment; and next steps. The Department 
solicited written comments on all aspects of the Proposed Guidance and 
also invited public comment on a variety of specific issues.
    In the final Guidance, the Department has made several significant 
adjustments to accurately describe the modifications that the FAR 
Council made to its rule. In addition, in response to the comments 
about topics specifically tasked to the Department, the Department has 
clarified various definitions of terms used in the Order and included a 
more detailed narrative of the process for disclosing, categorizing, 
and weighing labor law violations.
    The final Guidance, which follows this SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, 
has the same basic structure as the Proposed Guidance with some 
additional sections added for clarity. It contains the following 
sections: (I) Purpose and summary of the Order, (II) Preaward 
disclosure requirements, (III) Preaward assessment and advice, (IV) 
Postaward disclosure and assessment, (V) Subcontractor responsibility, 
(VI) Preassessment, (VII) Paycheck transparency, and (VIII) Effective 
date and phase-in of requirements.
    This Guidance satisfies most of the Department's responsibilities 
for issuing guidance, and the Department will publish at a later date a 
second guidance that satisfies its remaining responsibilities. The 
second guidance will be, as this Guidance was, submitted for notice and 
comment, published in the Federal Register, and accompanied by a 
proposed amendment to the FAR rule. The Department will likewise submit 
for notice and comment and publish any future updates to the Guidance 
that will have a significant effect beyond the operating procedures of 
the Department or that will have a significant cost or administrative 
impact on contractors or offerors. The Department will coordinate with 
the FAR Council in determining whether updates will have a significant 
cost or administrative impact.

IV. Summary of Comments Received

    The Department received 7,924 comments on the Proposed Guidance 
from a wide variety of sources. Among these comments, some 7,784 were 
in the nature of mass mailings expressing general support for the 
Order, the FAR Council's proposed rule, and the Department's Proposed 
Guidance (collectively "the Order and the proposals"). Another 30 
comments were in the nature of form letters, most of which expressed 
general opposition to the Order and the proposals. The Department also 
received an additional 109 individual submissions.
    As discussed above, the FAR Council is issuing the implementing 
regulations for the Order by amending the FAR. The FAR Council 
published its proposed rule on the same date as the Department 
published its Proposed Guidance and similarly extended the comment 
period on the proposed rule to August 26, 2015. The Department and the 
FAR Council have coordinated efforts to assure the comments submitted 
that are relevant to the Guidance or to the FAR rule are shared with 
the appropriate agency, regardless of which agency may have initially 
received any specific comment.
    A wide variety of interested parties submitted comments on the 
Proposed Guidance. Commenters included Members of Congress; State 
executive agencies; individual Federal contractor entities; national 
and State-level employer associations and advocacy organizations; 
professional associations; labor union federations; worker advocacy 
organizations; civil rights and human rights advocacy organizations; 
other non-profit advocacy organizations; and the Small Business 
Administration's Office of Advocacy, among others.
    The Department recognizes and appreciates the value of comments, 
ideas, and suggestions from all those who commented on the proposal, 
and the final Guidance was developed only after consideration of all 
the material submitted.

V. Discussion of General Comments

    This section of the preamble to the final Guidance discusses the 
general comments that the Department received.

A. Comments Requesting Changes to the Order or the Proposed FAR Rule

    Several industry commenters took issue with the text of the Order 
itself. In promulgating the Guidance and rule, the Department and the 
FAR Council are guided by the plain language of the Order. For example, 
several commenters argued that the FAR Council and the Department 
should change the contract value that will trigger the Order's 
disclosure requirements. Yet this $500,000 threshold comes from section 
2 of the Order itself. Comments such as these are generally not 
addressed here.
    Similarly, several commenters from both industry and worker-
advocacy organizations took issue with requirements specific to the FAR 
Council's proposed rule, and not to the Guidance. The government's 
response to these comments will appear in the FAR Council's final rule. 
They are generally not addressed here.

B. Comments About Costs and Burdens of the Order

    A number of employers and employer associations expressed concern 
that the requirements and processes established by the Order and the 
proposals will impose a heavy compliance burden that will increase 
their costs and cause delays in Federal contracting. Several of these 
industry commenters suggested that these potential costs and delays 
would harm the government and the public by increasing bid prices, 
discouraging companies from bidding on Federal contracts, or delaying 
the acquisition of key government goods and services.
    Other commenters expressed general support for the Order and the 
proposals. Several argued that the disclosure requirements do not go 
far enough. These commenters suggested that contractors should be 
required to provide more information about each Labor Law violation 
than proposed by the Department, and argued that all of the information 
disclosed to contracting agencies should be compiled in a public, 
searchable database.
    The Department recognizes that compliance with the Order's and the 
proposals' new requirements and processes will involve costs to 
contractors associated with the required representation and 
disclosures. These costs and burdens are addressed in the Regulatory 
Impact Analysis (RIA) that accompanies the final FAR rule. Accordingly, 
the Department does not specifically list and respond to each comment 
about costs and burdens in this final Guidance document. Likewise, 
comments asserting that the RIA in the proposed FAR rule was flawed are 
addressed by the FAR Council and therefore are not summarized or 
answered here.

C. Comments About Alternatives and the Need for the Order

    Various industry commenters suggested that the Order and its 
requirements are unnecessary because any problems associated with Labor 
Law violations by Federal contractors can be addressed through existing 
rules and processes. Several commenters suggested that problems 
associated with Labor Law violations should be addressed in the 
existing suspension-and-debarment process instead of through the 
preaward responsibility process. Others suggested that the Order's 
disclosure requirements, specifically, are unnecessary because the 
government already obtains information about violations under the laws 
covered by the Order. These commenters argued that enforcement agencies 
already have the necessary information and that the disclosure 
requirements are duplicative of other reporting and information-
gathering projects already in existence.
    While these commenters have raised important issues, the Department 
does not believe that the Order is unnecessary or duplicative of 
existing processes. As an initial matter, the Department emphasizes 
that the purpose of the Order is to increase efficiency in contracting 
by encouraging compliance during contract performance, not to increase 
the use of suspension and debarment. The Order's new requirements and 
processes are designed to identify and help contractors address Labor 
Law violations and come into compliance before a contracting agency 
turns to the suspension-and-debarment process. The Order does not in 
any way alter the suspension-and-debarment process; however, the 
expectation is that its new requirements and processes will help 
contractors avoid the consequences of that process.
    The Department believes that focusing on the preaward process--in 
addition to a functional suspension-and-debarment regime--is efficient 
for the government as well as for those contractors that are given the 
opportunity to avoid suspension or debarment. Without effective 
preaward screening, the government faces the difficult decision about 
whether to expend resources on suspending or debarring a company that 
may in fact not be planning to subsequently bid on a government 
contract.\26\ And, as the chief construction inspector for the Los 
Angeles Bureau of Contract Administration has explained, front-end 
responsibility screening "is more effective and more beneficial to the 
public than a reactionary system. When you get a bad contractor on the 
back end, they've already done the damage, and then it's a costly 
process of kicking them out." \27\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \26\ See Yuri Weigel, "Is 'Protection' Always in the Best 
Interests of the Government?: An Argument to Narrow the Scope of 
Suspension and Debarment," 81 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 627, 660-61 (2013) 
(arguing that suspension and debarment are not always worth the 
administrative costs); HELP Committee Report, supra note 11 at 28-29 
(discussing the inefficacies of the suspension and debarment 
process).
    \27\ Sonn & Gebreselassie, supra note 16, at 476-77.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moreover, when one Federal agency suspends or debars a contractor, 
that action applies across the entire Federal Government. The 
collateral consequences--both for a debarred contractor and for other 
contracting agencies that may need the services of that contractor--can 
be severe.\28\ Thus, while the suspension-and-debarment process plays 
an important role in addressing significant concerns regarding an 
entity's responsibility and has a broad-reaching impact,\29\ the 
preaward framework employed by the Order is an equally important tool, 
one that allows responsibility concerns to be addressed on a 
procurement-by-procurement basis with attendant benefits to both the 
government and the contracting community.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \28\ See Robert Stumberg et al., "Turning a Blind Eye: 
Respecting Human Rights in Government Purchasing," Int'l Corp. 
Accountability Roundtable, 39-40 (2014) available at http://icar.ngo/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Procurement-Report-FINAL.pdf; 
see also John B. Warnock, "Principled or Practical Responsibility: 
Sixty Years of Discussion," 41 Pub. Cont. L.J. 881, 914 (2012) 
("Government-wide debarment is punitive debarment to the extent 
that it disregards agencies' individual requirements and abilities 
to mitigate procurement risks.").
    \29\ In some cases, denying access to Federal contracts may in 
fact "be the only realistic means of deterring contractors from 
[labor violations] based on a cold weighing of the costs and 
benefits of non-compliance." Janik Paving & Constr., Inc. v. Brock, 
828 F.2d 84, 91 (2d Cir. 1987) (holding that the Department had 
authority to debar a contractor over violations of the Contract Work 
Hours and Safety Standards Act).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Recognition of the benefits of early detection and prevention 
underlies the existing Federal procurement rules that require 
disclosure and consideration of various non-labor violations at the 
preaward stage. A bidder must disclose information such as tax 
delinquencies in excess of $3,500 and certain criminal convictions, 
indictments, civil judgments, and charges (for example, for 
violations of Federal or State antitrust statutes related to the 
submission of offers, commission of embezzlement, and making false 
statements); and a bidder with Federal contracts and grants 
totaling in excess of $10 million must additionally disclose 
information such as civil and administrative findings of fault and 
liability in connection with the award to or performance by the bidder 
of a Federal contract or grant.\30\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \30\ See FAR 52.209-5, 52.209-7.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    By mandating preaward consideration of Labor Law violations, the 
Order does no more than treat such violations the same as these other 
existing responsibility red flags. By doing so, the Order will 
facilitate timely communication, coordination, and cooperation among 
Government officials--including contracting officers, suspending and 
debarring officials, and others--regarding responses to Labor Law 
violations to the fullest extent appropriate to the matter and 
permissible by law. By working together in this way, Federal Government 
agencies can better protect the government's interests in efficient 
contract administration and high-quality contract performance.
    The Department also disagrees with the commenters that suggested 
the Order's disclosure requirements, specifically, are unnecessary and 
therefore unnecessarily burdensome. The Order's disclosure requirements 
are carefully tailored: It requires only a limited yes-or-no 
representation by all bidders and reserves the more detailed disclosure 
only for bidders for whom the contracting officer is making a 
responsibility determination--which most often is only the apparent 
awardee of the contract. The disclosure requirement is thus designed to 
request information from only those contractors for whom it is 
necessary in order for the contracting officer to assure that he or she 
is contracting with a responsible source, as required under existing 
law.
    While some commenters stated that this disclosure requirement was 
unnecessarily burdensome, others found the Order's disclosure 
requirement to be appropriate. The National Employment Law Project, for 
example, argued that the contractor is "best positioned to furnish 
complete and accurate records about its labor violation." The 
Department finds this argument to be persuasive. The Order requires 
disclosure of various categories of information that the Federal 
Government does not have in its possession, including information about 
State law violations, private litigation, and arbitration. Contractors 
are the best source of this information.
    In addition, the Order balances the disclosure requirement with a 
parallel instruction for the Department to review its own data 
collection requirements and processes, and to work with the Director of 
the Office of Management and Budget, the Administrator for the General 
Services Administration, and other agency heads to improve those 
processes and existing data collection systems, as necessary, to reduce 
the burden on contractors and increase the amount of information 
available to agencies. See Order, section 4(a)(iii). As noted in the 
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis that was part of the proposed 
FAR rule, this review and the related improvement to Federal databases 
has been initiated, and the Department is confident that it will 
ultimately be successful in further reducing the disclosure burden 
associated with the Order's disclosure requirements. See 80 FR 30562. 
Until that time, however, the system of disclosure created under the 
Order is the most efficient and least burdensome method of making 
information about labor violations available to contracting officers. 
See id.

D. Comments About the Legal Authority for the Order

    The Department received a number of comments challenging the legal 
authority upon which the Order and the proposals were issued. The 
commenters alleged that several provisions of the Proposed Guidance 
were contrary to Federal law and constitutional principles. The 
Department briefly summarizes those arguments and provides the 
following response:
1. The Procurement Act
    Several industry commenters questioned the President's use of the 
Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (the Procurement Act), 
40 U.S.C. 101 et seq., as the legal authority for the Order. They 
argued that the Order and the proposals do not have the nexus to 
"economy and efficiency" in government procurement that courts have 
required for Executive action taken under the Procurement Act. The 
commenters argued that, instead, the Order will lead to higher 
procurement costs and a more burdensome procurement system. Commenters 
also questioned whether there is a relationship at all between labor 
law violations and poor contract performance.
    After carefully reviewing these comments and the relevant case law, 
the Department disagrees with the commenters. The Order, the FAR rule, 
and this Guidance do not exceed the President's authority under the 
Procurement Act. The Procurement Act grants the President broad 
authority to prescribe policies and directives that the President 
considers necessary to carry out the statutory purposes of ensuring 
economical and efficient government procurement. The requisite nexus 
exists where the President's explanation for how an Executive order 
promotes efficiency and economy is reasonable and rational. As the 
Department discussed in the Proposed Guidance, the overall objective of 
the Order is to increase the government's ability to contract with 
companies that will comply with labor laws, thereby increasing the 
likelihood of timely, predictable, and satisfactory delivery of goods 
and services. The Department believes that agencies will benefit from 
additional information--through the new disclosure requirements--to 
better determine if a potential contractor is a responsible source.
    The Order and the FAR rule provide ample basis for concluding that 
the goals of economy and efficiency in procurement are served. The RIA 
cites various studies showing a correlation between labor law 
violations and poor quality construction, low performance ratings, 
wasteful practices, and other performance problems.\31\ And, by looking 
at contractors' recent violations of the law, Federal agencies can 
reasonably predict future behavior. As one academic study found, the 
existence of three or more prior violations of the law by a corporation 
is a "highly significant" predictor of subsequent illegal 
activity.\32\ The President's explanation for how the Order promotes 
economy and efficiency is reasonable and rational. The final FAR rule 
and Department Guidance are therefore appropriate under the Procurement 
Act.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \31\ The Department notes that both a correlation and a causal 
relationship exist between labor law violations and contract 
performance. In predicting and explaining unlawful corporate 
behavior, many academic researchers have emphasized the problem, 
above all, of "top management in tolerating, even shaping, a 
corporate culture that allows for deviance." William S. Laufer, 
"Corporate Liability, Risk Shifting, and the Paradox of 
Compliance," 52 Vand. L. Rev. 1343, 1410-11 (1999) (citing various 
studies). Thus, in many cases, labor law violations and other 
harmful practices (such as contract fraud)--both of which cause poor 
contract performance--may all be symptoms of the underlying 
management failures or malfeasance.
    \32\ Baucus & Near, supra note 25 at 27.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Separation of Powers
    Several commenters argued that the Order and the proposals impinge 
on separation-of-powers principles. These arguments were presented in 
two ways: (1) The Order is preempted by the Labor Laws, and (2) the 
Order improperly amends Federal laws by creating new categories of 
violations and imposing new penalties. Several commenters focused 
specifically on the NLRA, citing court decisions in Wis. Dep't. of 
Indus. v. Gould, Inc., 475 U.S. 282 (1986), and Chamber of Commerce v. 
Reich, 74 F.3d 1322 (D.C. Cir. 1996).\33\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \33\ Various commenters also made a separation-of-powers type of 
argument about the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and the Order's 
limits on certain pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses. The 
Department is not providing guidance regarding that section of the 
Order and therefore does not address the legal arguments about the 
FAA. The FAR Council addresses FAA-related legal arguments in the 
preamble to its final rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After careful review of the comments and the law, the Department 
concludes that the Order does not offend separation-of-powers 
principles. The Department disagrees with the commenters who suggested 
that traditional preemption principles apply to Federal Executive 
actions. Rather, the appropriate question is whether the Executive 
action under the Procurement Act conflicts with some more specific 
statute Congress has enacted. An Executive action may not prohibit 
activity that Congress has explicitly declared permissible, or vice 
versa. Here, however, the Order and proposals do neither.
    The Department also disagrees with the characterization of the 
Order as creating new categories of violations or a new penalty--the 
possibility of being found nonresponsible and denied government 
contract work. The Order does not materially alter the current 
procurement process. As discussed above in the background section, 
contracting officers already may consider Labor Law violations when 
assessing a contractor's responsibility. Other than requiring 
disclosure of Labor Law violations, the Order does no more regarding 
the responsibility determination process than provide additional 
assistance to contracting officers to assist them in carrying out their 
existing duties.
    The purpose of the existing FAR responsibility determination is to 
evaluate conduct that may be remediable or punishable under other 
statutes. Contractors are already required to report numerous types of 
conduct, including fraud, anti-competitive conduct, embezzlement, 
theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of records, 
making false statements, tax evasion, receiving stolen property, and 
tax delinquencies, that are unlawful and separately punishable under 
existing Federal and State laws. See FAR 52.209-5(a)(1)(i)(B)-(D). Such 
reporting and consideration does not create a new penalty under those 
statutes because the purpose of these FAR provisions is not to penalize 
a contractor, but rather to assure that the government contracts with 
responsible parties as it carries out its proprietary business. For the 
same reason, the Order's express consideration of the Labor Laws does 
not create new categories of violations or new penalties.
    Finally, the Department disagrees that this analysis applies 
differently to the NLRA than to the other Labor Laws covered under the 
Order. Courts have upheld various Executive orders absent a direct 
conflict with the NLRA's statutory provisions. The decisions in Gould 
and Reich relied upon by the commenters do not suggest otherwise. Those 
two decisions involved initiatives that directly targeted only NLRA-
covered violations. Moreover, the Gould decision did not involve a 
Federal Executive order, but rather a State law, and one that the Court 
found to have "the manifest purpose" of enforcing the requirements of 
the NLRA and which could not even "plausibly be defended as a 
legitimate response" to local procurement needs. 475 U.S. at 291. The 
Reich decision did involve an Executive order, but one which the court 
found to have the intent and effect of depriving contractors of the 
ability to hire permanent replacements during a strike--something that 
"promise[d] a direct conflict" with the NLRA. 74 F.3d at 1338. In 
both cases, the courts found that the provisions at issue were intended 
to affect the relationship between management and organized labor as 
opposed to seeking to advance a narrow proprietary interest with a 
close nexus to achieving economy and efficiency in Federal procurement. 
In contrast, here the Order endeavors only to treat the NLRA no 
differently than any of the other 13 covered Labor Laws. Thus, unlike 
in Gould and Reich, the inclusion of the NLRA in the Order here 
demonstrates the Order's intent to promote the government's proprietary 
interest in efficient contracting in an evenhanded manner.
3. Due Process
    Many industry commenters expressed concern that that the Order and 
the proposals do not provide contractors with constitutionally 
sufficient due process protections. For example, two employer 
representatives argued that the Order and the proposals could infringe 
upon protected liberty interests because an adverse responsibility 
determination could harm a prospective contractor's reputation. Others 
argued that a contractor's protected property interests may be 
infringed where postaward violations lead to an adverse action such as 
the non-renewal of an option, contract termination, or debarment.
    The Department agrees that the preaward responsibility 
determination, the exercise of postaward contract remedies, and the 
suspension-and-debarment process each require consideration of a 
contractor's right to due process. However, the Department emphasizes 
that neither the Order nor the Guidance diminish the existing 
procedural safeguards already afforded to prospective contractors 
during the preaward responsibility determination or to contractors 
after they have been awarded a contract. Moreover, the Order does not 
infringe upon liberty or property interests because contractors receive 
notice that the responsibility determination is being made and are 
offered a pre-decisional opportunity to be heard by submission of any 
relevant information--including mitigating circumstances related to any 
Labor Law violation that must be disclosed.\34\ Finally, nothing in the 
Order diminishes contractors' post-decisional opportunity to be heard 
through existing administrative processes and the Federal courts.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \34\ See FAR 22.2004-2(b)(1)(ii). Several commenters argued that 
the definition of administrative merits determination will be costly 
because it will force contractors to litigate a Labor Law violation 
in two separate fora--first, in front of the enforcement agency that 
has made the determination; and, second, by submitting mitigating 
circumstances to a contracting officer when submitting a bid. While 
mindful of the additional costs that this process may entail for 
some contractors, the Department submits that contractors' 
opportunity to provide relevant information (including mitigating 
circumstances) during the responsibility determination addresses the 
due process concerns raised by the employer associations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Various commenters also challenged the Proposed Guidance's 
definition of administrative merits determinations, claiming that 
requiring contractors to report nonfinal and appealable allegations 
denies them due process. Commenters asserted that a contractor may feel 
pressured to negotiate or sign a labor compliance agreement and forgo a 
challenge to a nonfinal administrative merits determination in order to 
receive a pending contract.
    The Department has carefully considered this argument, but does not 
believe that the specific requirement to disclose nonfinal administrative 
merits determinations violates contractors' rights to due process. 
Though the Order and FAR rule (and therefore the Guidance) place value 
on a contractor's effort to remediate violations through a settlement or 
labor compliance agreement, neither contains any requirement that a 
contractor must settle all open cases in order to be found responsible 
and receive a contract award--a fact that the Department has emphasized 
in the final Guidance. See Guidance, section III(B)(1)(a). Similarly, the 
final Guidance also emphasizes that a contractor may enter into a labor 
compliance agreement while at the same time continuing to contest an 
underlying Labor Law violation. See id. section III(C)(1). Because a 
contractor is not required to forgo the right to appeal any nonfinal 
Labor Law violation in order to secure a Federal contract, the 
requirement to disclose nonfinal violations clearly does not violate 
due process.
4. The Administrative Procedure Act
    Some commenters argued that the Guidance does not comply with the 
Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 553(b). They asserted that 
the Guidance is, in effect, a legislative rule that requires notice and 
comment. The Department has reviewed these comments and finds them to 
be without merit. The Guidance is not a legislative rule; it does not 
bind private parties or agency officials, and it does not meet the 
four-part test for a legislative rule that would require notice and 
comment. See Am. Mining Cong. v. Mine Safety & Health Admin., 995 F.2d 
1106, 1109 (D.C. Cir. 1993).
    First and foremost, the Order provides an independent and adequate 
basis for enforcement, apart from the Guidance. See Am. Mining, 995 
F.2d at 1112. The Order and the FAR Council rule provide disclosure and 
process requirements that bind private parties and agency officials. 
The Guidance only supplies additional clarity to these requirements 
through the Department's interpretation of certain terms of the Order 
and narrative description of the process. Second, the Department has 
not explicitly invoked its general legislative authority. See id. 
Rather, it has acted to create a guidance document at the explicit 
instruction of the Order itself. See Guidance, section I(B). Third, the 
Guidance does not effectively amend the Order or any regulations; 
rather, it is consistent with their requirements. An agency action 
"does not, in this inquiry, become an amendment merely because it 
supplies crisper and more detailed lines than the authority being 
interpreted." Am. Mining, 995 F.2d at 1112. Finally, the Guidance will 
not be published in the Code of Federal Regulations. See id.
    Moreover, even if the Guidance were considered to be a legislative 
rule, the Department met the APA's procedural requirements by 
publishing the Proposed Guidance in the Federal Register and soliciting 
and considering comments before issuing the final Guidance.
    In another set of comments directed at procedural aspects of the 
Guidance, a few employer groups raised concerns that the impact of the 
Guidance could not be properly assessed because the Department decided 
to identify only a small number of the State laws equivalent to the 14 
Federal laws listed in the Order and to leave the remaining State laws 
for a subsequent guidance document. One commenter also stated that the 
Proposed Guidance did not contain a sufficient justification for this 
two-step process, suggesting that the final Guidance cannot be upheld 
unless the Department provides appropriate reasons for delaying the 
identification of equivalent laws. The Department has reviewed these 
comments and finds that they are premature and without merit. The 
Department has identified in this Guidance that OSHA State Plans are 
equivalent State laws; but the Department has decided to delay the 
identification of additional equivalent State laws as part of the 
phase-in of the Order's requirements that will allow contractors and 
contracting agencies time to adjust to the new requirements. The 
comments also do not account for the fact that the additional guidance 
released in the future will also be submitted as a proposal with an 
opportunity for comment and accompanied by a proposed amendment to the 
FAR and a Regulatory Impact Analysis.
    Finally, one employer advocacy group commented that the Order 
directs the Department to issue guidance regarding only a single 
portion of the paycheck transparency provision, which is the 
identification of substantially similar State wage-statement laws. This 
commenter, Equal Employment Advisory Council (EEAC), requested 
clarification regarding what authority the Department has for issuing 
the "guidance, binding or not, on the additional provisions of the 
paycheck transparency provision." The commenter misunderstands the 
reason that the Department addressed all aspects of the paycheck-
transparency requirements in the Proposed Guidance. The Department 
intends the Guidance to be a stand-alone document that will be helpful 
to agency officials and contractors as they implement the requirements 
in the Order and the FAR rule. Accordingly, the Department has included 
in the final Guidance a description of the requirements of the Order 
and the FAR--regardless of whether the Order specifically required the 
Department to provide guidance on those specific provisions.

Section-by-Section Analysis

    In addition to submitting general comments, commenters also 
commented on specific elements of the Proposed Guidance. The Department 
appreciates the effort from these commenters to carefully review the 
Order and the Proposed Guidance. The Department now modifies the final 
Guidance in response to those comments in a number of areas. The 
comments, responses, and modifications are summarized below in a 
section-by-section analysis.

I. Purpose and Summary of the Order

    Section I of the Guidance is an introduction that explains the 
purpose of Executive Order 13673, briefly summarizes the legal 
authority for the Order and the existing FAR rules to which the Order 
applies, and recites a summary of the new requirements and processes 
contained in the Order. The subsection on legal authority specifically 
identifies the Procurement Act, 40 U.S.C. 101 et seq., as providing the 
statutory authority for the Order.
    The Department received a number of comments questioning whether 
the Order would achieve its stated purpose of increasing economy and 
efficiency in Federal procurement, and--as a related matter--whether 
the President was justified in issuing the Order under the Procurement 
Act. As discussed above, the Department disagrees with those commenters 
that have questioned the purpose of and authority for the Order. The 
Department therefore concludes that it is not necessary to amend this 
section in response to these comments. The Department does, however, 
amend section I of the final Guidance to include the discussion of the 
purpose of the Order previously included in another section of the 
Proposed Guidance, to conform the summary to changes made to the FAR 
rule, to add language reiterating that the Guidance is not a 
legislative rule, and to improve its clarity.

II. Preaward Disclosure Requirements (Formerly "Disclosure 
Requirements")

    During both the preaward and postaward periods, the Order requires 
contractors and subcontractors (collectively, "contractors") to disclose 
administrative merits determinations, civil judgments, and arbitral awards 
or decisions rendered for violations of the Labor Laws (collectively, 
"Labor Law decisions").\35\ Section II of the Guidance assists agencies in 
interpreting the preaward disclosure requirements in the Order and the 
FAR rule.\36\ Because the FAR rule governs the requirements discussed 
below, the Department has modified the Guidance to parallel changes 
made in the final FAR rule and has included additional descriptions of 
the rule's requirements to assist contractors and contracting agencies.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \35\ The Department has made several nonsubstantive changes to 
the Guidance in the disclosure section for clarity. The final 
Guidance now uses "contractors" to refer to both prime contractors 
and subcontractors; where relevant, however, the distinction between 
prime contractors and subcontractors is noted. In addition, the 
Guidance now refers to a contractor's requirement to provide 
information as "disclosure" instead of "reporting." This change 
is intended only for consistency with the language of the FAR rule.
    \36\ The Department has summarized the FAR's rules on postaward 
disclosures and assessment in section IV of the Guidance. The 
comments regarding the postaward process are discussed in a parallel 
section below.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

A. Covered Contracts (Formerly "Who Must Make Disclosures Under the 
Order")

    The first part of section II of the Guidance discusses the types of 
contracts covered by the Order and the scope of a contractor's 
requirement to disclose Laboe Law decisions. These types include 
contracts between Federal agencies and prime contractors that meet 
certain conditions (covered procurement contracts). And they include 
subcontracts that meet similar, but not identical, conditions (covered 
subcontracts). The Guidance uses the term "covered contract" to refer 
to both covered procurement contracts and covered subcontracts.
    The Department received several comments requesting that the 
definition of the various types of covered contracts be amended. One 
industry commenter, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), 
suggested that all commercial item contracts--and especially commercial 
item subcontracts--should be excluded from the Order's disclosure 
requirements. AIA noted that the Order does expressly exclude 
subcontracts for commercially available off-the-shelf items (COTS), and 
it asserted that there is no basis for distinguishing between contracts 
for COTS items and contracts for commercial items. It noted that there 
is a "major government initiative" to increase government acquisition 
of commercial items.
    The Department declines to amend the Guidance as suggested. The 
definition of covered contracts is within the jurisdiction of the FAR 
Council. As the FAR Council indicates in the preamble to its final 
rule, the plain language of the Order does not provide for a blanket 
exclusion of commercial item contracts, which are distinct from COTS 
contracts in the FAR. The Order expressly excludes contracts for COTS 
items from covered subcontracts, see Order, section 2(a)(iv), and does 
not specifically address commercial items. Had the Order intended to 
also exclude contracts for commercial items, it would have done so 
expressly. The Guidance thus adopts the proposed definitions of 
"covered procurement contracts," "covered subcontracts," and 
"covered contracts;" and the Department has added additional language 
to highlight the applicability of the Order to procurement contracts 
for both COTS and commercial items.
    The Department also received multiple comments about the definition 
of a "contractor" in this section. The Proposed Guidance explained 
that references to "contractors" include both individuals and 
entities and both offerors on and holders of contracts. Several 
employer organizations asked the Department to clarify whether this 
definition of "contractor" requires parties bidding on or holding 
covered contracts to disclose the violations of their parent 
corporations, subsidiaries, or affiliates. One commenter, the U.S. 
Chamber of Commerce, suggested that the Guidance the term contractor be 
limited to mean "the entity that legally executes a contract with the 
Government" and should not include "affiliated legal entities." 
Another commenter, the Society for Human Resource Management et al., 
recommended that disclosure be at the Commercial and Government Entity 
(CAGE) Code level because it would be less burdensome and because any 
alternative would not be reasonably related to the responsibility of 
the "specific entity that will perform the federal contract." Other 
industry commenters requested clarity on which entity is obligated to 
report the violations of affiliated entities after acquisitions, 
spinoffs, and mergers occur and any violations that occurred at 
facilities no longer in use.
    In contrast, union and worker-advocacy organizations suggested that 
the Guidance define "contractor" to expressly include a contractor's 
affiliates and/or recommended that the Guidance otherwise require 
contractors to report the Labor Law violations of their affiliates. 
Some recommended that the Guidance use the FAR definition of 
"affiliates" at FAR 2.101, which defines "affiliates" in the 
context of direct or indirect control of an entity or business.
    The Department declines to amend the definition of "contractor" 
in the final Guidance. The applicability of the Order's disclosure 
requirements to a contracting entity's corporate affiliates is within 
the jurisdiction of the FAR Council. As the FAR Council indicates in 
the preamble to its final rule, the scope of prime contractor and 
subcontractor representations and disclosures follows the general 
principles and practice of the FAR that are the same for other FAR 
provisions requiring representations and disclosures. The requirement 
to represent and disclose applies to the legal entity whose name and 
address is entered on the bid/offer and that will be legally 
responsible for performance of the contract. Consistent with current 
FAR practice, representations and disclosures do not apply to a parent 
corporation, subsidiary corporation, or other affiliates, unless a 
specific FAR provision (e.g., FAR 52.209-5) requires that additional 
information. The Department additionally notes that the Order's 
disclosure requirements do not amend the existing FAR provisions 
regarding the relationship between a contractor's affiliates and its 
responsibility. The FAR continues to require contracting officers to 
consider all relevant information when reviewing a contractor's 
responsibility--including the past performance and integrity of a 
contractor's affiliates when they affect the prospective contractor's 
responsibility. See FAR 9.104-3(c).
    The Department also received comments specifically directed at 
"covered subcontracts." In the final Guidance, the Department created 
a new section dedicated specifically to subcontractor responsibility. 
See Guidance, section V. The comments about subcontract coverage are 
addressed in a parallel section of the section-by-section analysis 
below.

B. Labor Law Decisions (Formerly "What Triggers the Disclosure 
Obligations")

    The second part of section II discusses the categories of Labor Law 
decisions that contractors must disclose. The Order requires 
contractors to disclose Labor Law decisions rendered against them 
within the preceding 3-year period for a violation of the Labor Laws. 
See Order, sections 2(a)(i), 2(a)(iv)(A). The Proposed Guidance 
interpreted the relevant 3-year period to be the 3-year period 
preceding the date of the offer, contract bid, or proposal. 80 FR 
30574, 30578. Labor Law decisions rendered during that 3-year period 
must be disclosed even if the underlying unlawful conduct occurred more 
than 3 years prior to the date of the report. See id. The Proposed Guidance 
further explained that contractors must disclose Labor Law decisions that 
were issued during the relevant 3-year period even if they were not performing 
or bidding on a covered contract at the time of the decision. Id. at 30578-79.
Timing of the Initial Representation Requirement
    The FAR Council proposed rule provided that, consistent with the 
Order, all "offerors" must initially represent at the time of their 
bids whether they have decisions that must be disclosed. See 80 FR 
30552. One industry commenter proposed that only the contractor 
selected for an award of the contract should have to make the initial 
representation required by the Order. The FAR rule reasonably creates a 
two-step process requiring an initial representation equivalent to 
"yes or no." See FAR 22.2004-1(a). And only contractors for whom a 
contracting officer will initiate a responsibility determination must 
make more detailed disclosures. Id. This staggered process provides an 
appropriate balance by requiring detailed disclosures only from 
offerors for whom the contracting officer is conducting a 
responsibility determination.
The 3-Year Disclosure Period
    Several commenters addressed the 3-year disclosure period. For 
example, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) argued that, at 
least with respect to administrative merits determinations, "only 
those determinations based on conduct that occurred or ceased within 
the prior three years" should be disclosed. However, the Order states 
that contractors must disclose violations "rendered against" the 
contractor within the 3-year disclosure period. Order, sections 
2(a)(i), 2(a)(iv)(A). This language clearly refers to the date of the 
Labor Law decision, as opposed to when the underlying conduct occurred. 
The final Guidance includes an additional example to illustrate this 
principle.
    The Council of Defense and Space Industry Associations (CODSIA) 
requested that the period of coverage for the disclosure requirements 
be reduced to 6 or 12 months. The plain language of the Order provides 
for a 3-year disclosure period, see Order, section 2(a)(i); thus it is 
not possible to permanently reduce the disclosure period. However, as 
described in section VIII of the Guidance and the corresponding section 
of the section-by-section analysis below, the final FAR rule phases in 
the disclosure period so that the full 3-year period will not be fully 
effective until October 25, 2018.
Proposal To Add Labor Laws
    Some commenters suggested requiring disclosures for violations of 
statutes other than the enumerated Labor Laws. For example, the United 
Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) proposed adding 
"the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality 
Act as amended by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which 
are codified at [8 U.S.C. 1324b]." Two labor union commenters urged 
the Department to require disclosure of safety-and-health violations 
under statutory authority separate from the OSH Act, such as the Atomic 
Energy Act, 42 U.S.C. 2282c.\37\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \37\ Although the Order does not require the disclosure of 
violations of other Federal occupational safety-and-health statutes, 
such violations may be otherwise considered during the contracting 
process. For example, a contractor may bid on a Department of Energy 
contract for which the work will be covered by the Atomic Energy Act 
rather than the OSH Act. Such a contractor, however, may be 
performing work, or has performed work, that is covered by the OSH 
Act for another government agency or in the private sector. It is 
clear from the plain terms of the Order that a contractor, when 
bidding on a contract, must disclose any violations of the OSH Act, 
even if the work for which the contractor is bidding will not be 
covered by the OSH Act.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department declines to adopt these proposals. The Order 
specifically identifies 14 Federal laws and Executive orders for which 
violations must be disclosed. Order, section 2(a)(i)(A)-(N). The 
Department cannot alter the list of laws covered by the Order.
Disclosure of Criminal Violations
    The Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) requested 
clarification as to whether the Order requires disclosure of criminal 
violations of the Labor Laws, as the FLSA, the Migrant and Seasonal 
Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA), and the OSH Act provide for 
criminal sanctions. CAPAF is concerned that, if not, there would be a 
"significant loophole."
    The Department declines to modify the final Guidance in response to 
this comment. The Order does not reference criminal violations of the 
Labor Laws. The Order requires disclosure only of a civil judgment, 
arbitral award or decision, or administrative merits determination, and 
a criminal conviction is not encompassed within those terms.\38\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \38\ While disclosure of criminal convictions is not required 
under the provisions of the Order, the Department notes that the FAR 
does require contractors to disclose criminal convictions in certain 
circumstances. See FAR 52.209-7.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

OSHA State Plans
    The Order directs the Department to define the State laws that are 
equivalent to the 14 identified Federal labor laws and Executive 
orders. Order, section 2(a)(i)(O). The Proposed Guidance stated that 
OSHA-approved State Plans are equivalent State laws for purposes of the 
Order's disclosure requirements because the OSH Act permits certain 
States to administer OSHA-approved State occupational safety-and-health 
plans in lieu of Federal enforcement of the OSH Act. See 80 FR 30574, 
30579.
    Several commenters addressed the inclusion of OSHA-approved State 
Plans as equivalent State laws. One labor organization commenter agreed 
that State Plans are equivalent to the OSH Act, as the State Plans 
function in lieu of the OSH Act in those States, and the National 
Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) called it 
"essential" to the Order's purpose that both the OSH Act and "its 
state law equivalents" be included.
    In contrast, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce argued that the State 
Plans are not equivalent State laws. The Chamber noted that while State 
Plans must be "at least as effective" as the Federal OSHA 
program,\39\ substantial differences nevertheless exist, because some 
State Plans "impose requirements... that are not required by, or 
differ from, federal law."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \39\ See Section 18(c) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 667 (c).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department declines to modify this aspect of the Proposed 
Guidance. As an initial matter, the Department interprets the Chamber's 
comment to suggest that a State law must be identical to be considered 
"equivalent" under the Order. The Department notes that other 
commenters emphasized that "equivalent" does not equate to 
"identical." The Department agrees with these commenters; requiring 
equivalent State laws to be identical would be underinclusive because 
State laws are rarely if ever identical to Federal laws.
    The Department finds State Plans to be equivalent to the OSH Act 
because they perform the same functions as OSHA--setting standards, 
conducting enforcement inspections, and issuing citations. OSHA has 
only limited enforcement authority in those twenty-two States with 
State Plans, so failing to include OSHA State Plans as equivalent State 
laws would lead to a gap in disclosure for safety-and-health violations 
in those States under the Order. Including the State Plans results
in a more level playing field than would excluding them. For these 
reasons, the Guidance adopts the inclusion of OSHA-approved State Plans 
as equivalent State laws. The Guidance now also includes additional 
resources about State Plans and a link to a list of OSHA-approved State 
Plans on the OSHA Web site.
Disclosure of All Relevant Violations
    Several industry commenters objected to disclosing Labor Law 
violations where the underlying conduct did not occur in the course of 
performance of a Federal contract. In contrast, several employee-
advocacy groups supported requiring contractors to disclose Labor Law 
violations regardless of whether the violation arose from the 
performance of a Federal contract.
    The Order's disclosure requirement does not distinguish between 
violations committed during performance of a Federal contract and those 
that are not. See Order, sections 2(a)(i), 2(a)(iv)(A). The Order aims 
to incorporate the full picture of a contractor's Labor Law compliance 
into the responsibility determination process. A contractor's past 
performance--whether in the course of performing a Federal contract or 
not--is an indicator of the contractor's future performance.\40\ It is 
also relevant to a determination of the contractor's integrity and 
business ethics. The existing responsibility determination process 
already requires contractors to disclose unlawful conduct that may not 
have occurred during work on government contracts. FAR 52.209-
5(a)(1)(i)(B)-(D). Thus, contractors must disclose any Labor Law 
decision issued for a violation of the Labor Laws, even if the 
violation was not committed in the performance of work on a Federal 
Government contract or subcontract. Because some commenters thought 
this was not clear in the Proposed Guidance, the Department modifies 
the Guidance for clarity.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \40\ This principle is the same one a contractor uses when 
conducting a review of prospective subcontractors. A contractor 
would consider any prior misconduct or performance problems by the 
subcontractor, regardless of where the problems occurred and for 
which contractor the subcontractor was working at the time they 
occurred.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Violations Related to Actions or Omissions of a Federal Agency
    Several industry commenters suggested that contractors should not 
be required to disclose Labor Law violations that result from actions 
or omissions of the contracting agency. For example, two such 
commenters cited a wage violation resulting from the failure of the 
contracting agency to include the applicable clause or wage 
determination in the contract. Furthermore, although one trade 
association commenter and one advocacy organization commenter 
acknowledged that the Proposed Guidance would allow contractors to 
present additional information and mitigating factors along with the 
disclosed violation, they expressed concern that the information will 
not be properly evaluated.
    The Department declines to adopt the proposed changes to the 
Guidance. It recognizes that some Labor Law violations may result where 
a Federal contract did not include a required clause or wage 
determination. Whatever the reason for the failure to include the 
required clause or wage determination, a violation still occurred. See, 
e.g., 41 CFR 60-1.4(e) (stating that the Executive Order 11246 equal 
opportunity clause "shall be considered to be a part of every 
[covered] contract... whether or not it is physically incorporated 
in such contracts"). Thus, the Department believes the better approach 
is to take this information into account as a mitigating factor, rather 
than to make exceptions to the disclosure requirements.
    The Proposed Guidance was clear that contractors are encouraged to 
submit any additional information they believe may be helpful in 
assessing the violations at issue--particularly mitigating information. 
The Proposed Guidance stated that mitigating factors can include 
situations where the findings of the enforcement agency, court, 
arbitrator, or arbitral panel support a conclusion that the contractor 
acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds for believing that it 
was not violating the law. 80 FR 30574, 30591. As discussed below, the 
Guidance lists "good faith and reasonable grounds" as a mitigating 
factor that weighs in favor of a recommendation that a contractor has a 
satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance. That discussion 
specifically provides the example of a situation where a violation is 
caused by the failure of a contracting agency to include a required 
clause in the contract.
Disclosure of "Relatively Minor" Violations
    The Association of General Contractors (AGC) suggested that it is 
"burdensome and unfair" to require the disclosure of "relatively 
minor violations" that are not serious, repeated, willful, or 
pervasive as defined by the Department. Because only violations deemed 
serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive bear on the assessment of the 
contractor's integrity and business ethics, AGC recommended that only 
those violations should be disclosed.
    The Department declines to adopt AGC's proposal. The Order plainly 
requires contractors to disclose all violations of the Labor Laws that 
result in Labor Law decisions. The disclosed violations are then 
classified as serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive--or not. See 
Order, sections 2(a)(i), 2(a)(iv)(A), 4(a)-(b). Only those violations 
classified as serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive will be 
considered as part of the weighing step and will factor into the ALCA's 
written analysis and advice. Violations determined by the ALCA to not 
be serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive will be annotated as such 
in the analysis that the ALCA provides to the contracting officer.
Disclosure of Violations That Are Subsequently Settled
    Jenner & Block LLP commented that it was unfair to require 
disclosure of violations that have been settled, thus rendering them 
"potentially sanctionable[ ] event[s]." According to the comment, 
doing so would cause "the Federal government to violate its own 
contractual obligations" when there is a non-admission provision in 
the settlement agreement.
    The Department declines to amend the Guidance's treatment of 
settled violations. The Order requires the disclosure of violations, 
and the fact that a violation was subsequently settled does not negate 
the fact that the enforcement agency, after a thorough investigation, 
found a violation to have occurred.
    In some settlements, the enforcement agency may agree as part of 
the settlement to vacate a prior administrative merits determination. 
In such a case, the settlement would have the same effect as a court 
decision reversing or vacating the original violation. As the Guidance 
notes, in such a circumstance, the contractor does not need to disclose 
the original Labor Law decision. See Guidance, section II(B)(4).
    Unless an enforcement agency has agreed to vacate or rescind the 
underlying violation entirely, however, the contractor must still 
disclose the related Labor Law decisions when required by the Order, 
notwithstanding any settlement agreement. A non-admission provision, 
for example, does not generally involve an enforcement agency's 
agreement to withdraw any finding of a violation. Thus, a non-admission 
provision does not affect the existence of any prior Labor Law decision, 
and therefore does not change the Order's requirement that a contractor 
must disclose any Labor Law decision that preceded the settlement. Similarly, 
an enforcement agency will not include, and an ALCA will not consider, 
language in a settlement agreement purporting to determine or affect 
whether a violation or related Labor Law decision must be disclosed 
under the Order.\41\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \41\ Nor will an enforcement agency include, or an ALCA 
consider, language in a settlement agreement purporting to determine 
how a violation will be classified under the Order (e.g., language 
stating that, for the purposes of the Order, the violation was not 
serious, willful, repeated, or pervasive).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Although settlement agreements will not affect a contractor's 
disclosure requirements under the Order, a settlement agreement may be 
an important factor in the ALCA's overall assessment of the 
contractor's compliance record. The Order requires ALCAs to consider 
steps taken to correct the violation or improve compliance, and the 
Guidance accordingly provides that the remediation of a Labor Law 
violation through a settlement agreement is an important mitigating 
factor that can weigh in favor of a satisfactory record of Labor Law 
compliance. See Guidance, section III(B)(1).
Comments About Specific Subsections
    The Order instructs the Department to define the three categories 
of Labor Law decisions that must be disclosed: "administrative merits 
determination," "civil judgment," and "arbitral award or 
decision." Order, section 2(a)(i).
1. Defining "Administrative Merits Determination"
    In the Proposed Guidance, the Department described an 
administrative merits determination as including

notices or findings--whether final or subject to appeal or further 
review--issued by an enforcement agency following an investigation 
that indicates that the contractor or subcontractor violated any 
provision of the Labor Laws.

80 FR 30574, 30579-80.
    The Department defined "enforcement agency" as including the 
Department and its agencies--OSHA, WHD, and the Office of Federal 
Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Enforcement agencies also include 
the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC); the Equal 
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); the National Labor Relations 
Board (NLRB); and certain State agencies.
    The Department identified the specific notices and findings issued 
by these agencies that are administrative merits determinations. The 
Department provided that administrative merits determinations also 
include "a complaint filed by or on behalf of an enforcement agency 
with a Federal or State court, an administrative judge, or an 
administrative law judge alleging that the contractor or subcontractor 
violated any provision of the Labor Laws," and "any order or finding 
from any administrative judge, administrative law judge, the 
Department's Administrative Review Board [(ARB)], the [OSHRC] or State 
equivalent, or the [NLRB] that the contractor or subcontractor violated 
any provision of the Labor Laws." 80 FR 30574, 30579-80. This list of 
notices, findings, and documents was an exhaustive one.
a. Inclusion of Nonfinal and Appealable Decisions
    A number of industry commenters objected on due process and related 
grounds to the inclusion of nonfinal and appealable decisions in the 
definition of "administrative merits determination." These commenters 
characterized such determinations as "allegations." One form comment 
submitted by various employers and employer groups asserted that 
requiring disclosure of nonfinal agency actions could cause contractors 
to lose a contract because of cases that are not yet fully adjudicated. 
The form comment stated that this would infringe upon Federal 
contractors' due process rights.
    These commenters also argued that the notices, findings, and 
documents identified as administrative merits determinations in the 
Proposed Guidance often reflect mistakes by the enforcement agencies 
and/or are often reversed or settled, and that requiring disclosure of 
nonfinal and appealable determinations assumes that contractors are 
guilty until proven innocent. One form comment asserted that a number 
of the proposed administrative merits determinations are "routinely 
overturned once the initial determination is challenged." A few of 
these commenters asserted that the disclosure of "nonfinal 
allegations" may cause economic and reputational harms to contractors, 
particularly if the reported violation is later reversed.
    For these commenters, administrative merits determination should 
include only final and adjudicated agency decisions. Jenner & Block, in 
a representative comment, suggested that only "final decision[s] of 
administrative bodies with quasi-judicial authority" should be 
administrative merits determinations. These commenters suggested that 
such a limit might include only decisions of administrative bodies such 
as OSHRC or the ARB, and those decisions of individual administrative 
law judges that are not appealed and therefore become final agency 
actions.
    Several commenters, including the Society for Human Resource 
Management, the Council for Global Immigration, and the College and 
University Professional Association for Human Resources, also noted 
that the FAR Council's "Contractor Responsibility" rulemaking in 2000 
,\42\ which was later rescinded, would have required the reporting of 
"adverse decisions by federal administrative law judges, boards or 
commissions" but not "preliminary agency assessments." One industry 
commenter asserted that the FAR Council previously rejected the notion 
that nonfinal allegations should influence the procurement process.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \42\ Federal Acquisition Regulation; Contractor Responsibility, 
Labor Relations Costs, and Costs Relating to Legal and Other 
Proceedings, 65 FR 80256 (Dec. 20, 2000).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In contrast, union and worker-advocacy commenters supported the 
scope of agency determinations included in the proposed definition of 
administrative merits determination. For example, Change to Win (CTW) 
emphasized its strong support for including initial agency findings in 
the responsibility inquiry because, otherwise, violations would go 
undisclosed while "awaiting the outcome of potentially and often 
frivolous employer challenges to such findings and orders." Another 
commenter, North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU), explained 
that:

[t]he fact that a government enforcement agency has decided, after 
conducting an investigation, to pursue a citation, complaint or 
other action against a contractor is a signal of potential serious 
problems that could go unreported if the contractor were permitted 
to wait until the case is completely adjudicated--a process that can 
take years[.]

    The Department believes that the due process and related critiques 
of the proposed definition of administrative merits determination are 
unwarranted. The Order delegates to the Department the authority to 
define the term. See Order, section 2(a)(i). The proposed definition is 
consistent with the Order and the authority delegated. The Department 
limited the definition to a finite number of findings, notices, and 
documents--and only those issued "following an investigation by the
relevant enforcement agency." 80 FR 30574, 30579.
    If the Department limited its definition of administrative merits 
determination solely to findings of an ALJ, board, or commission, then 
thousands of uncontested enforcement agency determinations that Labor 
Laws have been violated would go undisclosed. For example, most WHD 
determinations that the FLSA's minimum wage and/or overtime provisions 
have been violated are never contested before an adjudicative body; 
rather, they are resolved prior to any litigation by the employer 
agreeing to pay the back wages reflected in a WH-56 form. Likewise, 
89.1 percent of citations issued by OSHA between October 1, 2012 and 
September 30, 2015 were not contested or were settled using OSHA's 
informal settlement agreements or expedited informal settlement 
agreements.\43\ And, at the NLRB, the settlement rate for meritorious 
unlawful labor practices cases was 92.4 percent in fiscal year 
2015.\44\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \43\ This information and additional information below regarding 
OSHA citations were compiled from citations issued by Federal OSHA 
offices (as opposed to by State agencies under OSHA-approved State 
Plans) and recorded in OSHA's Information System.
    \44\ NLRB, "NLRB FY 2015 Performance and Accountability 
Report" 36, https://www.nlrb.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/basic-page/node-1674/14445%20NLRB%20PAR%202015%20v2_508.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moreover, a narrower definition of administrative merits 
determination would also exclude all those initial agency 
determinations that a contractor is actively contesting. Excluding 
these determinations would in many cases result in a particularly long 
delay between the prohibited conduct and the obligation to disclose. 
For example, contested OSHA citations frequently take years to become 
final. In the interim, a contractor with many OSHA citations could 
secure Federal contracts without any consideration of those citations. 
In addition, the assertion by some commenters that administrative 
merits determinations are routinely overturned is not the case. For 
example, in fiscal year 2015 the NLRB's litigation success rate before 
ALJs and the Board was 88 percent, and 80 percent of Board decisions 
were enforced in whole or in part by courts of appeals.\45\ An even 
smaller percentage of all OSHA citations--less than 2 percent--are 
later vacated.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \45\ Id. at 36, 58.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The definition of administrative merits determination simply 
delineates the scope of contractors' disclosure obligations--the first 
stage in the Order's process. Not all disclosed Labor Law decisions are 
relevant to a recommendation regarding a contractor's integrity and 
business ethics. Only those that involve violations classified as 
serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive will be considered as part 
of the weighing step and will factor into the ALCA's written analysis 
and advice.\46\ Moreover, when disclosing Labor Law decisions, a 
contractor has the opportunity to submit all relevant information it 
deems necessary to demonstrate responsibility, including mitigating 
circumstances and steps taken to achieve compliance with Labor Laws. 
See FAR 22.2004-2(b)(1)(ii). As the Guidance provides, the information 
that the contractor is challenging or appealing an adverse 
administrative merits determination will be carefully considered. The 
Guidance also states that Labor Law violations that have not resulted 
in final determinations, judgments, awards, or decisions should be 
given lesser weight. The Department believes that contractors' 
opportunity to provide all relevant information--including mitigating 
circumstances--and the Guidance's explicit recognition that nonfinal 
administrative merits determinations should be given lesser weight 
resolve any due process concerns raised by the commenters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \46\ In addition, contractors are encouraged to disclose the 
subsequent reversal or modification of Labor Law decisions, which 
will reduce the potential impact of any erroneous administrative 
merits determination.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

b. Specific Categories of Administrative Merits Determinations
    In the Proposed Guidance, the Department enumerated an agency-by-
agency list of notices, findings, and documents that will be considered 
to be administrative merits determinations. A number of commenters 
commented about these agency-specific lists.
WH-56 Summary of Unpaid Wages Form
    The Proposed Guidance identified several types of documents issued 
by WHD, including a WH-56 "Summary of Unpaid Wages" form (WH-56 
form), as administrative merits determinations. See 80 FR 30574, 30579. 
Several industry commenters objected to the inclusion of the WH-56 form 
as an administrative merits determination. For example, one commenter, 
SAIC, stated that a WH-56 form is "not an admission of liability" but 
"a mechanism of settlement to resolve conflicts arising out of the 
investigation, and has been used as a practical and effective means of 
resolving complaints short of the litigation process." Another 
commenter, Jenner & Block, argued that a WH-56 form is "not a 'merits 
determination' at all," "includes solely a list of names, dates, and 
dollars owed," and "contains no description of the purported 
violation, and no findings regarding any investigation that may have 
preceded its issuance." And another commenter, Jackson Lewis LLC, 
asserted that WH-56 forms are regularly issued "before the employer 
has been provided a full opportunity to refute the basis of alleged 
violations and/or back pay calculated by the DOL in connection with the 
alleged violation," and are issued in a "speculative and 
inconsistent" manner.\47\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \47\ One commenter, Littler's Workplace Policy Institute, stated 
that the Department "would require a contractor to report as an 
'administrative merits determination' a FLSA letter determination 
from the Wage and Hour Division, yet the agency has vigorously 
argued that such letters do not constitute final agency action that 
a company can challenge." However, the Order does not indicate that 
the required disclosures be defined by reference to the 
Administrative Procedure Act. Rather, the Order requires the 
disclosure of "administrative merits determinations" and 
authorizes the Department to define that term.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department retains the WH-56 form as an administrative merits 
determination in the Guidance. WH-56 forms reflect WHD's determination 
that an employer violated one or more wage-and-hour laws and owes back 
wages. The WH-56 forms contain the specific amount of back wages due to 
each employee, the statute(s) violated, and the date(s) of the 
violation(s). WHD issues WH-56 forms only after an investigation--
during which employers are given the opportunity to provide relevant 
information and articulate their legal position. Moreover, WHD's policy 
is to issue a WH-56 form only after the employer has been informed of 
the investigation findings, has been provided an opportunity to explain 
the reasons for the violation(s), has been advised of how to comply 
with the law(s) at issue, and, most importantly, has agreed to fully 
comply with the law(s) going forward. In almost every case when WHD 
issues a WH-56 form, there is no further violation determination by 
WHD, a court, or an ALJ; the WH-56 is almost always the final 
assessment of an employer's back wage liability. In 88.2 percent of 
cases concluded in fiscal years 2013 through 2015 in which WHD issued a 
WH-56 form after determining that a Labor Law was violated, the 
employer paid all or some (usually all) of the back wages due on the 
form.\48\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \48\ This information was compiled from data recorded in the 
Wage and Hour Investigative Support and Reporting Database 
maintained by WHD. When the employer does not pay back wages due, it 
may be because it is unable to pay or refuses to pay, or for some 
other reason. When the employer does not pay, the Department may 
pursue further action, including litigation.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

OSHA Citations
    The Proposed Guidance identified several types of documents issued 
by OSHA, including citations, as administrative merits determinations. 
See 80 FR 30574, 30579. Some industry commenters opposed the use of 
OSHA citations as administrative merits determinations. For example, 
Jenner & Block, citing OSHA's regulations at 29 CFR 1903.14(a)-(b) and 
1903.15(a), argued that "an OSHA citation is merely an 'alleged 
violation,' not a merits determination," and "is issued merely if an 
OSHA Area Director 'believes' that an employer has violated an OSHA law 
or regulation, not after a 'determination' has been made" (emphasis in 
original). This comment emphasized that "when a contractor receives a 
citation, the employer has received very limited information about the 
enforcement agency's facts and legal position regarding the alleged 
violation... a citation is merely an allegation of violation of 
specified or general duty OSHA standards." Associated Builders and 
Contractors asserted that "most OSHA citations are routinely changed 
after investigation and negotiation between the employer and the 
investigating agency, resulting in a lesser fine or type of citation."
    The Department retains the OSHA citation as an administrative 
merits determination in the Guidance. OSHA issues citations only after 
conducting inspections during which OSHA affords employers the 
opportunity to put forth their position. The OSHA regulations cited 
above simply recognize that, under the applicable administrative 
scheme, citations are not "final," may be contested, and are 
"alleged" until they are made final--either by OSHRC adjudication or 
because they were not contested. See 29 U.S.C. 659(a), (c). That does 
not mean that citations are not reasoned agency determinations that an 
OSH Act violation has occurred. Moreover, as the Supreme Court has 
recognized, OSHA citations can be entitled to deference:

    The Secretary's interpretation of OSH Act regulations in an 
administrative adjudication, however, is agency action, not a post 
hoc rationalization of it. Moreover, when embodied in a citation, 
the Secretary's interpretation assumes a form expressly provided for 
by Congress.

Martin v. OSHRC, 499 U.S. 144, 157 (1991) (citing 29 U.S.C. 658) 
(emphasis in original).
    Furthermore, contrary to some commenters' claims, OSHA citations 
are rarely overturned. Of citations issued between October 1, 2012 and 
September 30, 2015, 89.1 percent were not formally contested and either 
became final under 29 U.S.C. 659(a) or were settled using OSHA's 
informal settlement agreements or expedited informal settlement 
agreements. Of those that were contested, over one-half (58.7 percent) 
have settled, and the vast majority (82 percent) of those settlements 
upheld at least part of the citation. Of those that did not settle, the 
citation was upheld in the vast majority (81.6 percent) of contested 
cases that have been resolved by an ALJ, OSHRC, or a court as of April 
2016 (some contested cases from the time period are ongoing), more 
often than not without any reduction in penalty. Less than 2 percent of 
all of the citations issued during the time period have been vacated.
OFCCP Show Cause Notices
    The Proposed Guidance identified "a show cause notice for failure 
to comply" issued by OFCCP as an administrative merits determination. 
See 80 FR 30,574, 30,579. OFCCP uses such notices to enforce the 
affirmative action and nondiscrimination rules in Executive Order 11246 
and other laws.
    Some industry commenters argued that OFCCP show cause notices 
should not be considered administrative merits determinations. For 
example, one commenter, Roffman Horvitz, objected to the inclusion of 
show cause notices because they are not "final agency determinations 
reviewable in the Federal courts under the Administrative Procedures 
Act." According to this comment, OFCCP issues show cause notices to 
contractors at the outset of audits if the contractor does not provide 
the requested information within an initial 30-day period. The 
commenter alleged that OFCCP "has become extremely reluctant to grant 
extensions of time" of that period and "approaches conciliation with 
a take-it-or-leave-it attitude."
    Another commenter, DirectEmployers Association, stated that a show 
cause notice generally contains "alleged violations related to highly 
technical Affirmative Action Program drafting and recordkeeping issues, 
or a failure to engage in adequate outreach and recruitment of women 
and/or minorities." This commenter asserted that a "very small 
minority of the [show cause notices] that OFCCP issues may also contain 
allegations of unlawful discrimination (typically fewer than in 2 
percent of all OFCCP audits)."
    The same commenter also stated that "routine" show cause notices 
are issued "prior to... completion of the investigatory phase of 
the audit" and "prior to considering the contractor's response to the 
agency's preliminary investigative conclusions" (emphasis in 
original). According to this commenter, "oftentimes the alleged 
violations raised in [a show cause notice] are voluntarily withdrawn by 
OFCCP," "are resolved through conciliation, or are later dismissed by 
an administrative court."
    The Department retains the OFCCP show cause notice as an 
administrative merits determination. OFCCP issues a show cause notice 
when it determines that a contractor has violated one or more of the 
laws under OFCCP's jurisdiction. See Federal Contract Compliance 
Manual, ch. 8D01 (Oct. 2014). OFCCP issues fewer than 200 show cause 
notices per year, and issues them after a substantial process. OFCCP 
typically issues show cause notices after it has investigated, made 
findings, issued a notice of violation,\49\ given the contractor an 
opportunity to respond, considered any response from the contractor, 
and attempted to resolve the issue through conciliation. OFCCP may 
issue a show cause notice if a contractor fails, after being requested 
by OFCCP, to submit the affirmative action plans or other information 
that it is required by law to maintain. Contrary to the commenter's 
assertion, OFCCP gives a contractor multiple chances, including 
extensions of time, to provide the requested information; and it gives 
a contractor the opportunity to explain its position before issuing a 
show cause notice. OFCCP must, if other efforts are unsuccessful, issue 
show cause notices in those few circumstances when contractors refuse 
to comply with their legal obligations to provide information. These 
obligations are crucial to OFCCP's ability to enforce its laws and 
investigate potential violations. Indeed, OFCCP cannot determine 
whether there was in fact unlawful discrimination until it receives the 
plans or other information that the contractor is required by law to 
maintain and provide.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \49\ Notices of violations are not administrative merits 
determinations under the Order.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

EEOC Letters and Actions
    The Proposed Guidance identified "a letter of determination that 
reasonable cause exists to believe that an unlawful employment practice 
has occurred or is occurring" issued by the EEOC and "a civil action 
filed on behalf of the EEOC" as administrative merits determinations. 
See 80 FR 30574, 30579.
    Several industry commenters objected. Some argued that reasonable 
cause letters are a preliminary action and are not based on sound proof 
that a violation actually occurred. Some asserted that few reasonable cause 
findings result in a court complaint or an eventual judgment. Others noted 
that reasonable cause findings are often excluded as evidence in subsequent 
litigation because their prejudicial value outweighs their probative value.
    The Department retains reasonable cause letters as a type of 
administrative merits determination. An EEOC reasonable cause 
determination reflects an assessment of a charge's merits: "that there 
is reasonable cause to believe that the charge is true," 42 U.S.C. 
2000e-5(b), based on information obtained in the investigation, 
including that provided by the employer, see EEOC, "What You Can 
Expect After a Charge is Filed," http://www.eeoc.gov/employers/process.cfm. In fiscal year 2015, about 3.5 percent of charges filed 
with the EEOC resulted in reasonable cause determinations.\50\ After 
making a reasonable cause determination, the agency transitions from 
its investigatory, fact-finding role to its role as a conciliator and, 
if conciliation efforts fail, the agency becomes a potential litigant 
with authority to file a lawsuit to protect the public interest, 
including to obtain relief for individuals harmed by the discriminatory 
practices on which reasonable cause was found. The agency does not 
revisit the reasonable cause determination in conciliation. Rather, the 
EEOC must try to "eliminate" the "alleged unlawful employment 
practice" through conciliation before it can sue. 42 U.S.C. 2000e-
5(b).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \50\ The EEOC data in this paragraph and the following paragraph 
are available on the EEOC's Web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/all.cfm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That the EEOC decides to sue in a relatively small percentage of 
cases in which it has found reasonable cause has little to no bearing 
on the determinations' merits. A large portion of reasonable cause 
determinations are conciliated. See 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(b) (describing 
the conciliation process). For example, in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 
combined, the EEOC successfully conciliated 41 percent of its 
reasonable cause determinations. Because of limited resources, EEOC can 
file lawsuits in only a small proportion of cases where it finds 
reasonable cause. Rather, the EEOC decides which cases to litigate 
based on a range of factors, including "the wider impact the lawsuit 
could have on EEOC efforts to combat workplace discrimination." EEOC, 
"Litigation Procedures," http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/litigation/procedures.cfm. Thus, the Department concludes that it is appropriate 
to include EEOC reasonable cause letters as administrative merits 
determinations.
    As mentioned above, the Proposed Guidance also included as an EEOC 
administrative merits determination "a civil action filed on behalf of 
the EEOC." 80 FR 30574, 30579. This was unnecessary because the 
Proposed Guidance generally identified complaints filed by or on behalf 
of enforcement agencies with courts as administrative merits 
determinations. The Department eliminates this redundancy in the final 
Guidance.
NLRB Complaints
    The Proposed Guidance identified "a complaint issued by any 
Regional Director" of the NLRB as an administrative merits 
determination. 80 FR 30574, 30579. Several industry commenters opposed 
this proposal, arguing that such complaints are only allegations. For 
example, one such commenter, the Littler Workplace Policy Institute, 
characterized such complaints as being based on "investigatory 
findings without judicial or quasi-judicial safeguards." This 
commenter further argued that "[e]ven the [NLRB]'s own determinations 
are not self-enforcing, as section 10 of the NLRA makes clear, because 
only a court of appeals can enforce orders of the Board."
    Industry commenters also asserted that a relatively low percentage 
of complaints issued by NLRB Regional Directors result in NLRB 
determinations, and that even fully litigated NLRB decisions are often 
overturned by courts of appeals. And commenters stated that the NLRB 
sometimes pursues legal theories that have been rejected by some U.S. 
Courts of Appeals, meaning a contractor could be forced to disclose a 
decision involving conduct that some courts have ruled does not amount 
to a violation. Others argued that they must purposefully violate the 
NLRA in certain circumstances in order to test the validity of the 
NLRB's certification of a representation election in Federal court.
    The Department retains the definition of administrative merits 
determinations for NLRA violations as proposed. The Department 
disagrees with the premise of the industry commenters' comments. As 
discussed above, the fiscal year 2015 NLRB settlement rate was 92.4 
percent, the litigation success rate of General Counsel complaints 
before ALJs and the Board was 88 percent, and 80 percent of Board 
decisions were enforced in whole or in part by Courts of Appeals. The 
Department also disagrees that NLRB complaints should not be disclosed 
because some employers may purposefully violate the NLRA to "test" 
the validity of an election. Disclosure is only the first step in the 
Order's process; when disclosing Labor Law decisions, contractors are 
encouraged to submit all relevant information, including mitigating 
factors.
    Some labor organizations suggested that the definition of 
"administrative merits determination" should be expanded. These 
commenters advocated including as administrative merits determinations 
those NLRB General Counsel findings in which the General Counsel 
notifies employers that it will issue a complaint absent settlement. 
The Department considers this addition to be unwarranted. If the 
General Counsel does issue a complaint, the complaint itself will be an 
administrative merits determination that must be disclosed. 
Accordingly, the Department maintains the definition as proposed.
Complaints Filed With Courts or Administrative Agencies
    The list of administrative merits determinations in the Proposed 
Guidance included "a complaint filed by or on behalf of an enforcement 
agency with a Federal or State court, an administrative judge, or an 
administrative law judge alleging that the contractor or subcontractor 
violated any provision of the Labor Laws." 80 FR 30574, 30579.
    Several industry commenters criticized this category. One 
commenter, Jenner & Block, stated that a civil action "can only 
represent a set of allegations and can never be viewed as a 
determination on the merits" (emphasis added). Another commenter 
questioned whether the Department was justified in distinguishing 
between a government agency's complaint and a private litigant's 
complaint--as the latter was not included as an administrative merits 
determination.
    The Department retains the Guidance as proposed. The distinction 
between complaints filed by an enforcement agency and complaints filed 
by private parties to initiate lawsuits is valid. Agencies pursue 
litigation only after fully investigating the case, soliciting the 
adverse party's position, and making efforts to resolve the matter. 
Thus, the filing of a complaint by an enforcement agency in court or 
before an administrative agency is an agency determination that the 
relevant law has been violated.\51\ Moreover, the inclusion of court 
complaints filed by or on behalf of enforcement agencies is necessary 
because some of the most egregious violations of the Labor Laws found 
by agencies may be enforced only through court actions depending on 
the particular Labor Law's enforcement scheme.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \51\ Jenner & Block asserted that including "civil actions as 
reportable events directly conflicts with the terms of the Order, 
which requires only 'civil judgments' to be reported." (emphasis 
added). However, the Order separately requires "administrative 
merits determinations" to be disclosed, and for the reasons 
explained above, a complaint filed by an enforcement agency in court 
or before and administrative agency is an administrative merits 
determination even though it is not a civil judgment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Finally, while it is true that not every complaint filed by an 
enforcement agency succeeds, the Department reiterates that the 
definition of administrative merits determination is relevant only to 
the initial disclosure requirement. The definition simply determines 
the scope of contractors' disclosure obligations--the first step in the 
Order's process. Not all disclosed violations are relevant to 
contractors' integrity and business ethics; only those that are 
serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive will be considered as part 
of the weighing step and will factor into the ALCA's written analysis 
and advice.
Retaliation Violations
    Several commenters representing labor and worker advocacy 
organizations advocated that the definition of "administrative merit 
determinations" include notices or findings of violations of the anti-
retaliation provisions of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 660(c) ("Section 
11(c)"), and the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. 215(a)(3) ("Section 15(a)(3)"). 
These anti-retaliation provisions are vital components to the 
enforcement of the OSH Act and the FLSA, and the Department did not 
intend to exclude them. The relevant administrative merits 
determination for these anti-retaliation violations is a complaint 
filed on behalf of the agency in court. As discussed above, such 
complaints are included in the Guidance's definition of 
"administrative merits determination." \52\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \52\ This would also cover the OSHA-approved State Plans that 
enforce their equivalents to section 11(c) through State courts. To 
the extent some State Plans enforce their anti-retaliation 
provisions through administrative processes, the relevant 
administrative merits determinations will be identified in the 
second guidance to be issued by the Department identifying the State 
laws that are equivalent to the Federal Labor Laws.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition to such court actions, WHD also may issue determination 
letters finding retaliation in violation of FLSA section 15(a)(3). The 
Proposed Guidance incorrectly limited the residual category of 
administrative merits determinations to "a letter indicating that an 
investigation disclosed a violation of sections six or seven of the 
FLSA..." \53\ To assure that WHD letters finding a retaliation 
violation will be disclosed, the Department has revised the Guidance to 
remove the phrase "of sections six or seven." Thus, a WHD 
determination letter finding any FLSA violation--not just minimum wage 
and overtime violations--is an administrative merits determination.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \53\ Sections six and seven refer to the FLSA's minimum wage and 
overtime provisions, 29 U.S.C. 206, 207.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    One commenter expressed concern that violations of the anti-
retaliation provisions of the statutes enforced by the EEOC may not 
meet the definition of administrative merits determinations because it 
is possible that retaliation is not an "unlawful employment 
practice." The Department and the EEOC consider the phrase "unlawful 
employment practice" to include unlawful retaliation.
False Statement Violations Under the OSH Act
    One commenter requested that the Guidance include violations of 
section 17(g) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 666(g), which prohibits 
knowingly making false statements in reports or other documents 
required to be maintained by the OSH Act, as violations that must be 
disclosed under the Order. False statement violations have only 
criminal sanctions under the OSH Act. See id. As discussed above, 
criminal convictions of the Labor Laws are not reflected in the 
administrative merits determinations, civil judgments, or arbitral 
awards or decisions that must be disclosed. The Department therefore 
declines to amend the Guidance as requested.
c. Settlements
    Several commenters representing labor and worker advocacy 
organizations urged the Department to define administrative merits 
determination to expressly include settlements reached with an 
enforcement agency before the institution of legal proceedings, which 
would mean that contractor would be required by the Order to disclose 
any such settlements as "Labor Law decisions." Commenters argued that 
their proposal would address a concern that employers might repeatedly 
negotiate preemptive settlements with an enforcement agency during an 
investigation, and thus avoid the issuance of a Labor Law decision that 
would otherwise have to be disclosed. In such situations, according to 
these commenters, these employers' apparently clean records would not 
reflect their repeated unlawful conduct. Another commenter agreed that 
settlements should not be considered reportable findings of violation, 
but argued that they should nevertheless be disclosed as part of a 
responsibility determination. Another sought clarification whether a 
settlement reached prior to a complaint being filed must be disclosed 
under the Order.
    The Department maintains the Guidance as proposed. Settlements are 
not administrative merits determinations, and therefore contractors are 
not required by the Order to disclose them. The Department believes 
that the inclusion of settlements as administrative merits 
determinations could serve as a disincentive against settlements. 
Settlements at the earliest possible stage of a dispute are often the 
ideal outcome for both employers and their employees and the most 
efficient outcome for contracting agencies, as early settlements 
generally include improved compliance with the Labor Laws. The 
Department also notes that most settlements of agency investigations or 
enforcement actions follow or are accompanied by a notice or finding 
from the agency that meets the definition of an administrative merits 
determination. For example, OSHA settlements usually include the 
affirmation of citations. Those citations are themselves administrative 
merits determinations that must be disclosed. Likewise, settlements of 
FLSA investigations are often accompanied by a WH-56 form indicating 
WHD's determination that back wages are due because of an FLSA 
violation. The WH-56 form is an administrative merits determination and 
must be disclosed. However, any settlement agreement itself is not an 
administrative merits determination and therefore need not be 
disclosed.
    Although settlement agreements are not administrative merits 
determinations, a settlement including remediation of violations is 
considered to be a mitigating factor that the contractor may choose 
voluntarily to disclose. As a result, in cases where a settlement 
accompanies or follows a Labor Law decision that must be disclosed, the 
Department anticipates that contractors will voluntarily disclose the 
settlement because it is in the contractor's interest to show that it 
has remedied the violation. As discussed in the preaward assessment and 
advice section of the Guidance, remediation of a violation is the most 
important mitigating factor in the weighing process before an ALCA 
recommendation. See Guidance, section III(B). In sum, the Department 
considers the addition of settlements themselves as a type of 
administrative merits determination to be unwarranted.
2. Defining "Civil Judgment"
    The Proposed Guidance defined "civil judgment" as

any judgment or order entered by any Federal or State court in which 
the court determined that the contractor or subcontractor violated 
any provision of the Labor Laws, or enjoined or restrained the 
contractor or subcontractor from violating any provision of the 
Labor Laws.

80 FR 30574, 30580. The Proposed Guidance discussed the types of court 
judgments or orders that meet the definition of "civil judgment" and 
explained that a "private settlement where the lawsuit is dismissed by 
the court without any judgment being entered is not a civil judgment." 
Id. The Proposed Guidance provided that "civil judgment" includes a 
judgment or order that is not final or is subject to appeal. Id.
    A number of industry commenters who objected to the inclusion of 
nonfinal agency determinations in the definition of administrative 
merits determination had similar concerns about the definition of civil 
judgment. They objected to defining civil judgments to include court 
judgments that are either nonfinal or still subject to appeal, and they 
were concerned that they could lose a contract as a result of a 
judgment that is later reversed. For these commenters, a civil judgment 
should include only final orders or judgments where all appeals have 
been exhausted or not pursued. In addition, several industry commenters 
objected to including preliminary injunctions.
    The Department has carefully considered all of these comments and 
declines to limit the definition of civil judgment. The Proposed 
Guidance defined civil judgment to include some nonfinal and subject-
to-appeal court judgments for the same reasons that it defined 
administrative merits determinations to include nonfinal agency 
determinations. In addition to those reasons, which the Department 
incorporates here as well, the Department notes that it would make 
little sense to exclude Federal court judgments that follow a full 
discovery process under the Federal rules simply because these 
judgments still may be subject to appeal or have been appealed to a 
Federal court of appeals.
    The Department also reiterates that the Guidance's definition of 
civil judgment does not include all court decisions that are nonfinal. 
The Guidance's definition is limited to those judgments or orders in 
which the court "determined" that there was a Labor Law violation or 
"enjoined or restrained" a violation. This means that, for example, a 
court order denying an employer's motion to dismiss a complaint about 
an alleged Labor Law violation or an order denying an employer's motion 
for summary judgment would not be "civil judgments." In both of those 
examples, the court has found only that it is possible that the 
complainant may be able to succeed later at trial; it has not made a 
determination that a Labor Law has been violated.
    As several commenters noted, a type of nonfinal court order that 
the Department explicitly included as a civil judgment in the Proposed 
Guidance is a preliminary injunction that "enjoins or restrains a 
violation of the Labor Laws." 80 FR 30574, 30580. Preliminary 
injunctions issued in Federal court are not considered to be "final" 
orders. However, enforcement agencies may pursue injunctive relief when 
faced with the most egregious violations of the Labor Laws (for 
example, imminent danger actions under the OSH Act or 10(j) injunctions 
under the NLRA), and courts grant preliminary injunctions only in 
extraordinary circumstances and after a strong showing of a likelihood 
of success. Accordingly, the Department concludes that the granting of 
such relief may be relevant to the assessment of a contractor's respect 
for legal obligations and workplace conditions. It is therefore 
appropriate to require disclosure.
    Finally, the Department reiterates that the definition of "civil 
judgment" simply determines the scope of contractors' disclosure 
obligations--the first stage in the Order's process. Not all disclosed 
violations are relevant to contractors' integrity and business ethics. 
Only those that are later determined to be serious, repeated, willful, 
and/or pervasive will be considered as part of the weighing step and 
will factor into the ALCA's written analysis and advice. Moreover, 
contractors have an opportunity to submit any additional information--
including mitigating information--that they believe may be helpful in 
assessing their overall record of compliance. In sum, court judgments 
and orders that meet the definition of "civil judgment" must be 
disclosed--even where nonfinal or still subject to appeal.
    While the Department is not changing the definition of civil 
judgment, two clarifications are necessary. One commenter, the Equal 
Employment Advisory Council (EEAC), expressed concern that the 
definition of civil judgment would include temporary restraining orders 
(TROs). The Proposed Guidance did not intend to include TROs under the 
definition of civil judgment. TROs are distinct from preliminary 
injunctions under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and can, in 
certain circumstances, be issued without notice to the adverse party. 
Compare Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 65(a) (preliminary injunctions) with Fed. R. 
Civ. Proc. 65(b) (TROs). To avoid any confusion, the Guidance has been 
revised to clarify that TROs are not civil judgments for the purposes 
of the Order, and need not be disclosed.
    Another commenter, National Security Technologies, LLC, requested 
that the Department limit the definition of civil judgements to exclude 
judgments entered pursuant to accepted Offers of Judgment under Federal 
Rules of Civil Procedure 68, which are "in the nature of 
settlements." The Department agrees that accepted offers of judgment 
under Rule 68 are akin to settlements and are not "civil judgments" 
for the purposes of the Order. The Guidance has been revised 
accordingly.
3. Defining "Arbitral Award or Decision"
    The Proposed Guidance defined "arbitral award or decision" as

any award or order by an arbitrator or arbitral panel in which the 
arbitrator or arbitral panel determined that the contractor or 
subcontractor violated any provision of the Labor Laws, or enjoined 
or restrained the contractor or subcontractor from violating any 
provision of the Labor Laws.

80 FR 30580. The Proposed Guidance stated that arbitral awards and 
decisions must be disclosed "even if the arbitral proceedings were 
private or confidential." Id. It further provided that "arbitral 
award or decision" includes an award or order that is not final or is 
subject to being confirmed, modified, or vacated by a court. Id.
    Several industry commenters objected to disclosing arbitral awards 
or decisions that are confidential or private. The AARP, on the other 
hand, supported the disclosing of private or confidential arbitration 
awards and decisions. Industry commenters contended that disclosing 
awards may have a chilling effect on arbitration, that disclosure may 
require the breaking of arbitration or labor contracts, and that the 
confidentiality of arbitration is provided by some State laws. One 
commenter, the Aerospace Industries Association, suggested excluding
arbitral awards from confidential or private arbitrations conducted 
under arbitration agreements executed before the effective date of any 
final rule implementing the Order.
    The Department declines to narrow its interpretation of the 
disclosure requirement to exclude confidential or private arbitrations. 
The Order specifically requires the disclosure of arbitral awards or 
decisions without exception, see Order, section 2(a)(i), and 
confidentiality provisions generally have exceptions for disclosures 
required by law. Moreover, there is nothing particularly sensitive 
about the four pieces of basic information that contractors must 
publicly disclose about each arbitral award or decision--the Labor Law 
that was violated, the case number, the date of the award or decision, 
and the name of arbitrator. See FAR 22.2004-2(b)(1)(i). Parties 
routinely disclose more information about an arbitral award when they 
file a court action seeking to have the award vacated, confirmed, or 
modified.
    In addition to the commenters discussed above who object generally 
to disclosing any nonfinal determinations or judgments, some industry 
commenters specifically objected to disclosing nonfinal arbitration 
awards or decisions. The Department declines to modify the Guidance in 
response to these comments. The disclosure of arbitral awards that are 
nonfinal or still subject to court review is appropriate for all of the 
same reasons discussed above supporting the Department's inclusion of 
administrative merits determinations and civil judgments that are 
nonfinal or subject to appeal. Furthermore, the Department notes that 
the Federal Arbitration Act provides a very high standard that must be 
met for a court to vacate or modify an arbitral award. See 9 U.S.C. 10 
(standard for vacating award); 9 U.S.C. 11 (standard for modifying 
award).
    The AARP supported the proposed definition of arbitral award or 
decision, but proposed broadening the definition to include awards and 
decisions where the employee has succeeded "on any significant issue 
or receives even some of the benefits sought." Under this proposal, an 
award or decision would have to be disclosed, "even if there was no 
formal determination of a legal violation." The Department declines to 
modify the Guidance in response to this comment. The Order requires 
disclosure of arbitral awards or decisions rendered against the 
contractor "for violations of any of the [Labor Laws]." Order, 
section 2(a)(i). The Department believes that this requires a finding 
that a Labor Law was violated in order to trigger the Order's 
disclosure requirement.
    Two industry commenters requested clarification about arbitral 
decisions that involve both a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and 
one of the Labor Laws. One asserted that the Guidance's disclosure 
requirements should expressly exclude arbitral decisions finding CBA 
violations that do not amount to statutory violations. The other 
commenter, the Association of General Contractors of America (AGC), 
stated that arbitral decisions involving CBAs are often unclear about 
whether their rulings are "on a matter of law, contract, or both." 
The Department agrees that an arbitrator's decision finding only a CBA 
violation does not trigger the disclosure requirement. However, where 
the arbitrator does make an express finding that there was a violation 
of one of the Labor Laws, then the decision or award must be disclosed, 
regardless of whether the same conduct also violated the CBA.
4. Successive Labor Law Decisions Arising From the Same Underlying 
Violation
    The Proposed Guidance addressed and gave examples regarding how 
contractors should disclose successive administrative merits 
determinations, civil judgments, and/or arbitral awards or decisions 
that arise from the same underlying violation. See 80 FR 30580-81. One 
commenter, Jackson Lewis LLC, stated that this discussion would have 
been "unnecessary" had the Department not required disclosure of 
"alleged violations." According to this comment, "[n]othing in the 
already dense DOL Guidance is more complex than sorting what successive 
determinations must be reported and what need not be reported." After 
considering this comment, the Department modifies this section of the 
Guidance for improved readability--but does not make any substantive 
changes. The Department believes that the examples provided, including 
a new example, will help contractors meet their disclosure obligations 
under the Order.

C. Information That Must Be Disclosed (Formerly "What Information Must 
Be Disclosed")

    The Order itself contains guidance for what information a 
contractor must disclose. See Order, section 2(a). And the FAR rule 
includes specific disclosure requirements and processes. See FAR 
22.2004-1(a). This section of the Proposed Guidance directly tracked 
the language of the proposed FAR rule. Where the FAR Council has 
modified relevant language in its final rule, the Department has 
modified the final Guidance accordingly. In addition, in one 
nonsubstantive change to this section of the Guidance, the Department 
has created a separate subsection to highlight the process for 
contracting officers to give contractors the opportunity to submit any 
additional relevant information (including mitigating factors) about 
Labor Law violations. Several commenters submitted concerns or 
suggestions about this section; however, because comments took issue 
with the content of the FAR rule, the FAR Council has addressed those 
comments, and the comments are not summarized or discussed here.
Specific Disclosure Requirements
    The Proposed Guidance included the requirements from the proposed 
FAR rule about the specific information that a contractor must 
disclose, at the time of the responsibility determination, about each 
Labor Law decision. It provided that, for each decision, the contractor 
disclose: (1) The Labor Law that was violated; (2) the case number, 
inspection number, charge number, docket number, or other unique 
identification number; (3) the date of the determination, judgment, 
award, or decision; and (4) the name of the court, arbitrator(s), 
agency, board, or commission that rendered it. See 80 FR 30574, 30581.
    Several labor unions and employee advocacy organizations suggested 
requiring disclosure of more information than the four types of 
information listed above. The Department retains the Guidance as 
proposed. The specific disclosure requirements are promulgated in the 
final FAR rule, FAR 22.2004-2(b)(1)(i), and they are included in the 
Guidance only for completeness. Moreover, the Department notes that 
contracting officers have an existing duty under the FAR to obtain such 
additional information as may be necessary to be satisfied that a 
contractor has a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics, 
see FAR 9.105-1(a), and the FAR rule requires contracting officers to 
request Labor Law decision documents from contractors where the ALCA is 
otherwise unable to obtain them, see FAR 22.2004-2(b)(2)(iii). While 
the Department has not amended the list of specific disclosure 
requirements, it has added to the final Guidance a list of the relevant 
unique identification numbers for each category of violation.

Accuracy of Contractor Disclosures
    One group of worker-advocacy organizations expressed concern that 
the Guidance does not instruct contracting officials to verify the 
accuracy of the information that a contractor submits. The comment 
noted that a new Labor Law violation might be found against a 
contractor after the contractor's initial representation about its 
record. In such a case, the comment suggested, a contractor that 
responds negatively at the initial representation stage should be 
required at the subsequent preaward stage to provide an update about 
any new violations (assuming that a responsibility determination is 
undertaken at that point).
    Several unions and worker-advocacy groups applauded the proposed 
FAR rule and the Proposed Guidance for significantly improving 
reporting requirements and public disclosures; however, they also 
expressed concerns that the penalties for contractors who misrepresent 
or omit information when disclosing Labor Law violations should be 
strengthened. Several of these commenters argued that disclosures 
regarding Labor Law violations should be provided under oath and/or 
under penalty of perjury. Another commenter, the AARP, suggested that 
the FAR Council should clearly state that "failure to report 
violations will lead to a determination of nonresponsibility."
    The Department does not believe that contractor representations 
regarding Labor Law matters should be treated differently than other 
representations related to responsibility. Under the FAR, a contractor 
who fails to furnish a certification related to responsibility matters 
or to furnish such information as may be requested by the contracting 
officer related to that contractor's responsibility shall be given an 
opportunity to remedy the deficiency. See FAR 9.104-5. Ultimately, 
failure to furnish the certification or such information "may render 
the offeror nonresponsible." Id. In addition, well-established 
penalties already exist for bad faith and material misrepresentations 
regarding responsibility matters.\54\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \54\ A contractor may be disqualified, the award canceled, or 
the contract terminated if the misrepresentation is made in bad 
faith or has materially influenced the agency's responsibility 
determination. See Impresa Construzioni Geom. Domenico Garufi v. 
United States, 238 F.3d 1324, 1339-40 (Fed. Cir. 2001). Where the 
award is canceled, the contractor can be precluded from bidding on a 
reprocurement contract. See Northrop Grumman Corp. v. United States, 
50 Fed. Cl. 443, 468 (2001). Moreover, under appropriate 
circumstances, a contractor may also be suspended or debarred, or 
held liable under the False Claims Act, among other available 
remedies. See 31 U.S.C. 3730; 18 U.S.C. 1001.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department does recognize that a substantial period of time may 
pass between the contractor's initial representation and the date of 
the award. In particular, as the commenter referenced above suggested, 
a contractor may initially represent that it has no Labor Law decisions 
to disclose, but a Labor Law decision may be rendered against it after 
that initial representation prior to the date of an award. Contractors 
have a duty to provide an update to the contracting officer prior to 
the date of an award if the contractor's initial representation is no 
longer accurate. Thus, the final FAR rule now provides that if a new 
Labor Law decision is rendered or the contractor otherwise learns that 
its representation is no longer accurate, the contractor must notify 
the contracting officer of an update to its representation. See FAR 
52.222-57(e). This means that if the contractor made an initial 
representation that it had no Labor Law decision to disclose, and since 
the time of the offer the contractor has a Labor Law decision to 
disclose, the contractor must notify the contracting officer. The 
reverse is also true: If, for example, an offeror made an initial 
representation that it has a Labor Law decision to disclose, and since 
the time of the offer that Labor Law decision has been vacated by the 
enforcement agency or a court, the contractor must notify the 
contracting officer.
Postaward Disclosure Updates
    The disclosure section of the Proposed Guidance included a 
description of the Order's requirement that contractors update their 
disclosures postaward, during performance of a covered procurement 
contract. See 80 FR 30574, 30581. The Department has reorganized the 
final Guidance to consolidate discussion of postaward disclosure and 
assessment issues in a new section (Section IV). Comments about the 
postaward disclosure are addressed in a parallel section of this 
preamble section-by-section analysis, below.
Subcontractor Disclosures
    The disclosure section of the Proposed Guidance also included an 
explanation of the Order's subcontractor disclosure provisions. See 80 
FR 30574, 30582. The Department has reorganized the final Guidance to 
consolidate discussion of subcontractor issues in a new section 
(Section V). Comments about the subcontractor disclosure provisions are 
addressed in a parallel section of this preamble section-by-section 
analysis, below.

III. Preaward Assessment and Advice (Formerly "Weighing Violations of 
the Labor Laws")

    Section III of the Guidance explains the process by which ALCAs 
classify, weigh, and provide advice about a contractor's violations of 
the Labor Laws during the preaward period. Based on the comments 
received, the Department believes that the separate steps in this 
process may not have been emphasized clearly enough in the Proposed 
Guidance. Several commenters, for example, appeared to conflate the 
determination that a contractor had committed a serious, repeated, 
willful, and/or pervasive violation with a finding of 
nonresponsibility.
    In response to these comments, the final Guidance clarifies that 
the ALCA's preaward assessment of a contractor's Labor Law violations 
and the contracting officer's responsibility determination are separate 
process points, performed by two separate individuals: The ALCA 
assesses the nature of the violations and provides analysis and advice; 
the contracting officer, informed by the ALCA's analysis and advice, 
makes the responsibility determination--the determination of whether 
the contractor is a responsible source to whom a contract may be 
awarded. Contracting officers consider assessments provided by ALCAs 
consistently with advice provided by other subject matter experts 
during the responsibility determination.
    The final Guidance also clarifies that the ALCA's role involves a 
three-step process. First, an ALCA reviews all of the contractor's 
violations to determine if any are serious, repeated, willful, and/or 
pervasive. Second, the ALCA then weighs any serious, repeated, willful, 
and/or pervasive violations in light of the totality of the 
circumstances, including the severity of the violation(s), the size of 
the contractor, and any mitigating factors that are present. Third, 
after this holistic review, the ALCA provides written analysis and 
advice to the contracting officer regarding the contractor's record of 
Labor Law compliance, and whether a labor compliance agreement or other 
action is warranted.
    As noted above, the final Guidance clarifies that it is the 
contracting officer who makes the final determination of whether a 
contractor is, or is not, a responsible source.
    The assessment of violations postaward, during the performance of 
the contract, is now addressed separately in section IV of the 
Guidance. Similarly, the assessment of subcontractor violations is addressed 
separately in section V of the Guidance.
    The Department has modified Appendix E to reflect changes in the 
final Guidance's description of the PreAward Assessment and Advice 
process.

A. Classifying Labor Law Violations (Step One)

    The first step in this process is the classification of Labor Law 
violations as serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive. The Order 
specifically directs the Department to develop guidance to assist 
agencies in making these classification determinations. Order, section 
4(b)(i). The Order specifies that the Department's Guidance should 
"incorporate existing statutory standards for assessing whether a 
violation is serious, repeated, or willful" where they are available. 
Id. In addition, the Order provides the Department with parameters for 
developing standards where none are provided by statute. Id.
Subjectivity of Classification Criteria
    A number of industry commenters argued that the Proposed Guidance's 
definitions of serious, repeated, willful, and pervasive violations are 
too subjective and do not provide enough direction for contractors to 
determine whether their violations could put them at risk of losing 
Federal contracts. Some commenters expressed concern that whether a 
violation is serious, repeated, or willful may depend in some cases on 
an exercise of discretion by the official or investigator at the 
enforcement agency that issued the underlying administrative merits 
determination. In contrast, many worker-advocacy organizations and 
labor unions expressed support for the flexibility of these 
classification criteria and the Department's overall approach to 
weighing violations and assessing mitigating factors.
    While the Department acknowledges that some of the criteria for 
classifying Labor Law violations require closer analysis, the 
Department notes that many of the definitions set out objective 
criteria that leave little, if any, room for ambiguity. For example, 
whether a violation involves at least $10,000 in back wages or $5,000 
in fines or penalties (one of the criteria for classifying serious 
violations), or whether a violation occurs within 3 years of a prior 
violation (one of the criteria for classifying repeated violations) are 
straightforward matters. Furthermore, the Department expects that ALCAs 
will develop substantial expertise in administering the Order and will 
be well-positioned to classify and weigh each violation. In some cases, 
as set forth below, the Department has modified criteria that were not 
sufficiently clear.
    Moreover, the Department disagrees that the contracting officer's 
responsibility determination will be arbitrary if it includes 
consideration of the ALCA's assessment of Labor Law enforcement actions 
that themselves involve the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, such 
as an enforcement agency's decision as to how much of a fine or penalty 
to assess, or whether to find one violation or multiple violations. The 
Department believes that the legitimate exercise of such discretion is 
inherent in prosecuting Labor Law violations--just as it is for 
prosecuting violations of fraud, tax, and other laws that are already 
expressly considered in the responsibility determination under the 
FAR--and does not undermine the contracting officer's consideration of 
Labor Law enforcement actions under the Order.
    Furthermore, ALCAs are advisors to the contracting officer on one 
aspect of responsibility: Integrity and business ethics with regard to 
labor law compliance. Contracting officers consider the information 
provided by advisors such as ALCAs, as well as advice from other 
experts in fields such as audit, law, engineering, information 
security, and transportation.
Relationship of Classification Criteria to Disclosure Requirements
    A few commenters representing employers also expressed concern that 
they would be uncertain as to which violations must be disclosed due to 
perceived ambiguities in the definitions of serious, repeated, willful, 
and pervasive violations. Such comments misapprehended the role that 
these definitions play in the implementation of the Order. All Labor 
Law decisions must be disclosed, whether or not they involve violations 
that are serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive. As described above, 
the definitions of these four terms are used by ALCAs during the 
classification process to screen out minor infractions that have been 
disclosed, not by contractors to determine whether the decisions must 
be disclosed in the first place. The Department clarifies this point in 
the final Guidance.
Standard for Determining Application of Classification Criteria
    One industry commenter questioned what quantum of evidence will be 
necessary to support a determination that a Labor Law violation meets 
one of the criteria for establishing that a violation is serious, 
repeated, willful, or pervasive. In this regard, the commenter focused 
on language in the Proposed Guidance stating that a violation would 
meet one of the classification criteria if the Labor Law decision 
"support[s] a conclusion" that the criterion in question had been 
met, and the commenter expressed concern that this standard suggested 
that contractors could be found to have committed a serious, repeated, 
willful, or pervasive violation based on only scant evidence in the 
record supporting such a classification.
    The Department has clarified in the Guidance that to serve as the 
basis for a determination that a violation is serious, repeated, 
willful, and/or pervasive, the relevant criteria must be readily 
ascertainable from the Labor Law decision itself. This means that ALCAs 
should not second-guess or re-litigate enforcement actions or the 
decisions of reviewing officials, courts, and arbitrators. It also 
means that a contractor will not be deemed to have committed a serious, 
repeated, willful, or pervasive violation based on a minimal or 
arguable showing. While ALCAs and contracting officers may seek 
additional information from the enforcement agencies to provide 
context, they should rely on only the information contained in the 
Labor Law decisions themselves to determine whether violations are 
serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive.
Subcontractor Violation Classification
    Some of the comments by employer groups voiced additional concern 
about the way the Proposed Guidance described the process for a prime 
contractor to classify and weigh its subcontractors' Labor Law 
violations. These commenters asserted that many prime contractors, 
especially small businesses, will not have access to labor law experts 
or legal counsel familiar with the intricacies of the fourteen Labor 
Laws, and that these prime contractors would not be well-equipped to 
evaluate whether violations are serious, repeated, willful, or 
pervasive.
    The Guidance now contains a separate section addressing 
subcontractor responsibility (Section V). The Department addresses 
comments related to subcontractor responsibility in a parallel section 
of the preamble section-by-section analysis, below.
Scope of Classification Criteria
    Many commenters representing employer groups argued that the 
criteria for serious, repeated, willful, and pervasive violations were 
too broad and would encompass too many violations, which would increase 
the burden of the Order by subjecting more contractors to scrutiny. These 
commenters expressed concern that a prospective contractor would be found 
nonresponsible based on, for example, a pair of violations that were 
inadvertent but nonetheless met the criteria for repeated violations; 
or one or two OSH Act violations that, while meeting the statutory 
criteria for serious violations, caused no harm and were addressed 
swiftly. Some feared that even a single serious violation would 
necessarily lead to a nonresponsibility determination.
    The Department believes that this fear is misplaced. Below, in 
parts 1 through 4 of this subsection, the Department responds to 
commenters' specific concerns regarding the criteria used to classify 
violations as serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive. In some cases, 
as explained below, the definitions have been narrowed in response to 
concerns of over-inclusiveness.
    The Department believes the final Guidance appropriately defines 
its criteria, given their use in the classification and weighing 
process. It is important to note that the classification of a 
contractor's violation as serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive does 
not mean that the contractor loses an award. Rather, as noted in the 
Guidance, one of the purposes of classifying violations as serious, 
repeated, willful, and pervasive is to screen out many violations that 
may be inadvertent or less likely to have a significant impact. These 
classifications limit consideration of a contractor's violations to 
those that may merit closer examination. After the initial screening, 
ALCAs will conduct a review of these more significant violations, 
taking into account the totality of the circumstances, including any 
mitigating factors. In this weighing phase, the serious, repeated, 
willful, and pervasive classifications provide a useful framework for 
analysis and help ensure government-wide consistency. In the final 
Guidance, the Department clarifies the description of this process and 
has reiterated that classifying a violation as serious, repeated, 
willful, or pervasive does not automatically result in a finding that a 
contractor lacks integrity and business ethics.
    In sum, the Department believes the criteria set forth in the final 
Guidance for determining whether violations are serious, repeated, 
willful, or pervasive are fair, appropriate, and administrable.
Classification of Violations Involving Retaliation
    Some commenters representing employee interests expressed concern 
that the definitions of serious, repeated, and willful violations did 
not sufficiently account for violations involving retaliation. In 
general, it is the intent of the Guidance that violations of the Labor 
Laws that involve retaliation must be reported and assessed under the 
Order. The Department has made a number of modifications to the 
Guidance--discussed further below in the separate sections on serious, 
repeated, and willful violations--to ensure that this is the case. As 
stated in both the proposed and final Guidance, all violations 
involving retaliation are considered serious violations under the 
Order.
Effect of Reversal or Vacatur of Basis for Classification
    Some commenters expressed concern that under the Proposed Guidance, 
a violation could be classified as serious, repeated, willful, and/or 
pervasive based on a determination by an agency, arbitrator, or court 
that was later reversed, vacated, or otherwise rescinded. For example, 
some of these commenters expressed concern that a contractor could be 
found to have committed a serious violation based on an OSHA citation 
that was originally classified as "serious" and later changed to 
"other than serious" or withdrawn entirely.
    In response to these comments, the final Guidance clarifies that if 
a Labor Law decision or portion thereof that would otherwise cause a 
violation to be classified as serious, repeated, willful, and/or 
pervasive is reversed or vacated, the violation will not be classified 
as such under the Order. Just as a Labor Law decision that is reversed 
or vacated in its entirety need not be disclosed, so too, if a Labor 
Law decision is modified such that the underlying basis for the 
violation's classification as serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive 
has been reversed or vacated, the classification no longer applies.
    The sections below discuss comments received regarding the criteria 
for classifying violations as serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive 
and the changes that the Department has made to the Guidance in 
response to these comments. In addition to the changes discussed below, 
where necessary, the Department has also made conforming changes to the 
examples in the four appendices listing examples of the four categories 
of violations.
1. Serious Violations
    The Proposed Guidance set forth several classification criteria for 
determining whether a violation is serious under the Order. As an 
initial matter, some commenters indicated that the Proposed Guidance 
was unclear as to whether a violation needs to meet only one of the 
listed criteria in order to be considered serious. The Department 
believes that the Proposed Guidance was clear on this point in that it 
stated that a Labor Law violation that meets "at least one" of the 
listed classification criteria for seriousness will be considered a 
serious violation. To provide additional clarity, the final Guidance 
states that a violation involving "any one" of the listed criteria 
will be classified as serious. The Guidance also further clarifies that 
separate criteria apply to OSH Act violations enforced through 
citations, as discussed in the section below.
a. OSH Act and OSHA-Approved State Plan Violations Enforced Through 
Citations and Equivalent State Documents (Formerly "OSH Act")
    In the Proposed Guidance, the Department stated that a violation is 
serious under the Order if OSHA or an OSHA-approved State Plan issued a 
citation that it designated as serious, issued a notice of failure to 
abate, or issued an imminent danger notice. The Proposed Guidance also 
listed several criteria under which violations of any of the Labor Laws 
can be classified as serious. The Department received several comments 
regarding the classification of violations under the OSH Act and OSHA-
approved State Plans.
Classification of Non-Citation OSHA Violations
    Several commenters requested clarification about the classification 
of OSH Act and OSHA-approved State Plan violations that are not 
enforced through citations--such as retaliation, false-statement 
violations, notices of failure to abate, and imminent danger notices 
("non-citation OSHA violations"). These commenters noted that such 
violations are enforced not through citations but through notices or 
through complaints filed in court. Thus, for these violations, OSHA and 
State Plan agencies never make a designation of "serious," as they do 
with OSH Act and State Plan violations enforced by citation ("citation 
OSHA violations"). These commenters suggested that the Guidance should 
be clarified to ensure that non-citation OSHA violations may still be 
classified as serious under the Order.
    The Department agrees that non-citation OSHA violations may still 
be classified as serious under the Order. The final Guidance therefore 
clarifies the treatment of OSH Act violations by dividing serious 
violations into two categories. The first consists of citation OSHA 
violations, while the second consists of all other violations of the 
Labor Laws. This second category includes all non-citation OSHA violations, 
as well as violations of the other Labor Laws. The final Guidance states 
that a citation OSHA violation is serious if--and only if--the violation 
involves a citation or equivalent State document that was designated as 
serious or an equivalent State designation.\55\ Non-citation OSHA violations 
are classified as "serious" according to the same criteria that are used 
to classify violations of the other Labor Laws. For example, if a court 
issues a civil judgment finding that a contractor violated the OSH 
Act's anti-retaliation provisions by firing a worker in retaliation for 
filing a complaint with OSHA, an ALCA should find that this violation 
is serious because it meets the retaliation criterion for serious 
violation under the Order, as discussed below in section 
III(A)(1)(b)(vi) of this section-by-section analysis.\56\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \55\ Thus, OSH Act and State Plan citations that were designated 
by the relevant enforcement agency as other-than-serious cannot be 
classified as serious under the Order, even if they satisfy one of 
the criteria applicable to other violations of the Labor Laws (such 
as violations that affect 25 percent of the workforce).
    \56\ As a result of this clarification, notices of failure to 
abate a violation and imminent danger notices, which are non-
citation OSHA violations, are now discussed below in subsection (v) 
of section III(A)(1)(b), "All other violations of the Labor Laws."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Classification of Citation OSHA Violations
    With respect to OSH Act and State Plan violations enforced through 
citations, the Department received several comments. Employee advocates 
generally supported the Department's proposal to use OSHA or OSHA-
approved State Plan designations of "serious" as the basis for 
classifying violations as "serious" under the Order. In contrast, 
industry commenters expressed concern with this approach. The industry 
commenters pointed out that a substantial majority of OSHA violations 
were designated as serious.\57\ They argued that while the term 
"serious" may be appropriate in the context of OSH Act enforcement, 
the use of the OSH Act's "serious" designation for the Order is 
inconsistent with the Proposed Guidance's goal of identifying those 
violations that are "most concerning and bear on an assessment of a 
contractor's or subcontractor's integrity and business ethics." Some 
of the industry commenters noted that serious violations under the OSH 
Act may in some cases include what they characterized as "technical 
violations" of certain standards.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \57\ In 2015, approximately 74 percent of OSHA violations were 
designated as serious. This data is available on OSHA's Web site at 
https://www.osha.gov/dep/2015_enforcement_summary.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    While the Department recognizes these commenters' concerns, the 
final Guidance retains this aspect of the definition of serious 
violations. The Order requires that the Department's Guidance "shall . 
. . where available, incorporate existing statutory standards for 
assessing whether a violation is serious, repeated, or willful." 
Order, section 4(b)(i)(A). The OSH Act is alone among the Labor Laws 
identified in the Order in that it contains an explicit statutory 
standard for assessing whether a violation is serious. See 29 U.S.C. 
666(k) (stating that a violation is serious "if there is a substantial 
probability that [the hazard created by the violation could result in] 
death or serious physical harm... unless the employer did not, and 
could not with the exercise of reasonable diligence, know" of the 
existence of the violation). This standard reflects a congressional 
determination that OSH Act violations that meet the above definition 
are serious and should be evaluated and enforced accordingly. Moreover, 
this standard underscores the severe consequences that can result from 
such violations, regardless of their relative prevalence.
    Accordingly, the Guidance's definition explicitly incorporates the 
OSH Act's definition of a serious violation, as contemplated by the 
Order. The Guidance retains the approach under which ALCAs will 
classify as "serious" under the Order any citation that the relevant 
enforcement agency designated as serious. As noted above, the 
classification of a violation as serious under the Order does not mean 
that the contractor will not receive an award. Rather, the purpose of 
classifying certain violations as serious is to limit the scope of 
violations that will be considered by an ALCA to those that merit 
closer examination. Moreover, in the second step of the assessment 
process, ALCAs will review all mitigating factors provided by the 
contractor, including whether a violation has been remediated.
b. All Other Violations of the Labor Laws
    The Proposed Guidance listed several other criteria that, if met, 
would result in the classification of a violation as serious. As noted 
above, under the final Guidance, these criteria apply to all violations 
except OSH Act and OSHA-approved State Plan violations that are 
enforced through citations and equivalent State documents. Comments on 
each of these classification criteria are addressed in turn below.
i. Violation Affects at Least 10 Workers Making up at Least 25 Percent 
of the Contractor's Workforce at the Worksite or Overall (Formerly 
"25% of the Workforce Affected")
    The Proposed Guidance stated that a Labor Law violation is serious 
if the affected workers made up 25 percent or more of the workforce at 
the worksite. Consistent with the Order's direction, the Department 
believes that violations impacting a significant number of employees 
are serious. The Department specifically sought comments on this 
classification criterion.
    Some unions and employee-advocacy organizations argued that this 
threshold may exclude violations that affect significant numbers of 
people--such as a violation that affects all of the workers in a 
particular job category--but do not reach the 25 percent threshold. 
Some groups advocated for a lower threshold such as 5 percent, while 
others argued that additional thresholds should be added, such as 
deeming a violation serious if it affects at least a certain number of 
employees (e.g., at least 50 employees). Some of these groups also 
argued that a violation should be serious if it affects at least 25 
percent of a contractor's overall workforce--in addition to the 
worksite-specific threshold.
    In contrast, some employer groups argued that the 25 percent 
threshold is too low and will be over-inclusive. Some asserted that 
certain types of violations, such as an employer's failure to post 
required employee-rights notices or establishment of general workplace 
policies that are found to violate the law but whose consequences may 
not be readily apparent, should not qualify as serious. Some of these 
commenters proposed eliminating the 25 percent criterion, raising the 
threshold, tailoring it to each Labor Law, or permitting it to be 
waived under appropriate circumstances. Some recommended that this 
threshold, if it remains in the Guidance, apply only to employers with 
at least a specified minimum number of employees to avoid situations in 
which the threshold is triggered by a very small number of affected 
workers.
    Additionally, some commenters requested that the Department clarify 
how the 25 percent threshold would apply to violations spanning 
multiple worksites. Two of these commenters criticized the Department's 
definition of the term "worksite," suggesting that it was ambiguous when 
compared with the regulatory definition under the Worker Adjustment and 
Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, 29 U.S.C. 2101-2109. See 20 CFR 
639.3. Two commenters requested the Department clarify how the 25 
percent threshold would apply to construction contractors. One proposed 
that the Guidance state that "a violation is serious if it affects 25 
[percent] of the workforce of the particular contractor or 
subcontractor, working at a specific construction site." Another noted 
that in the construction industry the number of workers at a worksite 
often varies, so it would be difficult to determine the total number of 
workers for this analysis.
    After careful consideration of all these comments, the Department 
retains the 25 percent threshold for this criterion in the final 
Guidance, though with some modifications. The Order explicitly directs 
the Department to take into account "the number of employees 
affected" in determining whether a violation is serious. Order, 
section 4(b)(i)(B)(1). Accordingly, the Department considers a 
violation affecting numerous employees to be serious, even if it may 
not result in significant back wages or penalties or place workers in 
danger of immediate harm. This includes precisely the types of 
violations identified by industry commenters. Failing to post a legally 
required notice, for example, is serious because it deprives employees 
of knowledge of their rights under the Labor Laws, which could result 
in violations not being detected. The Department believes that the 
threshold is appropriate.
    In response to the commenters' concerns, however, the Department 
has modified the 25 percent threshold so it applies only when the 
violation affects at least 10 workers. This change avoids triggering 
the 25 percent threshold when only a few workers are affected. The 
Department declines to set a higher minimum number of workers because 
it believes that violations affecting a significant percentage of a 
workforce are serious even if the overall size of a workforce is small. 
For example, if a small business that employs only 40 employees commits 
a violation that affects 15 of those employees, such a violation should 
be considered serious even though the overall number of affected 
employees is relatively low.
    The Department has also added an example to the Guidance to help 
clarify how this criterion applies to worksites with multiple 
employers. The Proposed Guidance stated that for purposes of 
calculating the 25 percent threshold, the number of workers at the 
worksite

does not include workers of another entity, unless the underlying 
violation of the Labor Laws includes a finding that the contractor 
or subcontractor is a joint employer of the workers that the other 
entity employs at the worksite.

80 FR 30583. The final Guidance now explains that if a contractor 
employs 40 workers at a worksite, then a violation is serious if it 
affects at least 10 of the contractor's workers at the site, even if 
other companies also employ an additional 40 workers at the same site.
    The Department declines to replace the 25 percent threshold 
entirely with a threshold based on an absolute minimum number of 
workers. Such a threshold would disproportionately affect larger 
employers. The Department also declines to adopt a criterion based on a 
violation's effect on all employees in a particular job classification. 
Such a criterion would not be easily administrable because it would 
frequently require ALCAs to perform the difficult task of 
distinguishing between job classifications.
    The Department also declines to lower the threshold of affected 
workers from 25 percent. While any threshold will necessarily include 
some violations and exclude others, the Department believes that 25 
percent is an appropriate benchmark for determining whether a violation 
affects a sufficient number of workers to be considered serious--
therefore warranting further review. While recognizing the concerns of 
employee advocates that certain violations may fall short of the 
threshold, the Department notes that these violations may meet other 
criteria for seriousness. The Department also recognizes the concerns 
of employer groups that the 25 percent threshold is overinclusive, but 
the Department believes that these concerns will be addressed by the 
overall assessment of a contractor's violations, and particularly the 
assessment of mitigating factors.
    The Department declines to make other changes to the definition of 
"worksite." The Department notes that the definition in the Guidance 
is already similar to the definition of "single site of employment" 
under WARN Act regulations. Both definitions provide that: (1) A 
worksite can be a single building or a group of buildings in one campus 
or office park, but that separate buildings that are not in close 
proximity are generally separate worksites; and (2) for workers who do 
not have a fixed worksite, their worksite is the site to which they are 
assigned as their home base, from which their work is assigned, or to 
which they report. See 20 CFR 639.3(i). These similarities support the 
Department's conclusion that the definition of "worksite" in the 
Guidance is appropriate.
    With regard to construction workers specifically, the Department 
anticipates that construction workers who regularly work at multiple 
sites will in most cases fall into the latter category described above; 
namely, their worksite will be the site to which they are assigned as 
their home base, from which their work is assigned, or to which they 
report. The FMLA's implementing regulations, which adopt a similar 
definition of worksite, provide helpful examples for determining the 
number of workers at construction worksites. See 29 CFR 825.111(a)(2).
    The Department agrees with the commenters who suggested that a 
violation should be serious if it affects at least 25 percent of a 
contractor's overall workforce (provided that it affects at least 10 
workers). The final Guidance has been modified accordingly. In 
practice, in the vast majority of cases (if not all cases) in which a 
violation affects at least 25 percent of a contractor's overall 
workforce, it will also affect at least 25 percent of the contractor's 
workforce at a particular worksite; however, this criterion has been 
added to ensure coverage of violations that are not specific to a 
particular worksite.
ii. Fines, Penalties, and Back Wages (Formerly "Fines, Penalties, Back 
Wages, and Injunctive Relief")
    The Proposed Guidance stated that a violation would be serious if 
fines and penalties of at least $5,000 were assessed, back wages of at 
least $10,000 were due, or injunctive relief was imposed by an 
enforcement agency or a court.
Threshold Amounts
    Numerous commenters addressed the proposed $5,000 and $10,000 
thresholds. These commenters were divided as to whether the thresholds 
were too high or too low. Industry commenters advocated raising these 
amounts. In particular, they argued that the $10,000 back-wage 
threshold is overbroad and would encompass too many violations. A few 
of these commenters addressed the fine-and-penalty thresholds and urged 
the Department to base them on the amount collected rather than 
assessed. One commenter suggested that the back wage threshold should 
be tied to the size of the contractor. Another organization argued that 
such a standard is overbroad as it applies to violations of anti-discrimination 
Labor Laws. This commenter asserted that the monetary thresholds under this 
criterion would disproportionately classify discrimination violations as serious 
when compared, for instance, to wage-and-hour violations. Another 
commenter similarly asserted that most actions under Title VII, the 
ADA, the ADEA, and the NLRA seeking backpay would trigger a finding of 
a serious violation using a $10,000 threshold.
    In contrast, many employee-advocacy and union commenters asserted 
that the $10,000 back-wage threshold is too high and would not capture 
violations affecting low-wage workers. Several requested clarification 
regarding whether the back-wage threshold could be satisfied by adding 
together the back wages due to multiple employees in the same matter. 
Three of these commenters proposed, as an alternative or additional 
metric, that a violation be characterized as serious when the amount of 
back wages due is equal to ten percent or more of wages paid the worker 
annually. Some commenters also suggested that the Department define a 
violation as serious any time that fees are awarded or penalties are 
assessed for wage-and-hour violations.
    After carefully reviewing all of these comments, the Department 
retains the $5,000 and $10,000 thresholds in the final Guidance. The 
Order explicitly instructs the Department to take into account "the 
amount of damages incurred or fines or penalties assessed with regard 
to the violation." Order, section 4(b)(i)(B)(1).
    While violations of some Labor Laws may satisfy the monetary 
thresholds more often than others, the Department concludes that 
creating statute-specific thresholds would not further the goals of the 
Order. First, even if discrimination violations are more likely than 
wage-and-hour law violations to result in back-wage awards of greater 
than $10,000, in both cases an employer has wrongfully denied 
employee(s) $10,000 in wages.\58\ In terms of the economic impact on 
the workforce, $10,000 in lost wages due to discrimination is just as 
serious as $10,000 in lost wages due to a wage-and-hour violation. A 
sum of $10,000 is over 18 percent of the median household income in the 
United States, and over 31 percent of the median nonfamily household 
income.\59\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \58\ The Department has removed one paragraph from the Guidance 
relating to statistics on the WHD administrative merits 
determinations that would meet the $10,000 and $5,000 thresholds. 
This modification is intended to eliminate extraneous information 
from the final Guidance and does not indicate any substantive change 
in its application.
    \59\ See U.S. Census Bureau, "Income, Poverty and Health 
Insurance Coverage in the U.S.: 2015," http://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-157.html (Sept. 16, 2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Second, as described above, classifying violations as serious, 
repeated, willful, and pervasive aims to screen out Labor Law 
violations that are less significant for purposes of the Order and to 
focus on those violations that are more likely to implicate a 
contractor's integrity and business ethics. After this initial 
screening, an ALCA then weighs these violations in light of the 
totality of the circumstances and any mitigating factors that are 
present. Thus, while a single civil judgment awarding $15,000 in back 
wages to an employee in a Title VII lawsuit will be classified as 
serious under the Order, an ALCA generally should not make a negative 
assessment of the contractor's record of Labor Law compliance based on 
this violation standing alone.
    It is also noteworthy that, as discussed below, many violations of 
the Labor Laws will not implicate these thresholds at all because back 
wages and penalties have not, or cannot, be assessed. For example, 
reasonable cause determinations by the EEOC cannot implicate these 
thresholds because they do not specify an amount of back wages. 
Similarly, as discussed below, the $5,000 threshold for fines and 
penalties (as opposed to back wages) will only be implicated in 
administrative enforcement matters where fines and penalties are 
assessed, and not private litigation or arbitration where they are not.
    The Department also declines to lower the amounts of the monetary 
thresholds under this criterion because it believes the amounts are 
appropriate. Some unions and employee advocates appeared to construe 
the Proposed Guidance as suggesting that the $10,000 back-wage 
threshold applied only on a per-employee basis. The Department 
clarifies in the final Guidance that the thresholds are cumulative; 
i.e., they can be satisfied by summing the fines and penalties assessed 
for all workers affected by the violation or by summing the back wages 
due to all affected employees.
    Similarly, the Department rejects the proposal to classify as 
serious all wage-and-hour violations involving fees or penalties. The 
Order instructs the Department to take into account "the amount" of 
fines or penalties assessed in defining serious violations. Order, 
section 4(b)(i)(B(1). Thus, the Order contemplates that the Department 
will establish a threshold for fines or penalties assessed for the 
purposes of determining whether a violation is serious.
    The Department also does not adopt the proposal to use an 
alternative criterion for serious violations based on the ratio of back 
wages due compared with the affected workers' annual pay. While this 
could be an informative metric, this information will generally not be 
readily ascertainable from Labor Law decisions. To facilitate efficient 
and consistent enforcement of the Order, the Department seeks to ensure 
that ALCAs rely only on information that can be easily obtained by 
reviewing Labor Law decisions.
    However, in response to these and other comments, the Department 
has modified the guidance on monetary thresholds in several respects. 
First, the Proposed Guidance stated that the threshold amounts are 
measured by the amount the enforcement agency "assessed." Many 
employer groups argued that this threshold should instead take into 
consideration any later reduction in the assessed amount--either where 
the enforcement agency unilaterally reduces this amount or where it is 
reduced during settlement negotiations. These commenters asserted that 
enforcement agencies may initially assess a very high amount or the 
statutory maximum as a negotiating tactic with little regard for the 
seriousness of the violation. One commenter further argued that the 
meaning of "assessed" is ambiguous given that some enforcement 
agencies, such as the NLRB, typically do not quantify or otherwise 
assess monetary amounts in a complaint.
    The Department agrees with industry commenters on this point and 
has modified the Guidance accordingly. The final Guidance states that 
the thresholds are measured by the amount "due." This means that if 
an enforcement agency consents to accept a reduced amount of either 
back wages or penalties for a violation, it is that lesser amount that 
will be used to determine seriousness. As stated in the Proposed 
Guidance, a reduced settlement amount may be based on factors other 
than the seriousness of a violation. In other circumstances, however, 
the reduction may reflect the enforcement agency's judgment that a 
lower assessment more appropriately reflects the seriousness of a 
particular violation. The Department believes that reliance on the 
final agreed-upon amount will avoid confusion because this amount will 
likely be the one memorialized in the parties' records. Similarly, if 
the amount initially assessed by an enforcement agency is later reduced 
by an adjudicative body--for example, if the Department files a civil 
complaint in an FLSA case seeking $15,000 in back wages but a court 
awards only $8,000--it is the reduced amount that is relevant for 
evaluating seriousness.
    Reliance on a lesser amount will not apply if an employer files for 
bankruptcy and cannot pay the full amount, or simply refuses to pay 
such that the full penalty is never collected. In such cases, the 
original assessed amount is the amount due, and therefore should be 
used when evaluating seriousness.
    The Department has also modified the definition of "fines and 
penalties" that will implicate the $5,000 threshold. Specifically, 
this definition now includes only monetary penalties imposed by an 
administrative agency and does not include liquidated damages under the 
ADEA or punitive damages under other statutes. This change has been 
made both in response to concerns about the scope of the $5,000 
threshold and to simplify administration of the Order. As noted in 
Guidance, however, liquidated damages under the FLSA are included in 
the calculation of back wages because they are compensatory in nature.
    For clarity, the Department has also added a paragraph to the 
Guidance explaining that if an enforcement agency issues an 
administrative merits determination that does not include an amount of 

back wages due or fines or penalties assessed--for example, if the 
Department files a complaint seeking back wages but does not specify 
the amount--then the violation cannot be classified as serious using 
this criterion until the amount has been determined.
    Finally, one commenter recommended clarifying the Guidance to 
address any mitigation of damages from an employee's interim 
employment. The commenter argued that employees' earnings from 
obtaining interim employment should not be factored into the amount of 
total back wages for the purpose of the $10,000 threshold. The 
Department declines to modify the Guidance on this point. ALCAs will 
use the amount of back wages due set forth in the Labor Law decision, 
whether or not that amount reflects an adjustment for mitigation. To 
facilitate efficient and consistent enforcement of the Order, the 
Department seeks to ensure that ALCAs rely only on information that is 
readily ascertainable from Labor Law decisions.
Injunctive Relief
    The Proposed Guidance stated that a violation would be classified 
as serious if injunctive relief "was imposed by an enforcement agency, 
a court, or an arbitrator or arbitral panel." 80 FR at 30584.
    In response to the proposal, some industry groups commented that 
the imposition of injunctive relief alone should not justify 
classifying a violation as serious. In their view, injunctive relief is 
often imposed regardless of the nature or severity of the violation, 
and as a result, they expressed concern that this criterion would 
capture minor or technical violations. For example, these commenters 
noted that the NLRB always or almost always imposes injunctive relief, 
including requiring the employer to post a notice that it has been 
found in violation of the NLRA. These commenters suggested that this 
criterion should be eliminated or modified to include additional 
criteria justifying the conclusion that the violation was serious. In 
contrast, commenters representing workers agreed with the Proposed 
Guidance that the imposition of injunctive relief warrants 
characterizing the violation as serious, given that such relief is 
rarely imposed by courts.
    After the consideration of the above comments, the Department has 
removed injunctive relief from the list of criteria used to classify 
violations as serious in the final Guidance. The Department agrees that 
including all injunctions entered by courts, arbitrators, and 
enforcement agencies as serious may include violations that do not 
necessarily bear on a contractor's integrity and business ethics.
    However, the Department believes that the imposition of injunctive 
relief by courts could be relevant to the ALCA's ultimate assessment of 
a contractor's record of Labor Law compliance. Courts issue injunctions 
only in rare circumstances.\60\ A preliminary injunction--an injunction 
entered before a final judgment--is an "extraordinary remedy." Winter 
v. Natural Res. Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 22, 24 (2008). Specifically,
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \60\ For example, as an article cited by one commenter noted, 
studies have found that courts issue injunctions in less than 3 
percent of Federal employment discrimination cases. See Mark D. 
Gough, "The High Costs of an Inexpensive Forum: An Empirical 
Analysis of Employment Discrimination Claims Heard in Arbitration 
and Civil Litigation," 35 Berkeley J. Emp. & Lab. L. 91, 105 n.62 
(2015).

[a] plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that 
he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer 
irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the 
balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
the public interest.

    Id. at 20. Thus, in cases involving the enforcement of the Labor 
Laws, preliminary injunctions will be issued only when a court has 
concluded that the employer has likely violated one of the Labor Laws 
and that such conduct threatens to irreparably harm workers and the 
public interest. A permanent injunction--one issued at the end of 
litigation--requires essentially the same showing, except that the 
plaintiff must show actual success on the merits rather than a 
likelihood of success. See Amoco Prod. Co. v. Vill. of Gambell, AK, 480 
U.S. 531, 546 n.12 (1987).
    Because both preliminary and permanent injunctions imposed by 
courts are rare and require a showing of compelling circumstances, 
including irreparable harm to workers and a threat to the public 
interest, the Department believes that if a contractor has already been 
found to have committed serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive 
violations, ALCAs should examine whether any of those violations 
resulted in the imposition of injunctive relief by a court. The 
Department has therefore moved the discussion of injunctive relief into 
the "weighing" section of the Guidance: "Factors that weigh against 
a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance." See Guidance, section 
III(B)(2). Thus, the imposition of injunctive relief alone will not 
result in a violation being classified as serious. However, if a 
violation has already been classified as serious, repeated, willful, 
and/or pervasive, the imposition of injunctive relief for such a 
violation will weigh against a finding that the contractor is 
responsible.
iii. Any Violations That Cause or Contribute to Death or Serious Injury 
(Formerly "MSPA or Child Labor Violations That Cause or Contribute to 
Death or Serious Injury")
    Under the Proposed Guidance, any violation of MSPA or the FLSA 
child labor provisions that causes or contributes to the death or 
serious injury of one or more workers is a serious violation.
    Several employee advocacy organizations suggested that a violation 
of any Labor Law, not just MSPA or the FLSA, should be serious when the 
violation causes or contributes to the death or serious injury of a 
worker. Many also requested that physical assault--whether or not it 
results in death or a serious injury--be considered a serious 
violation. They argued that any physical assault was inherently severe 
and so should be deemed serious. Similarly, some commenters suggested 
that any violation involving sexual harassment should be deemed a 
serious violation.
    The Department adopts the first of these proposals but not the 
latter two. The Proposed Guidance limited this criterion to MSPA and 
the FLSA child-labor provisions because, other than the OSH Act and 
State Plans, violations of MSPA's health-and-safety provisions and the 
FLSA's child-labor provisions are most likely to have the potential to 
result in death or serious injury.\61\ However, in the less likely 
event that a violation of one of the remaining Labor Laws causes or 
contributes to death or serious injury, the Department agrees that the 
violation would be serious. The Department therefore adopts this change 
in the final Guidance. As a related matter, the final Guidance also 
modifies the definition of "serious injury" for purposes of this 
criterion; rather than incorporating by reference the meaning of 
"serious injury" from the FLSA's child labor provisions, the Guidance 
explicitly defines "serious injury" as an injury that requires the 
care of a medical professional beyond first-aid treatment or results in 
more than five days of missed work.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \61\ The Proposed Guidance did not reference the OSH Act or 
OHSA-approved State Plans here because any violation of the OSH Act 
or OSHA-approved State Plans involving a risk of death or serious 
injury will be enforced with a citation designated as serious and 
thus will already be a serious violation under the Order. This 
criterion is intended to capture violations of other Labor Laws that 
result in death or serious injury.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department does not adopt the suggestions regarding physical 
assault or sexual harassment. While the Department agrees that many 
violations involving physical assault or sexual harassment are serious, 
the Department declines to broaden this criterion because these terms 
can also include more minor workplace altercations or interactions.
iv. Employment of Minors Who Are Too Young To Be Legally Employed or in 
Violation of a Hazardous Occupations Order
    The Department did not receive comments directly addressing this 
criterion. The Department retains the Guidance as proposed.
v. Notices of Failure To Abate and Imminent Danger Notices
    The Proposed Guidance stated that a violation is serious under the 
Order if it involves a notice of failure to abate an OSH Act violation 
or an imminent danger notice under the OSH Act or an OSHA-approved 
State Plan. The Department did not receive comments specifically 
addressing these criteria, with the exception of the comments described 
above requesting that the Department clarify that non-citation OSHA 
violations such as these are serious under the Order despite not having 
being designated as "serious" by the relevant enforcement agency.
    As noted above, the Department has clarified this matter in the 
final Guidance by dividing OSH Act and OSHA-approved State Plan 
violations into two categories: Citation OSHA violations, which are 
serious if, and only if, they were designated as such by the relevant 
enforcement agency; and Non-Citation OSHA Violations, which are serious 
if they meet other criteria listed in the Guidance. Because notices of 
failure to abate and imminent danger notices fall into the second 
category, the final Guidance lists them separately from citation OSHA 
violations. The final Guidance also clarifies that notices of failure 
to abate State Plan violations (as well as any State equivalents of 
notices of failure to abate or imminent danger notices) are serious 
violations because failing to correct a hazard after receiving formal 
notification of the need to do so represents a serious disregard for 
the law.
vi. Retaliation (Formerly "Adverse Employment Actions or Unlawful 
Harassment for Exercising Rights Under Labor Laws")
    The Proposed Guidance classified violations involving "adverse 
employment actions or unlawful harassment for exercising rights under 
Labor Laws," i.e., retaliation, as serious. The Department defined 
"adverse employment actions" to include discharge, refusal to hire, 
suspension, demotion, or threats.
    A number of commenters expressed general support for the inclusion 
of retaliation within the definition of a serious violation. Some 
supportive commenters were concerned, however, that the Department had 
limited "adverse employment action" to only the five types of adverse 
action explicitly listed in the Proposed Guidance. These commenters 
urged the Department to adopt instead the Supreme Court's definition of 
adverse employment action in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway 
Company v. White, 548 U.S. 53 (2006). Under Burlington Northern, to 
prove retaliation under Title VII, a plaintiff "must show that a 
reasonable employee would have found the challenged action materially 
adverse, which in this context means it well might have dissuaded a 
reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of 
discrimination." Id. at 68 (internal citations and quotation marks 
omitted). While this definition does not include "petty slights, minor 
annoyances, and simple lack of good manners," it does include 
constructive discharges; transfers to undesirable shifts, locations, or 
positions; or changes in other terms and conditions of employment, see 
id., none of which were specifically listed in the Proposed Guidance.
    The Department finds the comments regarding Burlington Northern 
persuasive. In particular, it agrees with the AARP comment that 

"[r]etaliation that could deter a reasonable worker from exercising a 
protected right [under the Labor Laws] is per se serious." The 
Department concludes that Burlington Northern provides a useful 
standard for what constitutes an adverse action sufficient to support a 
finding of retaliation, and modifies the Guidance to adopt it. The 
Department further notes that the list of examples of adverse actions 
in the Guidance is not meant to be exclusive.
    In contrast to the generally supportive comments about this 
criterion from employee-advocacy groups, several employer groups 
opposed the classification of violations involving retaliation as 
serious. These industry commenters argued that many allegations of 
discrimination include accusations of retaliation as a matter of 
course, and that many large employers will have one or more such 
allegations pending at any given time.
    The Department retains retaliation as a classification criterion 
for serious violations. As noted in the Proposed Guidance, retaliation 
is serious because it dissuades workers from reporting violations and 
therefore may mask other serious conduct by employers. In response to 
concerns that retaliation allegations may be included in discrimination 
complaints as a matter of course, the Department reiterates that a 
private complaint is not disclosable as a Labor Law decision under the 
Order unless and until it leads to an administrative merits 
determination, a civil judgment, and or an arbitral award or decision. 
A complaint alone must be disclosed only if it has been filed by an 
enforcement agency following an investigation, and therefore 
constitutes an administrative merits determination. In sum, the 
Department believes that retaliation is serious, and the final Guidance 
retains this criterion.
    While retaining the criterion, the Department modifies it for 
clarity. Two industry commenters suggested that the language in the 
Proposed Guidance could have allowed a finding that an "adverse 
employment action" alone is a serious violation under the Order--
regardless of whether it was taken in retaliation for protected activity. 
That was not the Department's intent. Rather, an adverse employment action 
only becomes relevant to this criterion when it is taken in retaliation 
for a worker exercising a right protected by any of the Labor Laws. 
To clarify the Guidance, the Department has changed the title of this 
criterion to "retaliation" and has adjusted the wording of the description 
accordingly.\62\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \62\ Similarly, the Business Roundtable commented on one of the 
Proposed Guidance's examples of retaliatory behavior that referenced 
an employee who is disciplined for making a complaint about 
potential violations of Labor Laws. The Business Roundtable 
expressed concern that any employee complaint could be deemed a 
serious violation. However, the Proposed Guidance did not suggest 
that the employee's complaint itself could be considered a serious 
violation; rather, the relevant serious violation would be where an 
administrative merits determination, civil judgment, or arbitral 
award or decision finds that the employer retaliated against the 
employee for making the complaint.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    One commenter expressed concern about the NLRA example of a serious 
violation in Appendix A, which describes a contractor that fired the 
employee who was the lead union adherent during the union's organizing 
campaign. The commenter noted that such behavior would only be unlawful 
if the discharge was in retaliation for the employee's protected 
activity. The Department agrees with the commenter and modifies the 
example in the Appendix A of the final Guidance to clarify this point.
vii. Pattern or Practice of Discrimination or Systemic Discrimination
    The Proposed Guidance stated that violations involving a "pattern 
or practice of discrimination or systemic discrimination" are serious. 
Specifically, the Proposed Guidance defined a pattern or practice of 
discrimination as involving "intentional discrimination against a 
protected group of employees, rather than discrimination that occurs in 
an isolated fashion." 80 FR 30585. Systemic discrimination involves 
"a pattern or practice, policy, or class case where the discrimination 
has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company or geographic 
area." Id. Systemic discrimination also includes "policies and 
practices that are seemingly neutral but may cause a disparate impact 
on protected groups." Id.
    Several employee-advocacy commenters argued that the Guidance 
should explicitly state that systemic discrimination is not limited to 
class actions or government agency enforcement, so that individual or 
multi-plaintiff lawsuits challenging a widely-applicable practice or 
rule should fall within the definition of serious. Because the 
definition in the Proposed Guidance singled out "class cases," these 
commenters believed that one could infer that the Guidance excludes 
individual or multi-plaintiff non-class action cases in which the Labor 
Law decision includes a finding that systemic discrimination occurred. 
The Department agrees that systemic discrimination is not limited to 
litigation brought in a class action, and has clarified this point in 
the final Guidance.
    Several of these commenters also advocated that this criterion for 
serious violations should not be limited to "systemic 
discrimination," but instead should include all "systemic labor law" 
violations. Commenters cited the misclassification of employees as 
independent contractors and the failure to provide adequate safety 
equipment to an entire workforce as systemic violations involving 
company-wide policies that should be deemed serious.
    The Department declines to expand the definition of systemic 
discrimination. The term "systemic discrimination" has a well-
established meaning under anti-discrimination laws, and the Department 
intended to restrict this criterion to such violations. Moreover, the 
Department expects that many widespread violations unrelated to 
discrimination will likely be classified as serious under other 
criteria in the Guidance.
    Finally, one industry commenter criticized the systemic 
discrimination criterion, asserting that it was too broad because 
virtually all of OFCCP's discrimination allegations are "pattern or 
practice" or systemic allegations. The Department disagrees. While 
OFCCP does focus on this category of discrimination, only a small 
fraction of OFCCP's show-cause notices include a finding that systemic 
discrimination has occurred. Additionally, as noted earlier, OFCCP 
issues fewer than 200 show-cause notices per year; thus, the overall 
number of OFCCP cases implicated by this criterion is not large. In the 
Department's view, systemic or pattern-or-practice discrimination 
remains an appropriate criterion for determining whether a violation is 
serious.
    While the Department has not made any substantive changes to the 
definitions for this criterion, the Department has added a list of the 
Labor Laws to which this criterion will generally apply, as well as a 
reference to a leading Supreme Court case defining "pattern or 
practice," International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, 
431 U.S. 324, 336 (1977).
viii. Interference With Investigations
    The Proposed Guidance stated that a Labor Law violation is serious 
if the Labor Law decision's findings support a conclusion that the 
contractor interfered with an enforcement agency's investigation. The 
Proposed Guidance also listed several examples of interference.
    Several industry commenters voiced concern about this category. 
Specifically, these commenters argued that this category could penalize 
contractors for raising good-faith challenges to the scope of an 
agency's investigation. For example, commenters stated that a 
contractor may refuse to provide documents to an agency because it 
takes the position that the agency's request is overbroad. Some of 
these commenters argued that the contractor has a right to challenge 
the scope of a subpoena, document request, or request for information, 
and that the assertion of such rights should not be construed as 
interference--regardless of whether a court ultimately decides in favor 
of the contractor. One commenter suggested that such disputes should be 
distinguished from more serious obstruction such as threatening workers 
who speak to enforcement agency investigators, falsifying or destroying 
records, or making misrepresentations to investigators.
    After careful consideration of the comments received, the 
Department is retaining this criterion for serious violations in the 
final Guidance but is limiting its scope. The Department views 
interference with investigations as serious because such behavior 
severely hinders enforcement agencies' ability to conduct 
investigations and correct violations of law. The Department also 
recognizes, however, that employers may have good-faith disputes with 
agencies about the scope or propriety of a request for documents or 
access to the worksite.
    Accordingly, the Department has narrowed the "interference" 
criterion such that interference is defined to include only the 
following circumstances:
    (1) A civil judgment was issued holding the contractor in contempt 
for failing to provide information or physical access to an enforcement 
agency in the course of an investigation; or
    (2) It is readily ascertainable from the Labor Law decision that 
the contractor--
    (a) Falsified, knowingly made a false statement in, or destroyed 
records to frustrate an investigation under the Labor Laws;
    (b) Knowingly made false representations to an investigator; or
    (c) Took or threatened to take adverse actions against workers (for 
example, termination, reduction in salary or benefits, or referral to 
immigration or criminal authorities) for cooperating with or speaking 
to government investigators or for otherwise complying with an agency's 
investigation (for example, threatening workers if they do not return 
back wages received as the result of an investigation).
    This revision aims to capture two primary categories, both of which 
the Department considers serious: First, instances in which a court not 
only concludes that the employer unlawfully withheld documents or 
access from an agency, but holds the employer in contempt for doing so; 
and second, instances in which an employer takes affirmative steps to 
frustrate an investigation.
ix. Material Breaches and Violations of Settlements, Labor Compliance 
Agreements, or Orders (Formerly "Material Breaches and Violations of 
Settlements, Agreements, or Orders")
    The Proposed Guidance stated that a violation is serious if it 
involves a breach of the material terms of any agreement or settlement, 
or a violation of a court or administrative order or arbitral award. 
One commenter expressed concern regarding this criterion, stating that 
the Guidance did not clearly explain how to determine that a settlement 
agreement had been materially breached.
    The Department retains this criterion for serious violations in the 
Guidance, with a clarification. The concept of material breach is well-
established in law. See, e.g., Frank Felix Associates, Ltd. v. Austin 
Drugs, Inc., 111 F.3d 284, 289 (2d Cir. 1997) (stating that a material 
breach, under New York law, is one that "go[es] to the root of the 
agreement between the parties"). The Department believes that in most 
cases, the existence of a material breach will be clear. For example, 
if an employer agrees in a settlement to classify certain types of 
workers as employees, but continues to classify them as independent 
contractors, this will constitute a material breach. The intent of this 
provision is not to capture technical or questionable breaches; rather, 
it is to capture those cases in which an employer agrees, as part of a 
settlement, to take certain steps to remedy Labor Law violations but 
then fails to do so. The Department also clarifies the relevant 
"agreements" whose material breach will constitute a serious 
violation. The term "agreements" includes settlements and labor 
compliance agreements.
c. Table of Examples
    The Department has updated the table of examples to reflect the 
changes in the final Guidance.
d. Other Comments on Serious Violations
    The National Women's Law Center suggested that the Guidance should 
include a separate subcategory of serious violations that captures 
"the scope and severity of harm caused by a violation," such as 
violations that implicate more than one right under the Labor Laws, 
severe monetary losses, or other types of severe losses.
    The Department agrees that the Guidance should capture the scope 
and severity of harm caused by a violation, but does not believe it is 
necessary to create an additional criterion or separate subcategory of 
serious violations. The existing criteria for serious violations 
generally seek to capture the scope and severity of harm, by focusing 
on, for example, the degree of monetary harm, the number of affected 
workers, and the extent to which a violation risked or caused death or 
serious injury. In addition, scope and severity of harm are taken into 
consideration during the process by which ALCAs weigh a contractor's 
overall record of Labor Law compliance. As discussed below, in 
analyzing a contractor's record during the weighing process, an ALCA 
does not need to give equal weight to two violations that receive the 
same classification. Some violations may have more significant 
consequences on a contractor's workforce than others, and therefore 
will be given more weight during the determination of whether a 
contractor has a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance. See 
Guidance, section III (B).
    Several industry commenters expressed concern that a contractor 
could be found to have committed a serious violation based on a novel 
legal theory asserted by an agency or upheld for the first time by a 
court. These commenters cited, for example, recent NLRB complaints 
challenging employee handbooks and corporate social media policies and 
EEOC reasonable cause determinations challenging employer background 
check policies.
    The Department declines to adopt a per se rule under which 
violations based on a novel legal theory would not be deemed serious. 
Many cases call for the application of established legal rules to new 
circumstances, and the fact that no identical violation has been 
previously prosecuted is not relevant to the measure of the violation's 
effect on the contractor's workers. If a contractor believes that a 
violation should carry less weight because it was based on a novel 
legal theory, the contractor should make such arguments when submitting 
mitigating information about the violation. The Guidance provides that 
a recent legal or regulatory change may be a factor weighing in favor 
of a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance. This may be the case 
where "prior agency or court decisions suggested that a practice was 
lawful, but the Labor Law decision finds otherwise." Guidance, section 
III (B)(1)(e).
    One labor union commenter urged that an NLRA "hallmark violation" 
should be treated as a serious violation, and that more than one 
hallmark violation should be considered pervasive. Hallmark violations 
include certain violations that are particularly coercive, including 
"threats of plant closure or loss of employment, discharge or other 
serious adverse action against union adherents, and grants of 
significant benefits to employees." Regency Manor Nursing Home, 275 
NLRB 1261, 1262 (N.L.R.B. 1985).
    The Department declines to modify the definitions of serious and 
pervasive violations to include a new criterion of NLRA hallmark 
violations. Unlike, for example, OSHA, which clearly designates 
citations as "serious" on the face of the citation, the General 
Counsel of the NLRB does not characterize violations as "hallmark" in 
a complaint. Thus, the ALCA would have to make a determination 
regarding whether a violation is a hallmark one, and the Department 
does not envision ALCAs having such a role. Nevertheless, the 
Department notes that many hallmark violations would likely be 
considered serious under one of the existing criteria, such as the 
criteria on retaliation and violations that affect at least 10 workers 
comprising 25 percent of a contractor's workforce.
    Similarly, another labor union commenter suggested that the 
Guidance add a criterion addressing corporate policies that 
significantly chill employees' rights to speak out, organize, or file 
complaints. The commenter specifically suggested that multiple policies 
aimed at silencing workers should be considered serious. The Department 
declines to adopt this suggestion. When a contractor is found to have 
maintained such an unlawful, corporate policy governing employee 
conduct, such a policy will likely affect at least 25 percent of the 
employer's workforce and will be classified as serious on that basis. 
As noted above, the criterion setting out the 25 percent threshold is 
meant to capture violations to the extent that they affect a 
sufficient number of employees. Accordingly, the Department 
believes that an additional category of serious violations that 
captures only certain types of corporate policies is unnecessary.
2. Repeated Violations
    The Order provides that the standard for repeated violations should 
"incorporate existing statutory standards" to the extent such 
standards exist. Order, section 4(b)(i)(A). The Order further provides 
that, where no statutory standards exist, the standards for repeated 
should take into account "whether the entity has had one or more 
additional violations of the same or a substantially similar 
requirement in the past 3 years." Id. section 4(b)(i)(B)(2). None of 
the Labor Laws contains an explicit statutory definition of the term 
"repeated." Accordingly, the Proposed Guidance defined "repeated" 
violations using the "substantially similar" language suggested by 
the Order. See 80 FR 30587.
    The final Guidance generally maintains the Proposed Guidance's 
definition of "repeated" violations, with some modifications. First, 
where the Proposed Guidance included a general definition followed by a 
list of examples, the final Guidance instead sets forth a statute-
specific, exhaustive list of repeated violations. This list closely 
parallels the examples that were presented in the Proposed Guidance, 
with the exception of some changes explained below.
    The Department has made several nonsubstantive changes to the 
definition for clarity. The Guidance now uniformly refers to the 
initial violations that form the basis for a repeated violation as 
"prior" violations, instead of "predicate" violations. Where 
discussing the relationship between the prior violation and the 
repeated violation itself, the Guidance refers to the latter as the 
"subsequent violation." The Guidance also now refers to the relevant 
3-year period for determining if a violation is repeated as the "3-
year look-back period." The Department also has changed the order of 
and retitled some of the subsections within the definition, and has 
created a separate sub-heading for "citation OSHA violations." 
Finally, the Department has made a few additional changes to the 
definition in response to comments, as discussed below.
a. OSH Act and OSHA-Approved State Plan Violations Enforced Through 
Citations or Equivalent State Documents
    The Proposed Guidance stated that "[f]or violations of the OSH 
Act, violations are repeated if they involve the same or a 
substantially similar hazard." 80 FR 30574, 30588.
    Employee-advocacy commenters as well as an industry commenter 
submitted comments on this criterion. These commenters stated that this 
definition seemed to classify some violations as repeated for the 
purposes of the Order that would not be considered "repeat" under the 
OSH Act. The reason is that the enforcement scheme of the OSH Act 
includes both OSHA and the OSHA-approved State Plans. Under that 
scheme, violations of State Plans are not considered by Federal OSHA 
when classifying a Federal violation as "repeat." Similarly, State 
Plan agencies typically do not cite an employer for a repeat violation 
if the prior violation occurred outside the State's jurisdiction.
    The employee advocates supported application of the "substantially 
similar" standard as proposed in the Guidance, regardless of the 
variance from the OSH Act. The industry commenter argued that ALCAs and 
contracting officers would not have the expertise to determine that two 
violations were substantially similar if the relevant enforcement 
agency did not originally designate them as such.
    After carefully considering all of the comments received, the 
Department has decided to modify the Guidance criterion for repeated 
violations under the OSH Act and OSHA-approved State Plans. It was not 
the Department's intention to expand the scope of repeated violations 
beyond those already deemed "repeat" under the OSH Act and OSHA State 
Plans. Rather, the Department's reference in the Proposed Guidance to 
violations that involve the same or a substantially similar hazard was 
solely intended to incorporate the Federal OSH Act's standard for 
repeated violations. See Potlatch Corp., 7 O.S.H. Cas. (BNA) 1061, 1063 
(O.S.H.R.C. 1979). Therefore, the Guidance now states that an OSH Act 
or OSHA-approved State Plan violation that was enforced through a 
citation or equivalent State document (a "citation OSHA violation") 
will only be "repeated" under the Order if OSHA or the relevant State 
Plan agency originally designated the citation as repeated, repeat, or 
any similar State designation.
    While modifying the OSHA definition in this way, the Department 
retains the 3-year timeframe limitation discussed in the Proposed 
Guidance. In making "repeated" designations, OSHA's current policy is 
to consider whether the employer has violated a substantially similar 
requirement any time within the previous 5 years. The Order, however, 
indicates that a 3-year look-back period is appropriate. Accordingly, 
when a contractor discloses a decision involving an OSH Act 
"repeated" violation, the ALCA will need to review the decision to 
determine whether the prior violation occurred in the previous 3 years. 
This means that the prior violation must have become a final order of 
the OSHRC or equivalent State agency within the previous 3 years. In 
sum, only those citations that have been designated as repeated and 
where the prior violation occurred in the 3 years preceding the second 
citation should be classified as repeated under the Order.
    The final Guidance also deletes a statement from the Proposed 
Guidance that violations of MSPA and the OSH Act may be substantially 
similar if they involve substantially similar hazards. Upon further 
consideration, the Department believes that such an approach is not 
easily administrable.
    For non-citation OSHA violations, neither OSHA nor State Plan 
agencies make "repeated" designations. Accordingly, the Guidance 
clarifies that ALCAs will classify non-citation violations as repeated 
using the same general criteria that apply to all other violations. See 
Guidance, section III(A)(2)(b).
b. All Other Violations
    Under the final Guidance, for all Labor Law violations other than 
citation OSHA violations, a violation is "repeated" if it is

the same as or substantially similar to a prior violation of the 
Labor Laws that was the subject of a separate investigation or 
proceeding arising from a separate set of facts, and became 
uncontested or adjudicated within the previous 3 years.

    Guidance, section III(A)(2). Comments related to this definition 
are discussed below.
i. Prior Violation Must Have Been Uncontested or Adjudicated (Formerly 
"Type of Violations")
    The Proposed Guidance stated that the prior violation that forms 
the basis for a repeated violation must be a civil judgment, arbitral 
award or decision, or adjudicated or uncontested administrative merits 
determination. Under the Proposed Guidance, this restriction did not 
apply to the subsequent violation. In other words, the violation 
classified as repeated did not itself need to be adjudicated.
    Several employer groups challenged this distinction. Most of these 
commenters argued that the definition should require both the prior and 
subsequent violations to have been adjudicated for the subsequent one 
to be classified as repeated. One commenter asserted that limiting the 
prior violation to adjudicated or uncontested administrative merits 
determinations implicitly recognizes that unadjudicated determinations 
are inherently suspect. Many of these comments echoed those made by 
employer groups regarding the required disclosure of nonfinal 
administrative merits determinations, in which these groups suggested 
that only final agency decisions should have to be disclosed under the 
Order.
    In the final Guidance, the Department generally retains the 
proposed framework, though with some modifications discussed below. The 
purpose of classifying a violation as repeated is to identify those 
employers who fail to modify their conduct after having committed a 
previous substantially similar violation. Employers who have repeatedly 
violated the law are more likely than other contractors to commit 
future similar Labor Law violations during performance of a Federal 
contract. Because an ALCA will give a repeated violation additional 
scrutiny, it is appropriate to create more limited parameters for the 
prior violation by requiring it to have been uncontested or 
adjudicated. As the Guidance notes, this framework is intended to 
ensure that violations will only be classified as repeated when the 
contractor has had the opportunity--even if not exercised--to present 
facts or arguments in its defense before an administrative adjudicative 
authority concerning the prior violation.
    Moreover, the Department chose to require the prior violation to be 
uncontested or adjudicated because this formulation is similar to the 
one used to designate repeated violations under the OSH Act. In 
enforcing the OSH Act, OSHA requires a prior substantially similar 
violation to have become a final order of the OSHRC before the 
occurrence of the subsequent violation. The subsequent violation 
itself, however, need not be a final order of the OSHRC. The Department 
has chosen to model the definition of "repeated" under the Order 
after the OSH Act practice.
    While the Department declines to change basic underlying framework, 
the final Guidance contains a few minor changes in response to the 
comments received and for clarity.
    First, for clarity, the final Guidance explains that any Labor Law 
decision--not just administrative merits determinations--must be 
uncontested or adjudicated to be a prior violation. Since civil 
judgments and arbitral awards or decisions are inherently adjudicated 
proceedings, this change is nonsubstantive; but it is made to emphasize 
that the same basic standard applies to all Labor Law decisions.
    Second, in response to concerns of employer commenters, the final 
Guidance narrows the definitions of "uncontested" and 
"adjudicated," as follows:
    An "uncontested" violation is now defined as a violation that is 
reflected in:
    (1) A Labor Law decision that the employer has not contested or 
challenged within the time limit provided in the Labor Law decision or 
otherwise required by law; or
    (2) A Labor Law decision following which the employer agrees to at 
least some of the relief sought by the agency in its enforcement 
action.
    These changes are made to ensure that a violation will not be 
considered uncontested unless it is resolved or any applicable time 
period to contest it has expired. Under the Proposed Guidance's 
definition, an administrative merits determination would have been 
considered uncontested unless a timely appeal of the determination was 
filed or pending. This definition, however, did not account for cases 
in which a contractor may intend to dispute an agency's determination, 
but the burden is on the agency to initiate litigation in order to 
continue enforcement, such as in the case of EEOC reasonable cause 
determinations or FLSA enforcement proceedings brought by WHD. Under 
the revised definition, such violations will not be considered 
uncontested.
    An "adjudicated" violation is now defined as a violation that is 
reflected in:
    (1) A civil judgment,
    (2) an arbitral award or decision, or
    (3) an administrative merits determination that constitutes a final 
agency order by an administrative adjudicative authority following a 
proceeding in which the contractor had an opportunity to present 
evidence or arguments on its behalf.
    The Guidance explains that "administrative adjudicative 
authority," as used in (3) above, means an administrative body 
empowered to hear adversary proceedings, such as the ARB, the OSHRC, or 
the NLRB. ALJs are also administrative adjudicative authorities; 
however, their decisions will only constitute adjudicated violations if 
they are adopted as final agency orders. The Guidance notes that this 
typically will occur, for example, if the party subject to an adverse 
decision by an ALJ does not file a timely appeal to the agency's 
administrative appellate body, such as those referenced above. Thus, if 
an administrative merits determination is subject to multiple levels of 
appellate review, such as proceedings before the Department that go 
before an ALJ and then the ARB, only a decision following the final 
level of appellate review constitutes an adjudicated administrative 
merits determination.
    Finally, the Department also modifies the Guidance to clarify that 
the prior violation must be uncontested or adjudicated before the date 
of the Labor Law decision for the subsequent violation in order for the 
subsequent violation to be classified as repeated. The Guidance 
includes an example illustrating this point.
ii. 3-Year Look-Back Period (Formerly "Timeframe")
    The Proposed Guidance stated that the prior violation for a 
repeated violation must have occurred within the 3-year "reporting 
period."
    As an initial matter, the Department has recognized that this 
characterization did not accurately describe the 3-year timeframe for 
considering whether a violation is repeated. The 3-year "reporting 
period" (which the Guidance now refers to as the "3-year disclosure 
period") is relevant to the Order's basic requirement of which Labor 
Law decisions a contractor must disclose at all--not to the 
determination of whether a violation was repeated. This disclosure time 
period extends back from the date of the contractor's offer. The 
Department, however, interprets section 4(b)(i)(B)(2) of the Order, 
which directs the Department to consider "whether the entity has had 
one or more additional violations of the same or a substantially 
similar requirement in the past 3 years," to refer to a distinct look-
back period for identifying repeated violations--wherein the prior 
violation must have occurred no earlier than 3 years prior to the date 
of the subsequent violation (not the date of the offer). The Department 
has included language clarifying this distinction in the Guidance.\63\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \63\ Along the same lines, the Department notes that although, 
as noted above, there will be a phase-in of the 3-year disclosure 
period, there is no such phase-in for the 3-year look-back period 
for classification of repeated violations. Thus, an ALCA may find 
that violation was repeated based on the occurrence of a prior 
violation even if the Labor Law decision related to the prior 
violation was not disclosed by the contractor but was instead 
identified by the ALCA using government enforcement databases.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some employee-advocacy groups argued that a 3-year look-back period 
is too short. Two of these groups argued that the look-back period 
should be expanded beyond 3 years, stating that because agency 
investigations and related litigation often take months or even years, 
it will be difficult to identify patterns of repeated violations within 
only a 3-year window. These commenters suggested that in the preaward 
phase, the contractor should be asked if it committed any similar 
violations during the previous 5 years, and in the postaward phase, the 
look-back period should be expanded to include all years in which the 
contractor held contracts.
    The Department declines to modify the Guidance in response to these 
suggestions. The 3-year look-back period is explicitly set forth in the 
Order and reflects the intention of the President that only violations 
during this time period will be considered in determining whether 
violations are repeated. See Order, section 4(b)(i)(B)(2). A 5-year 
period would be inconsistent with the Order.
    In contrast, one industry commenter suggested that the 3-year look-
back period is too long, and would result in the consideration of a 
contractor's conduct that may have occurred long before the beginning 
of the look-back period. Even if the prior violation itself occurred 
within the 3-year look-back period, argued the commenter, the 
underlying conduct that led to that prior determination could have 
taken place much earlier, especially if the prior violation has a long 
litigation history.
    As noted earlier in the discussion of disclosure requirements, the 
Department recognizes that there will be Labor Law decisions that must 
be disclosed under the Order where the underlying conduct occurred 
outside the 3-year disclosure period. This is unavoidable in a system 
under which violations need not be disclosed until there is an 
administrative merits determination, civil judgment, or arbitral award 
or decision. The same is true for the separate 3-year look-back period 
for repeated violations.
    However, the Department understands the commenter's concern that, 
under the Proposed Guidance, a violation that is the subject of lengthy 
litigation could create a later repeated violation that the Order 
clearly did not intend to classify as such. For example, OFCCP could 
issue a show cause notice to a contractor on January 1, 2017. The 
contractor could contest the violation, resulting in an ALJ 
determination on January 1, 2018, an ARB determination on January 1, 
2019, a civil judgment by a district court on January 1, 2020, and a 
civil judgment by a court of appeals on January 1, 2021. If the 
contractor commits a substantially similar violation on December 31, 
2023, it would be less than 3 years after the court of appeals 
decision. But it would be 6 years after the initial OFCCP show cause 
notice was rendered--far outside the 3-year look-back period. The 
Department agrees that it would be contrary to the spirit of the Order 
to use the 2021 date to determine whether the conduct in 2023 is 
"repeated."
    To address this issue, the Department has modified the Guidance in 
the following manner: The final Guidance explains that for a violation 
to be classified as repeated, the prior violation must have become 
uncontested or adjudicated (in other words, first become adjudicated) 
no more than 3 years prior to the date of the repeated violation (that 
is, the violation that is classified as repeated).
    The final Guidance explains that the violation becomes uncontested 
either on the date on which any time period to contest the violation 
has expired, or on the date of the employer's agreement to at least 
some of the relief sought by the agency in its enforcement action 
(e.g., the date a settlement agreement is signed). A prior violation 
becomes adjudicated on the date on which the violation first becomes an 
adjudicated violation. This means that the violation becomes 
adjudicated on the date when the violation first becomes a civil 
judgment, arbitral award or decision, or a final agency order by an 
administrative adjudicative authority following a proceeding in which 
the contractor had an opportunity to present evidence or arguments on 
its behalf.
    Thus, for a violation that is the subject of successive 
adjudications such as in the above example, the dates of subsequent 
decisions after the first adjudication are not relevant. Accordingly, 
in the above example--which is reproduced in the final Guidance--the 
relevant date of the prior violation is January 1, 2019, the date of 
the ARB order, because this is the date on which the violation becomes 
a final agency order by the ARB, and therefore first becomes an 
adjudicated violation. It could serve as a prior violation only for a 
substantially similar violation decision that is issued after January 
1, 2019 and prior to January 1, 2022.\64\ The dates of the subsequent 
Federal court decisions are not relevant.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \64\ This modification of the guidance on repeated violations 
does not, however, affect the contractor's disclosure requirements. 
The disclosure requirements for violations that involve successive 
Labor Law decisions are discussed in section II(B)(4) of the 
Guidance and the preamble section-by-section analysis.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

iii. Separate Investigations or Proceedings
    The Proposed Guidance also stated that "[t]he prior violation(s) 
must be the subject of one or more separate investigations or 
proceedings." 80 FR 30587. One industry commenter expressed concern 
that this requirement could be applied inconsistently in cases where 
multiple agencies (e.g., OSHA and WHD) investigate an employer. The 
commenter suggested that if both agencies conduct a joint 
investigation, then no violations would be repeated, but if the 
agencies conduct separate investigations, some of the violations could 
be repeated.
    The Department agrees that the language in the Proposed Guidance 
was ambiguous and modifies the Guidance to address this issue. The 
final Guidance clarifies that for violation to be classified as 
repeated, it must be based upon a separate set of facts from those 
underlying the prior violation. Although the Department does not 
foresee a scenario along the lines of the one envisioned by the 
commenter (in part because violations investigated by different 
agencies are less likely to be substantially similar), the new language 
clarifies that this scenario would not give rise to a repeated 
violation.
iv. Violation Committed by the Contractor (Formerly "Company-Wide 
Consideration")
    Under the Proposed Guidance, the determination of a repeated 
violation takes a company-wide approach; that is, a prior violation by 
any establishment of a multi-establishment company can render 
subsequent violations repeated, provided the other relevant criteria 
are satisfied. Several labor unions and employee-advocacy groups 
expressed strong support for this approach. One employer association 
expressed opposition to this approach, arguing that large companies 
often have disparate components that are managed independently. 
Finally, three commenters suggested that the Department clarify the 
scope of "company-wide" and "establishment."
    The Department retains this provision in the Guidance and clarifies 
that "company-wide" includes any violations committed by the same legal 
entity. By using the term "establishment" in the phrase "multi-establishment 
company," the Guidance simply means a physical location where the contractor 
operates, such as an office, factory, or construction worksite. Thus, 
for the purposes of determining whether a violation is repeated, prior 
violations that occurred at different physical locations will be 
considered as long as they were committed by the same legal entity.
    This approach is consistent with the Order, which uses the term 
"entity" in its requirement that the Department's definition to take 
into account "whether the entity has had one or more additional 
violations of the same or a substantially similar requirement in the 
past 3 years." Order, section 4(b)(i)(B)(2). This is also consistent 
with the manner in which the Federal agencies administering the two 
statutory regimes that currently assess "repeated" violations--the 
FLSA and the OSH Act--evaluate repeated violations. In short, this 
principle simply affirms that all violations by a contractor will be 
considered in assessing whether the contractor committed repeated 
violations.
v. Substantially Similar Violations
    The Proposed Guidance provided a definition for how to determine 
whether violations are "substantially similar" for the purposes of 
classifying a later violation as "repeated." The Proposed Guidance 
included a general principle and illustrative examples. It stated that 
substantially similar does not mean "exactly the same"; rather, two 
things may be substantially similar where they share "essential 
elements in common." 80 FR 30574, 30587 (internal citation omitted). 
It further noted that "[w]hether a violation is 'substantially 
similar' to a past violation turns on the nature of the violation and 
underlying obligation itself." Id. The Proposed Guidance then provided 
examples of how this general principle applies in the context of the 
various Labor Laws. The Department specifically sought comment 
regarding this definition.
General Comments
    Several labor unions and other employee advocacy groups expressed 
general support for the way that the Proposed Guidance addressed 
substantially similar violations. In contrast, employer groups and 
advocates argued that the Department's proposed guidance on these 
violations was too broad or too vague, particularly in the context of 
those Labor Laws that concern equal employment opportunity and 
nondiscrimination. One commenter representing industry interests argued 
that repeated violations should be limited to the same type of 
violation of the same statute.
    In response to concerns that the guidance on the meaning of 
"substantially similar" was insufficiently clear, the final Guidance, 
rather than proceeding by way of a general definition and statute-
specific examples, sets forth a statute-specific, exhaustive list of 
violations that are substantially similar to each other, similar to the 
Department's statute-specific guidance on serious and willful 
violations. This list largely tracks the examples that were presented 
in the Proposed Guidance, but some changes have been made, as noted 
below. The Department believes that this approach will increase clarity 
and lessen ambiguity regarding the classification of repeated 
violations.
    Under the final Guidance, as in the Proposed Guidance, certain 
violations may be substantially similar to each other even though they 
arise under different statutes. While the Department recognizes that 
there may be violations that will be "repeated" under the Guidance 
that are different in character or degree, such violations will often 
point to underlying compliance practices in a company that the Order 
seeks to eliminate from the performance of Federal contracts. An overly 
narrow definition will fail to capture many violations that could help 
identify such practices. While any definition of "substantially 
similar" would likely draw criticism for both over-inclusiveness and 
under-inclusiveness, the Department believes that the definitions in 
the final Guidance strike the appropriate balance. The Department also 
believes that these definitions are sufficiently clear for ALCAs to be 
able to apply them.
    The Department did not receive specific comments on the definitions 
of "substantially similar" for violations of the FLSA, DBA, SCA, 
Executive Order 13658, and MSPA, or on its proposal to treat as 
substantially similar any two violations involving retaliation, any two 
recordkeeping violations, or any two failures to post required notices. 
The Department did receive comments on the definitions of 
"substantially similar" for other Labor Laws, as discussed below.
Family and Medical Leave Act
    One advocacy organization commenter addressed the treatment of 
repeated violations of the FMLA. The individual notice provisions of 
the FMLA require that when an employee requests leave for a qualifying 
reason, the employer must notify the employee of certain rights and 
other information. The commenter argued that violations of this notice 
provision should be treated as substantially similar to other FMLA 
violations, such as interference and discrimination, because the FMLA's 
individual notice provisions relate to a specific leave request and an 
individual's ability to exercise his or her FMLA rights.
    The Department declines to change this aspect of the definition of 
repeated violations. The general notice and individual notice 
requirements are both included in the same provision of the FMLA 
regulations. 29 CFR 825.300. This provision is separate from the 
regulatory provisions governing interference and discrimination. While 
the Department agrees that a violation of individual notice 
requirements could potentially be tied to, or result in, interference 
and discrimination, this is also true for violations of the general 
notice provisions. The Department believes that notice requirements are 
sufficiently different from an employer's actual failure to provide 
leave or other benefits that they should not be considered 
substantially similar to those violations in the context of repeated 
violations.
National Labor Relations Act
    The Proposed Guidance stated, by way of example, that any two 
violations of section 8(a)(3) of the NLRA would be substantially 
similar to each other, but would not be substantially similar to 
violations of section 8(a)(2). The Department did not provide further 
guidance on the circumstances under which other NLRA violations would 
be substantially similar. Consistent with the Department's decision to 
set forth statute-specific definitions rather than examples, the final 
Guidance states that any two violations of the same numbered subsection 
of section 8(a) of the NLRA, which lists unfair labor practices by 
employers, will be substantially similar. The Department also notes 
that any two violations of the NLRA (or any of the Labor Laws) that 
involve retaliation are substantially similar.
    One labor organization commenter argued that the amendment of an 
NLRB complaint should constitute a separate administrative merits 
determination for the purpose of determining whether an employer has 
committed a repeated violation. The commenter noted that sometimes the 
NLRB will amend a complaint rather than issuing a new one where an 
employer has committed violations relating to an ongoing labor dispute 
over a long period of time.
    The final Guidance does not incorporate this suggestion. First, a 
pending and contested NLRB complaint cannot serve as a prior violation 
for the purposes of a repeated violation determination. As discussed 
above, only an uncontested or adjudicated Labor Law decision can 
constitute a prior violation. After adjudication or settlement of an 
NLRB complaint, the complaint typically would not be amended. 
Additionally, because complaints can be amended for numerous reasons 
other than those identified by the commenter, the Department believes 
that it would be impractical to require ALCAs to examine complaints in 
order to determine when and why they were amended. As such, a single 
NLRB complaint, regardless of whether it is amended, will constitute a 
single administrative merits determination.
    The same commenter also recommended that the Department treat 
violations of section 8(a)(1), which prohibits employers from 
interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of 
the rights guaranteed in section 7 of the NLRA, as substantially 
similar to violations of section 8(a)(3), which generally prohibits 
employers from discriminating in regard to hire or tenure of 
employment, or any term or condition of employment, to encourage or 
discourage membership in a labor organization, for the purposes of 
determining whether a violation was repeated. The Department declines 
to adopt this suggestion, as it believes that it is overbroad in scope 
and could result in dissimilar violations being classified as repeated.
Anti-Discrimination Labor Laws \65\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \65\ The term "anti-discrimination Labor Laws" refers to Title 
VII, section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the ADA, the 
ADEA, section 6(d) of the FLSA (known as the Equal Pay Act, 29 
U.S.C. 206(d)), Executive Order 11246 of September 24, 1965, the 
Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972, and the 
Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some employer-group commenters expressed concern about the 
application of the definition to the anti-discrimination laws. Under 
the Proposed Guidance, such violations would be substantially similar 
if they involved the same or an overlapping protected status, even if 
they did not involve the same employment practice. One noted that, for 
example, under the definition in the Guidance, if a company employed a 
hiring test resulting in a disparate impact on women, and within 3 
years, an individual manager in a different department engaged in 
sexual harassment, the company would be found to have committed 
repeated violations.
    In response to these comments, the Department has made 
modifications to narrow the definition of repeated violations in the 
discrimination context. For purposes of the anti-discrimination Labor 
Laws, violations are substantially similar if they involve (1) the same 
protected status, and (2) at least one of the following elements in 
common: (a) The same employment practice, or (b) the same worksite. In 
nonsubstantive changes, the Department has removed the reference to 
"overlapping" protected statuses and the list of examples of 
protected statuses, but has clarified that violations are considered to 
involve the same protected status as long as the same status is present 
in both violations, even if other protected statuses may be involved as 
well. For the purpose of determining whether violations involve the 
same worksite, the same definition of "worksite" that was used in the 
discussion of the 25 percent criterion for a serious violation applies, 
except that any two or more company-wide violations are considered to 
involve the same worksite. The Department believes that this narrower 
definition will better capture violations that are substantially 
similar to each other.
    Also, a number of employee advocates argued in their comments that 
discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, sexual 
orientation, and pregnancy should be considered to be "the same or 
overlapping" protected statuses for the purpose of determining whether 
a violation was repeated. These commenters asserted that discrimination 
on the basis of these characteristics typically arises out of gender-
based stereotypes and that it would be appropriate to treat such 
violations as substantially similar for purposes of the Order.
    The Department has incorporated this suggestion in part. The 
treatment of discrimination on the basis of pregnancy as a type of sex 
discrimination is consistent with Title VII as amended by the Pregnancy 
Discrimination Act. See 42 U.S.C. 2000e(k). Additionally, the treatment 
of discrimination on the basis of gender identity (including 
transgender status) as a type of sex discrimination is consistent with 
the views of the EEOC, the Department, the Department of Justice, and 
two Federal courts of appeals.\66\ With regard to discrimination on the 
basis of sexual orientation, some courts have recognized in the wake of 
Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins \67\ that discrimination "because of sex" 
includes discrimination based on sex stereotypes about sexual 
attraction and sexual behavior \68\ or about deviations from 
"heterosexually defined gender norms." \69\ In addition, the EEOC has 
concluded that Title VII's prohibition of discrimination "because of 
sex" includes sexual orientation discrimination because discrimination 
on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily involves sex-based 
considerations.\70\ The Department has taken the position that 
discrimination on the basis of sex includes, at a minimum, sex 
discrimination related to an individual's sexual orientation where the 
evidence establishes that the discrimination is based on gender 
stereotypes.\71\ Consistent with recent regulatory activity,\72\ the 
Department will continue to monitor the developing law on sexual 
orientation discrimination as sex discrimination under Title VII and 
will interpret E.O. 11246's prohibition of sex discrimination in 
conformity with Title VII principles.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \66\ See Macy v. Holder, Appeal No. 0120120821, 2012 WL 1435995 
(EEOC 2012), Dep't of Labor, Ofc. of Fed. Contract Compliance 
Programs, Final Rule, Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, 81 FR 
39108, 39118-19 (June 15, 2016) ("OFCCP Sex Discrimination Final 
Rule"); Memorandum from Attorney General Eric Holder to United 
States Attorneys and Heads of Department Components (Dec. 15, 2014), 
https://www.justice.gov/file/188671/download; Glenn v. Brumby, 663 
F.3d 1312 (11th Cir. 2011); Smith v. City of Salem, 378 F.3d 566, 
575 (6th Cir. 2004).
    \67\ 490 U.S. 228 (1989).
    \68\ See Videckis v. Pepperdine Univ., No. CV 15-00298, 2015 WL 
8916764, at *5 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 15, 2015).
    \69\ Isaacs v. Felder Servs., No. 2:13cv693-MHT, 2015 WL 
6560655, at *4 (M.D. Ala. Oct. 29, 2015) (internal quotation 
omitted).
    \70\ Baldwin v. Dep't of Transp., Appeal No. 0120133080, 2015 WL 
4397641, at *5 (EEOC 2015). For a more comprehensive discussion on 
the state of the law on these issues, please see the OFCCP Sex 
Discrimination Final Rule cited above; see also Dep't of Labor, Ofc. 
of the Sec'y, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Implementation of the 
Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Provisions of the Workforce 
Innovation and Opportunity Act, 81 FR 4494, 4507 (Jan. 26, 2016) 
("CRC WIOA NPRM").
    \71\ OFCCP Sex Discrimination Final Rule, 81 FR at 39118; CRC 
WIOA NRPM, 81 FR at 4508-09.
    \72\ See id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In recognition of Title VII's explicit incorporation of pregnancy 
discrimination as a type of sex discrimination and the Department's 
previously articulated positions on gender identity discrimination 
related to sexual orientation based on gender stereotyping, the 
Department clarifies in the final Guidance that violations involving 
discrimination on the bases of sex, pregnancy, gender identity
(including transgender status), and sex stereotyping (including 
discrimination related to sexual orientation based on such 
stereotyping) are considered to involve discrimination on the basis of 
the same protected status for the purpose of determining whether two 
violations are substantially similar. While the use of the term 
"same" does not intend to suggest that all of these forms of 
discrimination are identical, these violations are sufficiently similar 
to be classified as substantially similar violations under the Order.
    Finally, one union commenter argued that any time an employer 
commits multiple discrimination violations, regardless of whether they 
involve the same protected status or employment practice, they should 
be considered repeated violations. The Department declines to adopt 
this suggestion. Violations of anti-discrimination requirements are 
often fact-intensive and the Department does not believe it would be 
appropriate to treat all such violations as substantially similar 
absent the additional factors described above.
Alternative Proposal
    A few commenters, including unions and other employee advocates, 
argued that the scope of repeated violations should be expanded to 
include any time a contractor has violated any one of the covered Labor 
Laws five times in the last 3 years. The final Guidance does not adopt 
this suggestion because it is inconsistent with the Order's specific 
direction that a determination of a repeated violation be based on 
"the same or a substantially similar requirement." However, the 
Department notes that multiple violations that are not substantially 
similar to each other may be properly considered in an evaluation of 
whether such violations show sufficient disregard for the Labor Laws 
that they constitute pervasive violations.
3. Willful Violations
    The Proposed Guidance set forth several classification criteria for 
determining whether a violation of one of the Labor Laws is a willful 
violation under the Order. 80 FR 30585. Under the Proposed Guidance, a 
willful violation was specifically defined for five Labor Laws--the OSH 
Act or an OSHA-approved State Plan; the FLSA (including the Equal Pay 
Act), the ADEA, Title VII, and the ADA. Under these statutes, the term 
"willful" has a well-established meaning or an analogous statutory 
standard exists that is consistent with the Order. The Proposed 
Guidance included a residual criterion for all other Labor Laws, 
stating that a violation would be willful if

the findings of the relevant enforcement agency, court, arbitrator, 
or arbitral panel support a conclusion that the contractor... 
knew that its conduct was prohibited by any of the Labor Laws or 
showed reckless disregard for, or acted with plain indifference to, 
whether its conduct was prohibited by one or more requirements of 
the Labor Laws.

    Id.
a. OSH Act or OSHA-Approved State Plan Violations Enforced Through 
Citations or Equivalent State Documents
    The Proposed Guidance set forth a specific definition of a willful 
violation for the OSH Act and OSHA-approved State Plans. It stated that 
OSH Act and OSHA-approved State Plan violations would be willful if the 
relevant enforcement agency had designated the citation as willful or 
any equivalent State designation. 80 FR 30585.
    As noted above, a few worker-advocate commenters expressed concern 
that the Proposed Guidance's definitions of serious, repeated, willful, 
and pervasive violations did not sufficiently account for OSH Act 
violations that are not enforced through citations, such as retaliation 
violations. As a result of these comments, the Department has clarified 
this point of ambiguity by dividing OSH Act and OSHA-approved State 
Plan violations into two categories: Citation OSHA violations and non-
citation OSHA violations. For the former, an OSHA or OSHA-approved 
State Plan designation of "willful" (or an equivalent State 
designation) controls the classification of the violation under the 
Order. For the latter, a violation is willful if it meets the residual 
standard for a willful violation--knowledge, reckless disregard, or 
plain indifference.
    In a nonsubstantive change, the final Guidance has also deleted 
language stating that OSH Act and OSHA-approved State Plan citations 
designated as willful are willful violations under the Order only if 
the designation has not been subsequently vacated. This language is 
unnecessary in light of the broader statement in the final Guidance 
that if a Labor Law decision or portion thereof that would otherwise 
cause a violation to be classified as serious, repeated, willful, or 
pervasive is reversed or vacated, then the violation will not be 
classified as such under the Order.
b. Violations of the Minimum Wage, Overtime, and Child Labor Provisions 
of the FLSA
    The Proposed Guidance stated that a violation of the FLSA would be 
willful if an administrative merits determination sought or assessed 
civil monetary penalties for a willful violation, or there was a civil 
judgment or arbitral award or decision finding the contractor or 
subcontractor liable for back wages for greater than 2 years or 
affirming the assessment of civil monetary penalties for a willful 
violation. 80 FR 30586. As in the case of OSH Act violations, these 
criteria did not sufficiently account for all violations of the FLSA 
because these criteria apply only to the FLSA's provisions on minimum 
wage, overtime, and (in the case of civil monetary penalties) child 
labor. See 29 U.S.C. 216(e)(1)(A)(ii), 216(e)(2), 216(e)(3)(C), 255. 
Accordingly, the final Guidance clarifies that these criteria will only 
be used to classify these violations of the FLSA, while other 
violations of the FLSA--such as retaliation, see 29 U.S.C. 215(a)(3)--
will be classified using the residual criterion.
    One commenter also expressed concern that it would be inappropriate 
to classify an FLSA violation as willful due to the assessment or award 
of more than 2 years of back wages because there are occasions when 
employers agree to pay back wages for greater than 2 years even when an 
FLSA violation is not willful. The Department declines to change the 
Guidance in response to the above comment. Under the FLSA, WHD's 
standard practice is to use an investigative period of up to 2 years 
for non-willful violations and up to 3 years for willful violations, 
and to assess back wages for the relevant investigative period. Thus, 
WHD's standard practice is to assess no more than 2 years of back wages 
in a form WH-56 unless the agency makes an investigative finding that 
the violation was willful.
    As a related matter, however, the Department has clarified that for 
civil judgments and arbitral awards or decisions under the FLSA's 
minimum wage and overtime provisions, a violation will only be 
classified as willful under the Order if the Labor Law decision 
includes a finding that the violation was willful. This is because in 
such litigation, the 2-year limit for non-willful violations only 
limits the recovery to the 2 years prior to the commencement of the 
litigation. See 29 U.S.C. 255. It does not affect the recovery of 
additional back wages if the violations continue while the litigation 
is pending. If the violations continue after the commencement of 
litigation, back wages can ultimately be awarded for more than 2 
years--for up to 2 years prior to the commencement of the litigation, 
plus any additional period of time from the date the litigation is
initiated until final judgment. Thus, because a non-willful violation 
of the FLSA's minimum wage or overtime provisions reflected in a civil 
judgment or arbitral award or decision may result in more than 2 years 
of back wages, the final Guidance clarifies that whether such 
violations are willful under the Order depends on whether the court or 
arbitrator(s) makes a finding of willfulness--and does not depend on 
the number of years of back wages awarded.
c. Violations of the ADEA
    The Proposed Guidance stated that violations of the ADEA are 
willful if the enforcement agency, court, arbitrator, or arbitral panel 
assessed or awarded liquidated damages. One commenter asserted that an 
ADEA violation might be willful even if liquidated damages are not 
awarded, and therefore suggested that the Department apply the 
willfulness residual criterion to ADEA violations in addition to the 
liquidated damages criterion. The Department declines to expand the 
application of the residual criterion to cover the ADEA. As discussed 
below, in the discussion of the residual criterion generally, an 
expansion of the residual criterion is unnecessary and would not 
further the efficient administration of the Order.
d. Title VII and the ADA
    One commenter suggested that the statute-specific criteria for 
willful violations under Title VII and the ADA did not sufficiently 
account for violations involving retaliation, and suggested adding the 
words "or retaliatory" to describe the types of violations that could 
involve punitive damages. The Department, however, believes that the 
language in the Proposed Guidance sufficiently accounts for retaliation 
cases. The criteria specified in the Guidance for willful violations 
under Title VII and the ADA already applies to their anti-retaliation 
provisions. See 42 U.S.C. 1981a(b)(1) (stating that punitive damages 
may be awarded for any violation of Title VII or the ADA in which the 
employer acts with malice or reckless indifference). As such, no 
changes to the Guidance are necessary to clarify that retaliation 
violations of these statutes may be classified as willful if they meet 
the listed criteria.
e. Any Other Violations of the Labor Laws (Formerly "Other Labor 
Laws")
    The Proposed Guidance stated that for any Labor Laws for which a 
specific criterion for willfulness was not listed, a violation would be 
willful if

the findings of the relevant enforcement agency, court, arbitrator, 
or arbitral panel support a conclusion that the contractor... 
knew that its conduct was prohibited by any of the Labor Laws or 
showed reckless disregard for, or acted with plain indifference to, 
whether its conduct was prohibited by one or more requirements of 
the Labor Laws.

80 FR 30586.

    Several employee advocates argued that this residual standard 
should apply to all of the Labor Laws, including the five statutes for 
which the Guidance also includes statute-specific criteria (OSH Act/
OSHA-Approved State Plans, FLSA, ADEA, Title VII, ADA). These 
commenters argued that the statute-specific criteria would not 
necessarily capture all violations of those statutes in which the 
employer engaged in willful conduct.
    The Department declines to broaden the application of the residual 
standard to all of the Labor Laws. The purpose of listing specific 
standards for the five laws that already incorporate a concept of 
willfulness (or, in the case of Title VII and the ADA, the related 
standard of malice or reckless indifference) is to further the 
efficient administration of the Order. Moreover, the Department 
believes it is inappropriate for ALCAs to second-guess the decisions of 
enforcement agencies, arbitrators, or courts as to whether or not a 
violation was willful. Accordingly, for Labor Laws with an existing 
willfulness framework, violations are only willful under the Order if 
the relevant Labor Law decision explicitly includes such a finding.\73\ 
In contrast, for Labor Laws that do not have a willfulness framework, 
an ALCA may examine the relevant Labor Law decision to determine 
whether it is readily ascertainable from the decision that the 
violation was willful under the residual criterion.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \73\ Some worker-advocacy commenters noted that the EEOC does 
not assess punitive or liquidated damages at the reasonable-cause 
stage. The Department recognizes that this means EEOC reasonable 
cause determinations will not provide a basis for finding a 
violation "willful."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A number of industry commenters expressed concern that the Proposed 
Guidance's residual criterion is too vague, overbroad, and would not be 
applied correctly or consistently. Several of these commenters 
expressed particular concern about how prime contractors would be able 
to apply this standard when assessing violations by subcontractors.
    The final Guidance retains the residual criterion for willful 
violations. While the Department agrees that a determination of 
knowledge, reckless disregard, or plain indifference will depend on the 
facts of individual cases, it believes that ALCAs will be able to 
implement this standard with assistance of this Guidance and its 
appendices. This standard is well-established, having been applied for 
many years by courts and administrative agencies in the context of the 
OSH Act, FLSA, and ADEA. The Department is confident that it can be 
applied in the context of other Labor Laws as well. The Department also 
notes that the key language of the residual criterion comes from the 
Order itself, which states that where no statutory standards exist, the 
standard for willfulness should take into account "whether the entity 
knew of, showed reckless disregard for, or acted with plain 
indifference to the matter of whether its conduct was prohibited by the 
requirements of the [Labor Laws]." Order, section 4(b)(i)(B)(3). The 
residual criterion in the Proposed Guidance conforms to the Order's 
text, and the Department declines to narrow it further.
    One industry commenter argued that this definition was too broad 
and could in some cases be counterproductive, such as by penalizing 
contractors for having a written policy in place which could in turn be 
used as evidence of the contractor's knowledge of its legal 
requirements. While the Department recognizes the commenter's concerns, 
an employer's deviation from a written policy is plainly evidence that 
the employer was aware of its legal obligations but chose to ignore 
them. The Department believes that employers have sufficient existing 
incentives to maintain written policies such that classifying a 
violation as willful under these circumstances will not cause employers 
to forgo written policies.
    Another industry commenter expressed concern that one of the 
examples of a non-willful VEVRAA violation in Appendix B of the 
Proposed Guidance (now Appendix C in the final Guidance) described a 
disparate impact case, which the commenter believed could create 
confusion by suggesting that a disparate impact case under certain 
circumstances could be a willful violation. The Department agrees that 
disparate impact cases under VEVRAA, absent unusual circumstances, will 
not be willful violations under the Order, and the intent of the 
example is to illustrate just that.
    The Department believes that the final FAR rule addresses the 
industry commenters' concerns about application of the residual 
willfulness standard by prime contractors. As noted in section V of 
this section-by-section analysis, below, the final FAR rule clarifies 
that subcontractors will make their detailed Labor Law disclosures 
directly to the Department, and will receive advice about their record 
of compliance from DOL which they may provide to contractors. Under this 
structure, contractors will be able to rely on the Department's classification 
determinations rather than making the classification determinations themselves.
    The Department further emphasizes that a determination of 
willfulness will only be made if it is readily ascertainable from the 
findings of the Labor Law decision. ALCAs will not examine case files 
or evidentiary records in order to make assessments of willfulness. 
Where the findings of the Labor Law decision do not include any facts 
that indicate that a violation was willful, the violation will not be 
considered willful under the Order.
f. Table of Examples
    The Department has updated the table of examples to reflect the 
changes in the final Guidance.
g. Other Comments on Willful Violations
    Some employer groups also argued that the definition of willful 
violations fails to account for the fact that employers sometimes must 
deliberately commit a violation to obtain review of an agency's ruling. 
They noted that, for example, employers must violate section 8(a) of 
the NLRA by refusing to bargain with a union in order to obtain 
appellate review of the NLRB's determination that a group of employees 
is an appropriate bargaining unit. Two of these groups asserted that 
such violations are "technical" violations that should not be 
considered willful or even to be violations at all.
    The Department declines to adopt a bright-line rule under which so-
called "technical" violations would not be considered violations or 
would not be classified as willful. A contractor's belief that it had 
justifiable reasons for committing a Labor Law violation is best 
considered as a possible mitigating factor during the weighing process 
described in section III(B) of the Guidance.
    Some industry commenters also suggested that a violation should 
only be classified as willful where the violation has been 
"adjudicated." According to these commenters, agencies will often 
initially allege that an employer's actions are willful or knowing, 
even though they may not be. For example, OSHA might initially 
designate a violation as willful in a citation, only to eventually 
retreat from this position. Therefore, these commenters suggested, 
willful violations should be limited solely to those administrative 
merits determinations made by a neutral fact-finder after the employer 
has been accorded the opportunity for a hearing.
    For the same reasons the Department has provided in support of its 
use of non-adjudicated administrative merits determinations generally, 
the Department declines to limit willful violations to adjudicated 
proceedings. However, as discussed above under "Effect of reversal or 
vacatur of basis for classification," the final Guidance clarifies 
that a violation should not be classified as willful if an agency has 
rescinded or vacated the aspect of an administrative merits 
determination upon which a willfulness determination was based.
4. Pervasive Violations
    The Proposed Guidance defined pervasive violations to be violations 
that reflect a basic disregard by the contractor for the Labor Laws as 
demonstrated by a pattern of serious or willful violations, continuing 
violations, or numerous violations. See 80 FR 30588. The Proposed 
Guidance also included additional factors and examples.
In General
    Several employer groups expressed concern about the Proposed 
Guidance's explanation of pervasive violations. These groups generally 
argued that the definition was not sufficiently specific and would not 
be applied consistently. Some of these commenters argued that the 
category of pervasive violations should be eliminated entirely and that 
the analyses relevant to pervasive violations (such as the involvement 
of upper management) should instead be incorporated into the overall 
assessment of a contractor's responsibility. Some argued that the 
definition should instead be based on more "objective" criteria such 
as numeric thresholds. One commenter, the Equal Employment Advisory 
Council, urged the Department to amend the definition such that only a 
contractor with a "clear record of violations that unambiguously 
demonstrates a lack of commitment to compliance responsibilities" may 
be found to have pervasive violations. In contrast, employee advocates 
and civil rights groups generally supported the Department's definition 
of pervasive violations. One labor union commenter suggested that a 
large employer's violations be treated as pervasive if multiple 
violations occur at a particular targeted facility, and that multiple 
violations be treated as pervasive if they impact at least 25 percent 
of the employees in the portion of the workforce targeted by the 
employer.
    The Department declines to eliminate the definition of pervasive. 
The Order specifically instructs the Department to define a 
classification of "pervasive" violations. Moreover, the Department 
disagrees that the inquiry into whether a contractor has pervasive 
violations is identical to the determination of whether that contractor 
is responsible. In particular, a contractor with pervasive violations 
may nonetheless ultimately be found responsible, depending on the 
existence of mitigating factors and, potentially, the adoption of a 
labor compliance agreement.
    The Department also declines to make significant modifications to 
the definition of pervasive or to adopt bright-line criteria. In the 
Department's view, this definition necessarily must be flexible. 
Notwithstanding the utility of the definitions of serious, repeated, 
and willful violations, the Department recognizes that violations 
falling within these classifications may still vary significantly in 
their gravity, impact, and scope. Thus, it would not be reasonable to 
require a finding of "pervasive" violations based on a set number or 
combination of these violations. Similarly, the Department declines to 
adopt rigid criteria that would mandate, for example, that any company 
of a certain size with at least a certain designated number of serious, 
repeated, or willful violations would be deemed to have pervasive 
violations.
    The lack of a bright-line test is not unique to the definition of 
pervasive violations. The FAR provides contracting officers with 
significant flexibility when assessing other elements of a contractor's 
responsibility and past performance. See FAR 9.104-1, 42.1501. For 
example, as a part of the responsibility determination, contracting 
officers must consider a number of factors, including "integrity and 
business ethics" and whether the contractor has "the necessary 
organization, experience, accounting and operational controls, and 
technical skills, or the ability to obtain them." Id. 9.104-1. 
Similarly, in past performance evaluations, contracting officers 
consider factors such as whether the contractor has exhibited 
"reasonable and cooperative behavior and commitment to customer 
satisfaction" and "business-like concern for the interest of the 
customer." Id. 42.1501(a). Finally, during the suspension and 
debarment process, a suspending and debarring official has the 
discretion not to debar a contractor based on a holistic evaluation of 
multiple factors, such as the contractor's cooperation, remedial measures, 
and effective internal control systems, which may demonstrate a 
contractor's responsibility. See id. 9.406-1(a). Accordingly, the 
Department does not believe that it is necessary or appropriate to adopt 
rigid numerical criteria to define pervasive. The Department notes, however, 
that violations will not be classified as pervasive if they are minimal in 
nature, given that this category seeks to encompass those contractors who 
act with a basic disregard for their obligations under the Labor Laws. To 
that end, the Department expects that this classification will be applied 
sparingly. 
Size of the Contractor
    The Order provides that the standards for pervasive should take 
into account

the number of violations of a requirement or the aggregate number of 
violations of requirements in relation to the size of the entity.

    Order, section 4(b)(i)(B)(4). The Proposed Guidance stated that 
whether a contract is found to have pervasive violations "will depend 
on the size of the contractor..., as well as the nature of the 
violations themselves." 80 FR 30574, 30588. The Proposed Guidance 
specifically requested comments by interested parties regarding how 
best to assess the number of a contractor's violations in light of its 
size.
    One industry commenter requested clarification on how the size of a 
contractor will impact the determination of whether violations are 
pervasive, and on the meaning of the terms "small," "medium-sized," 
and "large" within the meaning of the examples set out in the 
Guidance. In contrast, several employee advocates cautioned against 
giving undue weight to a company's size when assessing whether 
violations are pervasive. These commenters argued that while smaller 
companies with numerous violations clearly should be considered 
pervasive violators, the size of a large company alone should not 
excuse its violations of Labor Laws.
    The Department declines to modify the definition of pervasive 
either to eliminate or to further specify criteria for measuring 
company size. The Department does not eliminate the company-size factor 
because, as noted above, the Order explicitly requires the Department 
to take this factor into account in the definition of pervasive. Order, 
section 4(b)(i)(B)(4). This makes sense because, as the Proposed 
Guidance notes, larger companies can be expected to have a greater 
number of violations overall than smaller companies. The Department 
agrees, however, that an employer's size does not automatically excuse 
any violations. Rather, the size of the employer will be one factor 
among many assessed when considering whether violations are pervasive. 
Likewise, the Department declines to establish specific criteria for 
how company size will affect the determination of pervasive violations. 
As noted above, the violations that ALCAs will consider and assess will 
vary significantly, making the imposition of bright-line rules for 
company size inadvisable. However, the Department has modified the 
examples in the Guidance so that each example notes the number of 
employees for the contractor. These examples are not intended to serve 
as minimum requirements, but simply as illustrations of circumstances 
under which violations may be classified as pervasive.
Involvement of Higher-Level Management
    The Proposed Guidance also explained that a violation is more 
likely to be pervasive when higher-level management officials are 
involved in the misconduct. This is because such involvement signals to 
the workforce that future violations will be tolerated or condoned. 
Involvement of high-level managers may also dissuade workers from 
reporting violations or raising complaints. The Guidance also noted 
that if managers actively avoid learning about Labor Law violations, 
this may also indicate that the violations are pervasive.
    While worker-advocacy groups supported the inclusion of the higher-
level management factor, some employer groups asked the Department to 
clarify what constitutes higher-level management and expressed concern 
that this criterion would be applied to low-level management. For 
example, one commenter suggested that discrimination or harassment by a 
"rogue" manager should not result in a determination that the 
violations are pervasive if the company had strong nondiscrimination 
and anti-harassment policies in place and takes swift and appropriate 
remedial action upon learning of the manager's actions. Another 
commented that the Guidance should add that managers need to be trained 
only to the extent needed to perform their managerial duties.
    By using the term "higher-level management," the Department did 
not suggest that the involvement of any employees with managerial 
responsibilities would be deemed a pervasive violation. The Department 
agrees that a violation is unlikely to be classified as pervasive where 
the manager involved is low-level (such as a first-line supervisor), 
acting contrary to a strong company policy, and the company responds 
with appropriate remedial action, and the Department has clarified this 
point in the final Guidance. The Department further notes that in the 
weighing step of the assessment process (discussed below), an ALCA will 
consider a contractor's remedial action as an important factor that may 
mitigate the existence of a violation.

B. Weighing Labor Law Violations and Mitigating Factors (Step Two) 
(Formerly "Assessing Violations and Considering Mitigating Factors")

    As discussed above, an ALCA's assessment of and advice regarding a 
contractor's Labor Law violations involves a three-step process. In the 
classification step, the ALCA reviews all of the contractor's 
violations to determine if any are serious, repeated, willful, and/or 
pervasive. In the weighing step, the ALCA then analyzes any serious, 
repeated, willful, and/or pervasive violations in light of the totality 
of the circumstances, including any mitigating factors that are 
present. In the final advice step, the ALCA provides written analysis 
and advice to the contracting officer regarding the contractor's record 
of Labor Law compliance, and whether a labor compliance agreement or 
other action is needed.
    Based on the comments and additional deliberations, the Department 
modifies the final Guidance to improve the clarity and organization of 
the weighing section. For example, the Department has changed the 
reference in the Proposed Guidance to violations that "raise 
particular concerns" to "factors that weigh against a satisfactory 
record of Labor Law compliance." The Department has also included 
further explanation of the process to clarify that ALCAs do not make 
findings that specific violations are "violations of particular 
concern." Rather, the ALCA proceeds with a holistic review that 
considers the totality of the circumstances and considers all of the 
relevant factors.
    A summary of the comments, the Department's responses, and any 
changes adopted in the final Guidance are set forth below.
ALCA Capacity and Training
    A number of commenters expressed concern about the capacity of 
ALCAs to complete their duties effectively. One employer representative 
argued that ALCAs will not be equipped to analyze employer submissions 
regarding mitigating factors. This commenter believed that contractors 
will likely attempt to show mitigating circumstances by submitting 
evidence in an effort to re-litigate whether a violation actually 
occurred or whether the amount of damages awarded was correct. 
Contractors will also make legal arguments about "good faith" and 
whether remediation was appropriate. The commenter asserted that ALCAs 
may have difficulty sifting through the legal complexities of these 
submissions.
    As a related matter, some commenters stressed the importance of 
adequate training and support for ALCAs. For example, several labor 
unions highlighted the need for ALCA training, and suggested such 
training should include a role of unions and other interested parties. 
A number of employer representatives argued that the Federal Government 
likely did not have sufficient resources to provide enough staff and 
training to prevent bottlenecks in evaluating contractor integrity and 
business ethics.
    The Department has considered these comments and, as a general 
matter, believes that they support the Department's development of this 
Guidance to include specific guidelines for classifying Labor Law 
violations and for evaluating the totality of the circumstances. The 
Department's intent with this Guidance has been to create a document 
that contains appropriate context and narrative description to assist 
ALCAs and other interested parties with carrying out their 
responsibilities under the Order.
    In response to these comments, the Department has also added 
language to the Guidance that clarifies the role of ALCAs in assessing 
contractors' records of compliance. The Guidance clarifies that in 
classifying Labor Law decisions, ALCAs consider "information that is 
readily ascertainable from the Labor Law decisions themselves." 
Guidance, section III(A). And, while mitigating circumstances will be 
considered, the Department has clarified in the Guidance that re-
litigation of a disclosed Labor Law decision is not appropriate. See 
id. ("ALCAs do not second-guess or re-litigate enforcement actions or 
the decisions of reviewing officials, courts, and arbitrators."). The 
Department has also tailored the "good faith" mitigating factor to 
situations where "the findings in the relevant Labor Law decision" 
support the contractor's argument, so that the consideration of good 
faith does not become a far-reaching effort to re-litigate the decision 
itself. See id. section III(B)(1)(f).
    Finally, the Department strongly agrees with the comments on the 
importance of adequate training and support for ALCAs, and the 
Department--in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget--
will provide such training as part of the implementation of the FAR 
rule and the Guidance.
Exercise of Discretion
    Numerous employer organizations argued that the guidelines for 
weighing violations of particular concern and mitigating factors are 
subjective and ambiguous, which may lead to inconsistent determinations 
between ALCAs and across agencies. These groups argued that the 
Proposed Guidance gave ALCAs and contracting officers too much 
discretion in how to weigh the various factors and whether to require 
negotiation of a labor compliance agreement.
    The Department rejects the argument that the weighing process will 
involve improper subjective decision-making by ALCAs or contracting 
officers. These assessments will necessarily involve exercising 
judgment and discretion, but the exercise of judgment and discretion 
are a fundamental part of the pre-existing FAR responsibility 
determination.\74\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \74\ See Impresa Construzioni Geom. Domenico Garufi v. United 
States, 238 F.3d 1324, 1334-35 (Fed. Cir. 2001) ("Contracting 
officers are generally given wide discretion in making 
responsibility determinations and in determining the amount of 
information that is required to make a responsibility 
determination." (internal quotations marks and citations omitted)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As discussed above, the FAR provides contracting officers with 
significant flexibility when assessing other elements of a contractor's 
responsibility. See FAR 9.104-1. Contracting officers must consider a 
number of factors, such as "a satisfactory performance record," 
"integrity and business ethics," and whether the contractor has "the 
necessary organization, experience, accounting and operational 
controls, and technical skills, or the ability to obtain them." Id. 
The test for debarment similarly relies on a holistic evaluation of 
multiple factors, such as the contractor's cooperation, remedial 
measures, and effective internal control systems. See FAR 9.406-1(a).
    The Department does not believe that the new requirements and 
processes that implement the Order require the exercise of more 
discretion or subjectivity than these existing determinations. To the 
contrary, the final FAR rule and the final Guidance contain detailed 
guidelines and examples to assist ALCAs and contracting officers in 
their respective roles.
    The Department also notes that the Order expressly requires the FAR 
and the Department to create processes to ensure government-wide 
consistency in the implementation of the Order. ALCAs will work closely 
with the Department during more complicated determinations, and the 
Department will be able to assist ALCAs in comparing a contractor's 
record with records that have in other cases resulted in advice that a 
labor compliance agreement is needed, or that notification of the 
suspending and debarring official is appropriate. Through its work with 
enforcement agencies, the Department also will provide assistance in 
analyzing whether remediation efforts are sufficient to bring 
contractors into compliance with Labor Laws and whether contractors 
have implemented programs or processes that will ensure future 
compliance in the course of performance of Federal contracts. This 
level of coordination will ensure that ALCAs (and through them, 
contracting officers), receive guidance and structure.

Concern About Delays in the Procurement Process
    Industry commenters raised various concerns about burdens 
associated with the assessment by ALCAs of a contractor's Labor Law 
violations, citing potential regulatory bottlenecks and delays. For 
example, commenters opined that an awarding agency's ALCA could 
disagree with another agency's ALCA on the impact of a particular 
violation on the contractor's responsibility--or that an ALCA could 
disagree with its own agency's contracting officer, delaying one 
agency's award until the differences could be resolved.
    The Department has carefully considered these comments, but finds 
them to take issue largely with the structure mandated by the Order 
itself and not with any specific aspect of the Department's Guidance. 
The plain text of the Order requires contracting officers to consider 
Labor Law violations as part of the responsibility determination and 
requires contracting officers to consult with ALCAs as a part of this 
process. Order, section 2(a)(iii).
    The Department also notes that the FAR Council has structured the 
assessment and advice process to limit the risk of delay. As discussed 
below, the final FAR rule maintains the default 3-day period for an 
ALCA to provide advice. FAR 22.2004-2(b)(2)(i). It also retains the 
requirement that if the contracting officer has not received timely 
advice, the contracting officer must proceed with the responsibility 
determination "using available information and business judgment." 
Id. 22.2004-2(b)(5)(iii). The Department believes that this authority 
granted to contracting officers will allow contracting officers to 
proceed without delay where necessary.
1. Mitigating Factors That Weigh in Favor of a Satisfactory Record of 
Labor Law Compliance
    The Order instructs contracting officers to afford contractors the 
opportunity to disclose any steps taken to come into compliance with 
Labor Laws. Order, section 2(a)(ii). It also seeks to ensure that ALCAs 
and contracting officers give appropriate consideration to remedial 
measures and other mitigating factors when assessing a contractor's 
record. See id. section 4(a)(ii). The Department's Proposed Guidance 
provided a non-exclusive list of mitigating factors that ALCAs should 
consider in the weighing process. 80 FR 30574, 30590-91. It stated that 
remediation efforts--actions to correct the violation and prevent its 
recurrence--are typically the most important mitigating factor. Id. at 
30590.
General Comments
    A number of unions and employee-advocacy organizations raised 
concerns with the mitigating factors listed in the Guidance. One 
commenter stated that the Guidance should not treat circumstances such 
as "a long period of compliance" or "a single violation" as 
mitigating factors. It argued that these factors may not provide an 
accurate assessment of the contractor's behavior, as a single violation 
may be severe and impactful. The commenter also noted that the low 
number of violations may be due to infrequent inspections by the 
enforcement agency during the 3-year period, rather than conduct that 
actually complies with Labor Laws.
    Some worker-advocacy organizations argued that the Guidance should 
not take into account the number of violations relative to the size of 
the contractor. These commenters cautioned that size should not be an 
excuse for a large number of major violations. They further noted that 
large companies, due to their greater resources, may actually be more 
capable of preventing and remedying violations than smaller companies.
    Similarly, a number of commenters discussed whether a contractor's 
safety-and-health program should be considered a mitigating factor. 
Some union and employee-advocacy organizations argued that only 
certain, qualifying safety-and-health programs should be considered as 
mitigating factors. They suggested that the contractor must show that 
its program is being actively and effectively implemented and meets 
other requirements. For example, some commenters stated that a 
contractor with repeated or pervasive OSHA violations should not be 
able to point to its safety-and-health program as a mitigating factor 
because the violations demonstrate that the employer's safety-and-
health programs have not been adequate.
    The Department declines to make any substantive changes to the 
guidance on mitigating factors. In most instances, the number of 
violations, the period of compliance, the violations relative to size, 
and the implementation of compliance programs will be important factors 
in weighing the significance of a contractor's Labor Law violations. In 
response to the commenters' concerns, the Department notes that the 
ALCA will weigh a contractor's Labor Law violations based on the 
totality of the circumstances. For example, it is generally true that a 
single violation will not lead to a conclusion that the contractor has 
an unsatisfactory record of Labor Law compliance. However, it is 
possible that a single violation may merit advice that a labor 
compliance agreement is needed because of the violation's severity and 
because the harm has not been remediated. Similarly, concerns about 
"paper" compliance programs will also be addressed through the ALCAs' 
consideration of the totality of the circumstances--which may include 
the adequacy of a compliance program put forth as a mitigating 
circumstance.
Remediation Efforts
    The Proposed Guidance explained that ALCAs should give greater 
mitigating weight to contractors' remediation efforts when they involve 
two components: (1) "correct[ing] the violation itself, including by 
making any affected workers whole" and (2) taking steps to ensure 
future compliance so that violations do not recur. See 80 FR 30574, 
30590. The Proposed Guidance stated that the fact that a contractor has 
entered into a labor compliance agreement should be considered a 
mitigating factor. Id.
    Several employer groups stated that the discussion of remediation 
efforts in the Proposed Guidance was confusing, and they expressed 
concerns about the extent of their obligations under the Order. In 
particular, some objected to the Proposed Guidance statement that "in 
most cases, the most important mitigating factors will be the extent to 
which the contractor or subcontractor has remediated the violation and 
taken steps to prevent its recurrence." 80 FR at 30590. In their view, 
this suggests that ALCAs--through labor compliance agreements--could 
impose remediation measures that go beyond what is required to comply 
with the labor law at issue. They also argued that the Proposed 
Guidance was unclear about what constitutes appropriate remedial 
measures.
    One employer representative, the Equal Employment Advisory Council 
(EEAC), urged the Department to clarify the Proposed Guidance's 
reference to "making any affected workers whole." 80 FR at 30590. 
EEAC suggested that where an employer has entered into a settlement 
agreement with an enforcement agency for backpay that is less than the 
amount initially proposed in an administrative merits determination, 
the compromise amount of relief should be accepted as a "make whole" 
remedy of the violation.
    Finally, several employer representatives objected to the use of 
remediation as a mitigating factor when the employer has challenged the 
violation and the matter has not yet been fully adjudicated--that is, 
while the employer is seeking administrative or judicial review of an 
administrative merits determination. The EEAC asserted that a 
contractor "cannot enter into remediation as described by the proposal 
if it chooses to contest the agency's finding through administrative 
tribunals, in court, or elsewhere." The EEAC argued that the Guidance 
should "recognize that where a violation is being contested, a 
contractor may still demonstrate mitigating factors apply, although 
remediation may not be the most important factor in such cases."
    After carefully considering all the comments, the Department 
modifies the discussion of remediation in the Guidance for clarity, but 
otherwise declines to make substantive changes. The Department does not 
believe that the Guidance was unclear about what constitutes a remedial 
measure. As the Guidance notes, remedial measures can include measures 
taken to correct an unlawful practice, make affected employees whole, 
or otherwise comply with a contractor's obligations under the Labor 
Laws. See Guidance, section III(B)(1)(a). The measures taken to correct 
an unlawful practice or make employees whole are necessarily specific 
to the Labor Law violation at issue. For example, where WHD finds that 
an employee was misclassified as an independent contractor and not paid
a minimum wage or overtime under the FLSA, remedial measures could 
include correcting the practice by appropriately classifying the 
employee going forward (or appropriately classifying all similarly 
situated employees going forward) and making the employee whole by 
paying to the employee the back wages that the Labor Law decision 
specifies are owed to the employee.
    The Department does not agree that the Guidance should limit 
consideration of preventative measures as "remediation" because those 
measures may go beyond the basic legal requirements under the Labor 
Laws. The commenters that suggested such a limit confuse both the 
purpose of the Order and the authority under which it was promulgated. 
The purpose of the Order is not to better enforce the Labor Laws 
generally, and the President did not promulgate the Order under the 
legal authority of the specific Labor Law statutes. Rather, the Order's 
purpose is to increase efficiency and cost savings in the work 
performed by parties that contract with the Federal Government by 
ensuring that they understand and comply with labor laws. See Order, 
section 1. And the Order was promulgated under the President's 
authority under the Procurement Act, not the Labor Laws. Accordingly, 
ALCAs and contracting officers are not barred from crediting 
contractors for implementing future-oriented measures that go beyond 
the minimum specifically required under the Labor Laws--whether 
voluntarily, through a settlement with an enforcement agency, or 
through a labor compliance agreement negotiated at the suggestion of an 
ALCA.\75\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \75\ The Department has modified the Guidance to include a 
separate and more extensive explanation of labor compliance 
agreements as a part of the subsequent section III(C), "Advice 
regarding a contractor's record of Labor Law compliance." 
Accordingly, the Department summarizes and responds to comments 
regarding labor compliance agreements below as a part of a parallel 
section in this section-by-section analysis. In that section, the 
Department responds to commenters' concern about whether it is 
appropriate for a labor compliance agreement to require preventative 
measures that may go beyond minimum compliance with the Labor Laws.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Guidance recognizes enterprise-wide efforts and enhanced 
settlement agreements as particularly important because they reflect a 
contractor's commitment to preventing future Labor Law violations and 
may include internal compliance mechanisms that will catch (and 
encourage the correction of) potential problems at an early stage. 
These kinds of preventative measures are exactly the type of policies 
and practices that increase efficiency in Federal contracting by 
limiting the likelihood that violations will occur during the 
subsequent performance of a Federal contract. The Department clarifies 
in the final Guidance that ALCAs thus may appropriately consider such 
efforts or measures as weighing in favor of a satisfactory record of 
Labor Law compliance.
    The Department agrees with the EEAC that ALCAs should not second-
guess the remediation that has already been negotiated by enforcement 
agencies. A contractor's prior settlement with an enforcement agency 
should generally be considered to be "make-whole" relief on behalf of 
affected workers. Such settlement agreements reflect the agency's 
decisions about the appropriate amount of backpay owed and the specific 
steps needed to correct the violations or otherwise make affected 
workers whole. Accordingly, ALCAs will not revisit whether an existing 
agreement with an enforcement agency adequately corrects a violation.
    Nonetheless, the existence of a settlement agreement does not bar 
an ALCA from considering that a violation occurred in the first place. 
Nor does remediation carried out because of such a settlement agreement 
necessarily have great weight where there are other factors present--
such as an extensive pattern of violations, other violations that were 
not within the jurisdiction of the agency negotiating the settlement, 
or the existence of new violations subsequent to the settlement. In 
such circumstances, if the settlement agreement does not include 
measures to prevent future violations, then a contracting officer (in 
consultation with an ALCA) may decide that a labor compliance agreement 
is warranted in order to consider the contractor to be responsible or 
may find the contractor nonresponsible. See Guidance, section III(C).
    With regard to the commenters' concerns about engaging in 
remediation during ongoing litigation, the Department does not believe 
any change to the Guidance is necessary. It is not clear from the EEAC 
comment why a contractor could not remediate while continuing to 
contest a violation. Employers often choose to remediate during ongoing 
litigation for various reasons, including to limit backpay liability.
    Finally, the Department rejects the commenters' implication that 
crediting remediation during ongoing litigation violates a contractor's 
right to due process. Employers who receive administrative findings of 
Labor Law violations have the right to due process, including various 
levels of adjudication and review before administrative and judicial 
tribunals, depending on the labor law involved in the violation. The 
purpose of the Order is not to circumvent that adjudicatory and 
appellate process. Rather, contracting officers have a duty to protect 
the procurement process by conducting responsibility determinations 
(and ALCAs have a duty to provide advice regarding Labor Law 
violations) to ensure that Federal contractors are responsible and that 
they will not engage in Labor Law violations that could undermine the 
quality and timeliness of Federal contract performance. Thus, the 
purpose of valuing remediation as a mitigating factor--even during 
ongoing litigation--is to give a contractor with a significant record 
of non-compliance an opportunity to take corrective action and make 
systemic changes in order to prevent violations during the performance 
of a future Federal contract.
Worker Participation in Safety-and-Health Programs
    Several unions proposed that to qualify as a mitigating factor, 
safety-and-health programs should encourage active worker 
participation. One union commented that these programs must encourage 
the reporting of work hazards and injuries without penalty. Some 
commenters also supported the implementation of joint labor-management 
safety-and-health committees. One industry commenter recommended that 
the category of mitigating factors related to safety-and-health 
programs should "explicitly include participation in OSHA Voluntary 
Protection Programs" as well as include reference to ISO 45001, which 
is a voluntary consensus standard for occupational safety-and-health 
management systems currently under development. The commenter argued 
that both of these include elements similar to the standards already 
referenced in the Proposed Guidance, including employee involvement and 
continuous improvement.
    As discussed above, the Department considers further specific 
guidance on the content of safety-and-health programs to be 
unnecessary. ALCAs will have the ability to take additional information 
about safety-and-health programs into consideration as part of their 
review of the totality of the circumstances. In particular, the 
Department agrees that OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs and the ISO 
45001 consensus standard are similar to the programs and standards
cited in the proposed guidance on mitigating factors. As such, 
employers who participate in such programs or have adopted safety-and-
health management systems pursuant to recognized consensus standards 
are encouraged to include this information when they have an 
opportunity to provide relevant information, including regarding 
mitigating factors.
Other Compliance Programs
    One commenter suggested that other types of compliance programs--
not just safety-and-health programs or grievance procedures--should be 
considered as mitigating factors. The commenter recommended retitling 
this factor or adding a separate subsection specifically on compliance 
programs.
    The Department agrees that other compliance programs should be 
included in this category, and notes that the Proposed Guidance already 
references "other compliance programs" in the mitigating factors 
discussion. To improve clarity, the Department adopts the commenter's 
recommendation to retitle this factor. This category is now entitled 
"Safety-and-health programs, grievance procedures, or other compliance 
programs."
Good Faith and Reasonable Grounds
    One industry commenter, the Associated General Contractors of 
America (AGC), expressed concern that contractors' good-faith defenses 
"will not carry considerable weight in the responsibility 
determination." AGC argued that while ALCAs may have the legal 
understanding to make informed judgments about good faith disputes, the 
contracting officers who ultimately make a responsibility determination 
do not--and will instead defer to the agency determination or court 
judgment.
    The Department believes that it is important to provide contractors 
with an opportunity to explain violations in cases where the contractor 
may have made efforts to ascertain and meet its legal obligations, but 
nonetheless have violated the law because of reliance on advice of a 
government official or an authoritative agency or court decision.
    For example, several commenters proposed that the Guidance should 
account for situations where a violation is due to an agency error. 
With regard to the DBA and the SCA, for example, commenters noted that 
some violations are caused by the failure of the contracting agency to 
include the appropriate wage determination contract language. One 
commenter argued that contractors should not have to disclose these 
types of violations, while the other noted that the Proposed Guidance 
is unclear about how the Department will assess these types of 
violations. The Department agrees that it is important to account for 
violations that result from errors beyond the contractor's control. 
Where the contractor submits information showing that a violation 
occurred as the result of action or inaction by the contracting agency, 
such as the failure to include a required contract clause or wage 
determination, this information supports a conclusion that the 
contractor acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds for its 
conduct. While the Department believes that the language of the 
Proposed Guidance was broad enough to incorporate this concept, the 
final Guidance includes a clarification to this effect.
    In addition, as discussed above in section III(A)(3)(e), some 
employer groups noted that employers must violate section 8(a) of the 
NLRA by refusing to bargain with a union in order to obtain appellate 
review of the NLRB's determination that a group of employees is an 
appropriate bargaining unit. While the Department does not view such 
violations as excusable or merely "technical," it does agree that the 
contractor's belief that it had justifiable reasons for committing a 
Labor Law violation should be taken into account as a possible 
mitigating factor during the weighing process.
    The Department believes that the Order and the related new 
requirements and processes adequately address AGC's concerns about the 
capacity of contracting officers to weigh good-faith arguments. As 
discussed above, GAO reports have repeatedly stated that prior to the 
Order, contracting officers had the authority to consider labor 
violations during the responsibility determination process, but were 
reluctant to do so in part because of a lack of expertise on the 
matter. In response, the Order directed executive agencies to designate 
ALCAs and to coordinate with the Department so that contracting 
officers receive enough support. ALCAs will assist contracting officers 
with interpreting information about good faith and reasonable grounds 
as part of ALCAs' analysis and advice regarding contractor's record of 
Labor Law compliance.
Significant Period of Compliance
    One employee-advocacy organization suggested that the Guidance 
should not include the "long period of compliance" factor. The 
organization commented that this factor may not provide an accurate 
assessment of the contractor's responsibility because a long period of 
"compliance" may be the result of infrequent inspections by Federal 
enforcement agencies during the 3-year disclosure period. It also 
commented that the duration of the "significant period of compliance" 
was not clearly defined.
    Although the Department has declined to eliminate this factor, the 
Department has added language to address the concern that the duration 
of "significant period" was not defined. The Department has clarified 
that this factor is a stronger mitigating factor where the contractor 
has a recent Labor Law decision that it must disclose, but the 
underlying conduct took place significantly before the 3-year 
disclosure period and the contractor has had no subsequent violations.
Proposals To Expressly Include Additional Mitigating Factors
    The Department also received comments that the Guidance should 
include additional mitigating factors.
    Some labor organizations proposed that a contractor's participation 
in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) should be considered a 
mitigating factor. This proposal is based on the view that workers 
covered by a CBA are likely to feel more secure reporting violations 
and working to get the violations resolved. In these circumstances, 
unionized employers may have a higher number of disclosed Labor Law 
decisions than non-union employers, particularly in the area of safety 
and health.
    While the final Guidance does not explicitly list a CBA as a 
mitigating factor, the Department clarifies in response to this comment 
that the list of mitigating factors in the Guidance is non-exclusive. 
The FAR rule states that an ALCA's analysis and advice must include 
whether there are "any" mitigating factors. FAR 22.2004-2(b)(4)(iii). 
Thus, to the extent that a contractor believes that a CBA provision is 
relevant to the violation at issue, a contractor should submit this 
information for consideration as a mitigating factor.
    Finally, one industry commenter stated that the FAR rule and 
Guidance sections on mitigating circumstances should place greater 
emphasis on a contractor's overall commitment to compliance to Labor 
Laws (as evidenced by its policies and practices), and require ALCAs 
and contracting officers to consider such information. The Department 
considers any such modification to be unnecessary. The Proposed 
Guidance already recognized the importance of a contractor's overall 
commitment to compliance by assessing various factors such as the number 
and severity of violations, the existence of safety-and-health programs, 
and arguments about good faith and reasonable grounds.
2. Factors That Weigh Against a Satisfactory Record of Labor Law 
Compliance
    The Department received numerous comments about the Proposed 
Guidance's explanation of violations that "raise particular concerns" 
about contractor integrity and business ethics. The Proposed Guidance 
provided a non-exclusive list of certain types of violations that raise 
particular concern: Pervasive violations, violations that meet two or 
more of the serious, repeated, or willful classifications, violations 
that are reflected in final orders, and violations of particular 
gravity. Some commenters felt that these categories were too broad, 
while others proposed expanding them further.
    Several employer organizations argued that the Proposed Guidance 
did not provide sufficient detail on how ALCAs and contracting officers 
are to assess the various factors. These commenters said that the 
categories of violations that "raise particular concern" were vague 
and too expansive, and as a result ALCAs and contracting officers would 
have unchecked discretion when making assessments.
    The Department declines to modify the Guidance in this respect. The 
Department does not agree that the categories of violations discussed 
in this section of the Guidance are too broad or vague. The categories 
are specific and are based on concrete, factual information--for 
example, the total damages and penalties assessed--that will usually be 
readily apparent from the findings in the Labor Law decisions.
    However, the Department has changed the name of this category from 
"violations of particular concern" to "factors that weigh against a 
satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance." This change is not 
substantive but helps make clear that ALCAs will not make a finding as 
to whether any individual violation is a "violation of particular 
concern." Rather, ALCAs will assess all facts and circumstances that 
weigh for and against a conclusion that a contractor has a satisfactory 
record of compliance in order to provide helpful analysis and advice to 
the contracting officer.
Pervasive Violations
    The Proposed Guidance stated that pervasive violations should 
receive greater weight because they raise particular concern about a 
contractor's integrity and business ethics. Several industry 
representatives commented that the Guidance does not provide sufficient 
direction on how to weigh whether pervasive violations would trigger 
the requirement for a labor compliance agreement. One suggested that 
quantitative information based on DOL enforcement data should be used 
to make an empirical definition of pervasiveness, based on a comparison 
with other employers in the same industry and jurisdiction. Other 
employer representatives repeated their view that the pervasive 
category is overly broad and vaguely defined, giving contracting 
officers and ALCAs too much discretion in assessing the record of a 
contractor with pervasive violations or deciding whether a labor 
compliance agreement is warranted.
    The Department declines to modify the guidance on weighing 
pervasive violations. As explained above and in the previous discussion 
of the definition of pervasive, flexibility and discretion are 
necessary when assessing the severity of pervasive violations, given 
the range of factors that must be considered. The Department does not 
believe it would be appropriate to set a finite threshold for the 
number or types of violations that indicate a lack of integrity and 
business ethics and therefore suggest that a labor compliance agreement 
may be warranted.
Violations That Meet Two or More of the Serious, Repeated, or Willful 
Classifications
    The Proposed Guidance stated that violations that fall into at 
least two of the serious, repeated, or willful classifications are 
violations of particular concern. Some industry groups questioned this 
approach. For example, one employer organization argued that these 
classifications are defined so broadly that many violations will fall 
into two of them even though the violations themselves are not 
significant enough to bear on contractor integrity and business ethics. 
The Department retains this criterion as an example of a factor that 
weighs against a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance; and the 
Department has added an additional clarification to section III(A) of 
the Guidance that a single violation may satisfy the criteria for more 
than one classification. As explained above, the Department disagrees 
that the serious, repeated, and willful classifications are defined too 
broadly.
Violations That Are Reflected in Final Orders
    In the Proposed Guidance, the Department stated that violations 
reflected in final orders should receive greater weight. Several 
commenters supported this proposal. The Service Employees International 
Union (SEIU), however, argued that lodging an appeal should not prevent 
a determination from receiving greater weight if the contractor's 
"appeal is clearly non-meritorious or frivolous and was taken in order 
to delay compliance." SEIU further stated that, conversely, if an 
appeal of an adverse determination is "of a close or unsettled point 
of law, lesser weight should be given to the nonfinal violation(s)."
    The Department declines to change the Guidance in this manner. 
ALCAs will not be able to evaluate the legal merit of or motivation 
behind a contractor's appeal, nor should they attempt to do so. 
However, the Department agrees with SEIU commenter that whether a 
violation involves a "close or unsettled point of law" may in certain 
circumstances be relevant in the assessment process. For example, as 
discussed above, the Guidance provides that a contractor's good-faith 
effort to meet its legal obligations may be a mitigating factor--and 
that this may occur where a new statute, rule, or standard is first 
implemented and the issue presented is novel.
    SEIU's underlying concern is that providing extra weight to final 
decisions could incentivize contractors to contest a Labor Law decision 
that they might otherwise not have contested--simply in order to delay 
it from becoming final under after a contract has been awarded. The 
Department acknowledges that such an outcome would be problematic and 
could lead to unnecessary litigation and uncertainty, and perhaps a 
delay in the correction of a violation or relief to injured workers. 
However, the Department does not believe that this outcome will be the 
practical result of the Guidance.
    As an initial matter, if a Labor Law decision is contested, 
subsequent decisions (e.g., on an appeal) will themselves be Labor Law 
decisions that will need to be disclosed under the Order. See Guidance, 
section II(B)(4). However, an uncontested (and therefore final) 
decision will no longer be considered by an ALCA during review of the 
contractor's record, nor by the contracting officer during the 
responsibility determination, after 3 years. And, as the final Guidance 
notes, "[w]hile a violation that is not final should be given lesser 
weight, it will still be considered as relevant to a contractor's record 
of Labor Law compliance." Id. section III(B)(2)(e). This provides a 
counterweight to the perceived incentive to contest violations.
    An even more significant counterweight is the value placed on 
mitigating factors, and, in particular, remediation as a mitigating 
factor. If a contractor has remediated the violation, that factor 
weighs in favor of a satisfactory record of compliance. Thus, while 
there may be an incentive for contractors to contest a violation, 
contractors have an equally powerful incentive to stop contesting a 
violation and remediate. As the Guidance notes, "[d]epending on the 
facts of the case, even where multiple factors [weighing against a 
satisfactory record] are present, they may be outweighed by mitigating 
circumstances." Guidance, section III(B)(2). Thus, a prospective 
contractor with Labor Law violations that is planning to bid on future 
contracts may be best served by considering how to remediate and 
resolve violations, not by contesting them.
    The Department also received a comment from the Equal Employment 
Advisory Council (EEAC) that questioned the manner in which the 
Proposed Guidance treated final orders. The EEAC agreed that final 
orders generally should be given more weight, but argued that this is 
not appropriate when the final order only involves "minor or technical 
violations."
    The Department declines to modify the Guidance in response to this 
comment. In general, the question of whether a violation is "minor" 
or "technical" is addressed by the classification of violation as 
serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive. If a violation is not 
classified as serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive, then it is not 
factored into the ultimate analysis and advice--whether or not it has 
been the subject of a final order. Moreover, even where a violation is 
classified as serious, repeated willful, or pervasive and has also been 
the subject of a final order, it will not necessarily result in a 
finding that the contractor has an unsatisfactory record of Labor Law 
compliance. As explained above, the assessment process requires 
consideration of the totality of circumstances, including any 
mitigating factors. Thus, while a final order may provide additional 
weight against a finding of a satisfactory record in a given case, the 
contractor's good-faith arguments and remediation of the violation may 
weigh even more heavily in the other direction. The Department believes 
that these processes for considering the totality of the circumstances 
are sufficient to take into account any argument that a particular 
violation or violations was "minor" or "technical."
Violations for Which Injunctive Relief is Granted
    As explained above in section III(A)(1)(b) of this section-by-
section analysis, the Department has determined that the granting of 
injunctive relief by a court is better considered as part of the 
weighing process than as a criterion for a serious violation. This 
means that the fact that injunctive relief has been granted is only 
relevant during an ALCA's assessment process if the violation at issue 
is already classified as serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive. 
If the violation is so classified, then the fact that injunctive relief 
was granted as part of the remedy for the violation is a factor that 
will weigh against a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance.
    As discussed above, taking injunctive relief into consideration in 
this manner is responsive to concerns that it would be overinclusive as 
a criterion for a serious violation--and it still appropriately values 
the fact that courts rarely grant either preliminary or permanent 
injunctions and require a showing of compelling circumstances, 
including irreparable harm to workers and a threat to the public 
interest. Accordingly, where a court grants injunctive relief to remedy 
a violation that is already classified as serious, repeated, willful, 
and/or pervasive, the ALCA should take this into account as a factor 
that increases the significance of that violation to the contractor's 
overall record of Labor Law compliance.
Violations of Particular Gravity
    The purpose of the "particular gravity" factor is to identify 
examples of violations that generally have more severe adverse effects 
on workers and more potential to disrupt contractor performance, and 
thus should receive greater weight in determining whether a labor 
compliance agreement is needed or other action is necessary. In the 
Proposed Guidance, the Department listed four examples of violations of 
particular gravity: "violations related to the death of an employee; 
violations involving a termination of employment for exercising a right 
protected under the Labor Laws; violations that detrimentally impact 
the working conditions of all or nearly all of the workforce at a 
worksite; and violations where the amount of back wages, penalties, and 
other damages awarded is greater than $100,000." 80 FR 30,574, 30,590.
    Several industry commenters criticized this category. In a 
representative comment, the EEAC articulated several of these concerns:

[T]he Department's category of violations of "particular gravity" 
is also too broad. Equating every type of retaliation claim with 
violations resulting in the death of an employee strains 
credibility. Further, including in this category any violation where 
the amount of back wages, penalties, and other damages is greater 
than $100,000 would include an overrepresentative proportion of 
routine administrative merits determinations found by the EEOC... 
. Finally, the category of violations that "detrimentally impact 
the working conditions of all or nearly all the workforce at a 
worksite" is unclear as the guidance provides no direction as to 
what conduct will constitute "detrimental impact" of working 
conditions.

    Other employer groups echoed these concerns.
    While unions and worker-advocacy groups generally supported the 
definition of "violations of particular gravity," several suggested 
that the Department should modify one of the examples in its list of 
violations of particular gravity. These commenters proposed broadening 
the retaliatory termination example to include interference with any 
protected right and clarifying that it includes retaliatory 
constructive-discharge situations.
    The Department has considered the concerns raised by industry 
comments and declines to make any substantive changes to the category 
of violations of particular gravity.
    First, the Department does not agree that this factor is too broad 
because it includes both violations that involve the death of an 
employee and violations involving retaliatory termination of an 
employee. While the Department agrees that the death of a worker is a 
tragedy that cannot be easily compared to other violations, it would be 
unreasonable to suggest that other violations are not of a particular 
gravity simply because there has been no loss of life. Moreover, the 
EEAC's comment misstates the treatment of retaliation in the proposed 
guidance. Retaliation can involve many types of adverse action. The 
guidance specifies only that violations "involving a termination of 
employment for exercising a right protected under the Labor Laws" 
receive greater weight. By this language, the Department did not intend 
to suggest (as the EEAC stated) that "every type of retaliation 
claim" is considered per se to be of particular gravity.

    Second, the Department believes that the Guidance's $100,000 
threshold is appropriate, as the amount of damages in a case provides a 
practical measure of the extent losses experienced by employees. The 
Department does not agree with the argument that such a threshold is 
inappropriate because it would include an "overrepresentative" 
proportion of EEOC determinations. The Department believes that it is 
misguided to focus on the proportion of decisions that would meet a 
monetary test of gravity. Rather, it is appropriate to give additional 
weight to those violations that have a severe harmful effect on 
workers. In terms of the economic impact on the workforce, $100,000 in 
lost wages due to discrimination is just as severe as $100,000 in lost 
wages due to a wage-and-hour violation.
    Third, the Department considers it appropriate to give greater 
weight to those violations that "detrimentally impact the working 
conditions of all or nearly all the workforce at a worksite." 80 FR 
30574, 30590. When unlawful conduct causes negative impact that is 
widespread in scope, additional weight is warranted.
    Finally, in response to employee groups' concerns, the Department 
believes that it is unnecessary to state explicitly that a retaliation 
violation involving a constructive discharge should be considered the 
same as a retaliation violation involving a termination. Enforcement 
agencies are responsible for finding violations. The enforcement 
agencies and adjudicatory tribunals--not ALCAs--decide whether a 
constructive discharge amounts to an unlawful termination. The 
Department also finds it unnecessary to characterize all violations 
involving an interference with protected rights as violations of 
particular gravity. The list of violations of particular gravity is not 
an exclusive list, and the Department does not intend to limit an 
ALCA's ability to describe a violation as one of particular gravity 
where the facts of the case merit such a description.

C. Advice Regarding a Contractor's Record of Labor Law Compliance (Step 
Three)

    In the final Guidance, the Department creates a new subheading for 
the discussion of an ALCA's advice to contracting officers and the 
relationship of labor compliance agreements to that process. The core 
parameters of this process are defined in the FAR rule. The Department 
has modified the description of the advice process in the Guidance to 
conform to the structure in the rule. The Department received many 
comments about this process. Because these comments and the reasons for 
changes to the proposed FAR rule are discussed in the preamble to the 
final FAR rule, they are not included here.
    While the FAR rule governs the advice process, the Department and 
its individual enforcement agencies play an important role in 
negotiating labor compliance agreements and assisting ALCAs with their 
duties. The Order instructs contracting officers to consult with ALCAs 
about Labor Law violations and labor compliance agreements during the 
preaward responsibility determination and also during the postaward 
period when considering whether to take actions such as the exercise of 
an option on a contract. Order, section 2(a)(iii), (b)(ii). The Order 
directs ALCAs to provide this advice in consultation with the 
Department or other relevant enforcement agencies. Id. section 
3(d)(ii). As a result, the Department has expanded its discussion of 
labor compliance agreements in the final Guidance and addresses 
relevant comments below.
Summary of the "Advice and Analysis" Component of the Final FAR Rule
    The final FAR rule discusses the written advice and analysis that 
an ALCA provides to the contracting officer for use in the 
responsibility determination. FAR 22.2004-2(b)(3). The rule provides 
that ALCAs may make one of several recommendations, including that a 
labor compliance agreement is necessary, the appropriate timing for 
negotiations of an agreement, and whether notification of the agency 
suspending and debarring official is appropriate. Id. Contracting 
officers consider advice provided by ALCAs along with advice provided 
by other subject matter experts.
    The ALCA's advice and analysis must also include the number of 
Labor Law violations; their classification as serious, repeated, 
willful, and/or pervasive; any mitigating factors or remedial measures; 
and any additional information that the ALCA finds to be relevant. FAR 
22.2004-2(b)(4). If the ALCA concludes that a labor compliance 
agreement or other appropriate action is warranted, then the written 
analysis must include a supporting rationale. See id.
Timeframe for ALCA Advice and Analysis
    The FAR Council's proposed rule set out a 3-day period for ALCAs to 
provide contracting officers with recommendations about the 
contractor's record of Labor Law compliance. The Department received 
many comments expressing concern that this timeframe is infeasible and 
will lead to unfair responsibility determinations. Commenters 
representing both employers and employees commented that in some cases 
ALCAs will have to review a large amount of information to make their 
recommendations. One union, in a representative comment, argued that 
while 3 days may be enough in many cases, this timeframe would be too 
short when an ALCA's recommendation involves weighing existing labor 
compliance agreements; high severity violations; or multiple willful, 
pervasive, or repeated violations.
    The proposed rule suggested that contracting officers would be 
permitted to make a responsibility determination without input from an 
ALCA if the ALCA failed to make a recommendation within the 3-day 
period. Some employer organizations speculated that the contracting 
officer might delay the contract award while waiting for the ALCA 
recommendation, regardless of the authority to act independently; or, 
if he or she does act independently, the contracting officer might make 
a determination inconsistent with other contracting officers, 
contracting agencies, or ALCAs.
    These comments are addressed in the preamble to the final FAR rule 
and therefore are not addressed here. In brief, the final FAR rule 
retains the default 3-day period for an ALCA to provide advice. See FAR 
22.2004-2(b)(2)(i). It also retains the possibility for the contracting 
officer to provide the ALCA with "another time period" for submitting 
the advice. See id. And it retains the requirement that if the 
contracting officer has not received timely advice, the contracting 
officer must proceed with the responsibility determination using 
available information and business judgment. See id. 22.2004-
2(b)(5)(iii).
De Facto Debarment
    Members of Congress and industry advocates also expressed concern 
that the short timeframe for ALCA advice may lead to "de facto" 
debarment of contractors that have been subject to a prior 
nonresponsibility determination. "De facto debarment occurs when a 
contractor has, for all practical purposes, been suspended or 
blacklisted from working with a government agency without due process, 
namely, adequate notice and a meaningful hearing." Phillips v. Mabus, 
894 F.Supp.2d 71, 81 (D.D.C.2012). These commenters suggested that 
contracting officers might try to save time and effort by improperly 
following earlier determinations without conducting their own 
assessments. This, the commenters suggested, would result in effectively 
"blacklisting" certain companies from Federal contracting.
    De facto debarment may occur where a contracting agency effectively 
avoids the due process requirements of a debarment hearing by instead 
repeatedly finding a contractor nonresponsible and denying individual 
contracts based on one initial nonresponsibility determination. See 
generally Old Dominion Dairy Prods., Inc. v. Sec'y of Def., 631 F.2d 
953 (D.C. Cir. 1980). A single nonresponsibility determination is 
insufficient to establish a de facto debarment. Redondo-Borges v. U.S. 
Dep't of Hous. & Urban Dev., 421 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir. 2005). However, 
because an initial nonresponsibility determination based on a lack of 
integrity or business ethics must be recorded in the Federal Awardee 
Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS), see FAR 9.105-
2(b), and contracting officers must review FAPIIS during each 
subsequent responsibility determination, id. 9.104-6(b), a risk of de 
facto debarment is inherent in the existing Federal procurement 
system--and contracting agencies, OMB, and the Office of Federal 
Procurement Policy must continually guard against it.
    The Department disagrees with the commenters that the Order and the 
related structure of the FAR rule present an unreasonable risk of de 
facto debarment. The Department agrees that it would be inappropriate 
for an ALCA to base his or her advice and analysis solely on a prior 
analysis of a contractor's Labor Law compliance record. However, the 
FAR requires contracting officers--with the assistance of ALCAs--to 
make independent decisions in every case based on the information 
provided by contractors during the respective solicitation process. See 
generally FAR 22.2004-2.
Circumstances Warranting Negotiation of a Labor Compliance Agreement
    The Department received several comments that the proposed rule and 
Proposed Guidance did not clearly specify when an ALCA and a 
contracting officer will require a contractor to negotiate a labor 
compliance agreement. One employer organization argued that determining 
whether an agreement is necessary or sufficient calls for subjective 
decisions by ALCAs. The organization also expressed concern that labor 
unions might use labor compliance agreements to pressure employers 
while negotiating neutrality or collective bargaining agreements.
    Numerous worker-advocacy organizations commented that a labor 
compliance agreement should be required as a condition of receiving a 
contract, especially if the employer has "violations of particular 
concern," as they are described in the Proposed Guidance. Several 
commenters proposed that a labor compliance agreement should always be 
required when a contractor violates the Labor Laws during the 
performance of a Federal contract, unless the ALCA determines that the 
violation is minor, old, or unlikely to recur after a long period of 
time.
    The Department has carefully considered these comments and has 
included additional language discussing when it is appropriate for an 
ALCA to recommend that a labor compliance agreement is warranted. See 
Guidance, section III(C)(1). A labor compliance agreement may be 
warranted where the ALCA has concluded that a contractor has an 
unsatisfactory record of Labor Law compliance. Id. section III(C)(1). 
This may be the case where the contractor has serious, repeated, 
willful, and/or pervasive Labor Law violations that are not outweighed 
by mitigating factors--but the ALCA identifies a pattern of conduct or 
policies that could be addressed through preventative actions. Where 
this is the case, the contractor's record of Labor Law violations 
demonstrates a risk to the contracting agency of repeated violations 
during contract performance, but these risks may be mitigated through 
the implementation of appropriate enhanced compliance measures. A labor 
compliance agreement also may be warranted where the contractor 
presently has a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance, but there 
are also clear risk factors present, and a labor compliance agreement 
would reduce these risk factors and demonstrate steps to maintain Labor 
Law compliance during contract performance.
    A labor compliance agreement is not needed where a contractor has 
no Labor Law violations within the 3-year disclosure period or has no 
violations that meet the definitions of serious, repeated, willful, or 
pervasive. A labor compliance agreement may also not be needed where 
the contractor does have violations that meet the definitions of 
serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive, but under the totality of the 
circumstances the existence of the violations is outweighed by 
mitigating factors or other relevant information.
    Finally, there are circumstances in which a contractor may have an 
unsatisfactory record of Labor Law compliance, but a labor compliance 
agreement is not warranted--and instead the agency suspending and 
debarring official should be notified. This is the case where the 
contractor has serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive Labor Law 
violations that are not outweighed by mitigating factors--and, in 
addition, there are indications that a labor compliance agreement would 
not be successful in reducing the risk of future noncompliance. The 
final Guidance contains examples that illustrate when this may be the 
case.
    However, the Department disagrees with the commenters--both 
industry and worker-advocacy groups--that argued that the final 
Guidance should further limit the discretion of contracting officers 
and ALCAs. Contracting officers and ALCAs must have the ability to 
review all relevant facts concerning Labor Law violations and 
mitigating factors, and to make determinations as to when agreements 
are appropriate. As discussed above, ALCAs and contracting officers are 
provided with robust parameters for making this underlying 
determination--from the FAR and the Guidance, and also through 
consultation with the enforcement agencies.
    Moreover, the Department specifically declines to adopt the 
employee advocate suggestion that a labor compliance agreement is 
always warranted where a contractor has a "violation of particular 
concern." As discussed above in section III(B) (Weighing Labor Law 
violations and mitigating factors) of this section-by-section analysis, 
the Department has clarified that it did not intend for ALCAs to make 
specific findings that violations are "violations of particular 
concern." Rather, the analysis requires a weighing process, where 
certain factors will weigh in favor of an overall conclusion that a 
contractor has a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance, and 
others will weigh against. Thus, it is not appropriate to tie advice 
about the need for a labor compliance agreement to existence of any one 
of these factors.
Negotiation of a Labor Compliance Agreement
    The Department notes that some commenters may have incorrectly 
understood that ALCAs or contracting officers would negotiate labor 
compliance agreements directly with contractors. The final FAR rule and 
the final Guidance clarify that it is enforcement agencies--not ALCAs 
or contracting officers--who negotiate labor compliance agreements. The 
Guidance provides additional detail on the roles and duties of each of 
these actors--ALCAs, contracting officers, and enforcement agencies--with 
regard to determining the need for and negotiation of labor compliance 
agreements.
    The ALCA conducts a holistic review of the circumstances 
surrounding the contractor's Labor Law violations, including any 
mitigating factors. Guidance, sections III(A) (classification step), 
III(B) (weighing step). If the ALCA concludes that a contractor has an 
unsatisfactory record of Labor Law compliance, the ALCA will consider 
whether the negotiation of a labor compliance agreement may be 
warranted. After that, the ALCA produces a written advice and analysis 
for the contracting officer. Id. section III(C) (advice and analysis 
step).
    If the ALCA assessment indicates a labor compliance agreement is 
warranted, the contracting officer provides written notice to the 
contractor. FAR 22.2004-2(b)(7). The notice includes the name of the 
enforcement agency with which the contractor should confer regarding 
the negotiation of the agreement. Id. The contractor and the 
enforcement agency may then initiate negotiations. Any resulting labor 
compliance agreement will be an agreement between that enforcement 
agency and the contractor.
Labor Compliance Agreements as a Mitigating Factor
    In its discussion of remediation as a mitigating factor, the 
Proposed Guidance stated that enhanced settlement agreements and labor 
compliance agreements between a contractor and an enforcement agency 
represent important ways to mitigate the weight of a Labor Law 
violation. The Proposed Guidance noted that entering into a labor 
compliance agreement indicates that the contractor recognizes the 
importance that the Federal Government places on compliance with the 
Labor Laws.
    Industry commenters criticized how the Proposed Guidance addressed 
the relationship between mitigating factors and labor compliance 
agreements. Several stated that requiring such agreements raised due 
process and fairness concerns. They asserted that a contractor may feel 
pressured to negotiate or sign a labor compliance agreement and forgo a 
challenge to a nonfinal administrative merits determination in order to 
receive a pending contract. Several employer organizations argued that 
labor compliance agreements would unfairly penalize contractors by 
subjecting them to multiple rounds of remedial requirements in response 
to the same underlying conduct.
    The Department declines to change the Guidance in response to the 
criticisms discussed above. The Department notes that considering labor 
compliance agreements in the mitigating factor analysis is consistent 
with the Order and the FAR rule. See Order, section 2(a)(ii); FAR 
22.2004-2(b)(3)-(4). Labor compliance agreements may contain remedial 
measures (such as the payment of back wages) or enhanced compliance 
measures (such as the implementation of new safety-and-health 
programs). When implemented outside of the context of a labor 
compliance agreement, these types of measures are individually 
mitigating factors. It is therefore reasonable to consider a labor 
compliance agreement containing such measures also to be a mitigating 
factor.
    The Department disagrees that labor compliance agreements raise due 
process concerns. As the Department has clarified in the final 
Guidance, in appropriate circumstances contractors may enter into labor 
compliance agreements while at the same time continuing to contest an 
underlying Labor Law violation. And, if a contractor and a contracting 
officer disagree about whether a labor compliance agreement is 
necessary and the contractor refuses to negotiate an agreement, the 
existing procurement process provides ample opportunity to contest any 
resulting nonresponsibility determination. The contractor can bring a 
bid protest and receive a hearing and judicial review of the agency 
action.
    The Department also disagrees with the argument that labor 
compliance agreements will unfairly penalize contractors. The purpose 
of a labor compliance agreement is not to penalize a contractor for 
past violations; it is to protect the Federal Government's interest in 
economy and efficiency in the prospective contract at issue. As 
discussed above, Federal agencies have a duty to contract only with 
responsible sources, and a track record of Labor Law violations raises 
serious questions about whether a contractor can be trusted to comply 
with Labor Laws--or with other non-labor laws--during the course of 
contract performance. Labor compliance agreements provide contractors 
that are otherwise at risk of being found nonresponsible with an 
additional opportunity to take the steps necessary to assure 
contracting officers that their past noncompliance will not be repeated 
during contract performance. Thus, they are properly understood as an 
opportunity for contractors, not a penalty.
Duration of a Labor Compliance Agreement
    One employer organization commented that contractors needed more 
information about the procedural aspects of labor compliance 
agreements. One question this commenter raised is how long labor 
compliance agreements will last.
    The Department declines to specify a set duration for labor 
compliance agreements. In general, the duration of an agreement will be 
the subject of negotiations between the contractor and the enforcement 
agency--and the enforcement agency will take a position regarding the 
appropriate length of agreement based on the facts and circumstances of 
the case and that agency's current practices in negotiating enhanced 
compliance agreements. However, the extent to which a labor compliance 
agreement extends beyond the expected duration of the contract will not 
be taken into consideration in determining a contractor's 
responsibility or in other decisions related to the contract at issue.
Elements of a Labor Compliance Agreement
    Several unions and worker groups proposed that the Guidance should 
require that all labor compliance agreements contain a prescribed list 
of elements. Suggestions included (1) remedies for any labor law 
violation; (2) notice and training for workers about the labor 
compliance agreement and instructions for reporting violations; (3) a 
plan to prevent future violations; (4) an agreement that the contractor 
will self-report any alleged violations of the agreement; and (5) 
enforceable safeguards to prevent employer retaliation against 
employees who lodge complaints.
    The Department does not agree that it should prescribe the content 
of labor compliance agreements. The enforcement agencies, which will 
negotiate labor compliance agreements, will determine the terms of each 
labor compliance agreement on a case-by-case basis, taking into 
consideration the totality of the circumstances.
Remedial Measures To Be Included in Labor Compliance Agreements
    Labor union and worker-advocacy commenters emphasized that labor 
compliance agreements should require employers to take remedial actions 
that would prevent future violations. In contrast, numerous employer 
representatives commented that labor compliance agreements should not 
impose "enhanced compliance" measures--or remedial measures that go beyond 
basic compliance with the requirements of the labor law that has been 
violated. For example, one employer organization raised a question about 
whether an agreement would apply only to the business unit or location with 
the alleged violation--or would apply company-wide. Other commenters raised 
similar concerns that labor compliance agreements might impose remedial 
measures that are broader than remedies that could be imposed by courts 
or enforcement agencies under the Federal labor laws.
    Another employer organization expressed a related point about what 
remedial actions can be expected in labor compliance agreements:

    While we agree that any contractor practices that go above and 
beyond the requirements of the law may constitute evidence of 
remediation or otherwise serve as a mitigating factor, these 
provisions should not be read so as to require remediation efforts 
that exceed the law's requirement simply to get "full credit" for 
remediation.

    The Department agrees with the commenters that assert that labor 
compliance agreements are not limited to providing compensation for 
individual employees, abating a hazard, or changing an unlawful policy. 
Rather, agreements may (and often should) contain additional provisions 
that are directed at ensuring future compliance with the law. The Order 
expressly requires that the contracting officer, when making a 
responsibility determination, must give a contractor with a violation 
the opportunity to disclose "any agreements entered into with an 
enforcement agency." Order, section 2(a)(ii). The ALCA then must 
advise the contracting officer about the need for an agreement to 
implement remedial measures or steps to "avoid further violations." 
Id.
    The requirement that contractors take actions to avoid future 
violations is not new in the Federal contracting process. Because 
contracting with the Federal Government is a privilege and not a right, 
contracting agencies can generally require that contractors meet 
specific conditions in order to receive a contract award. Accordingly, 
Federal contractors already have a duty to implement programs intended 
to prevent some labor law violations. For example, FAR 36.513 Accident 
Prevention requires a contractor to submit a written safety-and-health 
plan for identifying and controlling hazards where work is of a 
hazardous nature. Similarly, under current practice, suspending and 
debarring officials routinely negotiate "administrative agreements" 
that contain exactly the sort of enhanced compliance measures about 
which the industry commenters raised concerns.\76\ By entering into a 
labor compliance agreement, a contractor agrees to take specific 
actions designed to achieve and maintain compliance during the contract 
period; this is not any different than administrative agreements.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \76\ See Office of Management and Budget, M-06-26, "Suspension 
and Debarment, Administrative Agreements, and Compelling Reason 
Determinations" (2006), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/omb/memoranda/fy2006/m06-26.pdf 
("Agencies sometimes enter into administrative agreements... as 
an alternative to suspension or debarment."); Interagency 
Suspension & Debarment Comm., "Report by the Interagency Suspension 
And Debarment Committee on Federal Agency Suspension and Debarment 
Activities for FY 2012 and FY 2013," 10 (2014) ("[T]he use of 
administrative agreements increase the Government's access to 
responsible sources and, thereby, promotes competition in the 
Federal marketplace."); see also Jennifer S. Zucker and Joseph 
Fratarcangeli, "Administrative Compliance Agreements: An Effective 
Tool in the Suspension and Debarment Process," The Army Lawyer 
(Feb. 2005), at 19-24 (describing the content of administrative 
agreements negotiated between the Army and contractors).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition, as commenters' references to "enhanced compliance 
agreements" indicate, the negotiation of preventative measures as part 
of a settlement is also a traditional aspect of both criminal and civil 
law enforcement--of the Labor Laws and otherwise. Enforcement agencies 
such as OSHA, WHD, and OFCCP currently negotiate enhanced compliance 
agreements, including enterprise-wide agreements, as part of the 
settlement of enforcement actions under their respective Labor Laws. In 
sum, the inclusion of preventative measures in labor compliance 
agreements--which are negotiated with these enforcement agencies--is a 
reasonable and well-established mechanism for enforcing the existing 
law and protecting the integrity of the Federal contracting process.
Relationship of Labor Compliance Agreement Terms to the Procurement 
Contract
    Several unions and worker-advocacy organizations proposed that the 
terms of a labor compliance agreement should be incorporated into the 
procurement contract. One commenter stated that the terms of labor 
compliance agreements should operate as mandatory contract clauses that 
are enforceable, whether or not expressly included in the contract 
language. Many worker-advocacy organizations argued that labor 
compliance agreements should provide for specific penalties, including 
contract termination, if the contractor fails to implement agreed-upon 
remedial measures during the contract period. Employer groups also 
suggested that the Guidance delineate the consequences of violating a 
labor compliance agreement.
    The Department notes that final FAR rule does include reference to 
consequences for the breach of a labor compliance agreement. Breach of 
labor compliance agreement during the performance of a contract may 
justify the exercise of contract remedies, such electing not to 
exercise an option, terminating the contract, or notifying the agency 
suspending and debarring official. See FAR 22.2004-3(b)(3)(v)(C), 
(b)(4)(i)(B)(2)-(4). Additionally, where a prospective contractor has 
previously breached a labor compliance agreement, this may justify and 
ALCA's recommendation that the contracting officer could find that the 
contractor has an unsatisfactory record of integrity and business 
ethics and that the suspending and debarring official should be 
notified. See id. 22.2004-3(b)(3)(v); see also Guidance, section 
III(C)(1)(e).
Timing of Negotiation
    Certain unions and employee advocacy organizations argued that if 
the contracting officer determines that a labor compliance agreement is 
necessary in order to establish that an employer can be considered a 
responsible contractor, then the agreement must be fully negotiated 
prior to the award of the contract. These commenters proposed that 
merely engaging in good-faith negotiations should not be considered 
sufficient to overcome a record of Labor Law violations. Rather, they 
suggested that a finalized enforceable remedial agreement should be 
required in order to permit a finding of contractor responsibility. 
SEIU proposed in the alternative that a labor compliance agreement 
should be executed within 2 months of the contract award and if the 
contractor fails to comply, "payments due the contractor under the 
contract should be withheld until [a labor compliance agreement] is 
executed."
    The Department believes these comments address issues outside the 
scope of the Guidance and directs commenters to the preamble to the 
final FAR rule. However, the Department notes that, as discussed above, 
the final FAR rule provides that a contracting officer may require the 
contractor to commit, prior to award, to negotiate a labor compliance 
agreement "in good faith within a reasonable period of time." FAR 
22.2004-2(b)(7)(ii). The contracting officer may also require that the 
contractor negotiate and execute an agreement prior to award. See id. 
22.2004-2(b)(7)(iii). The ALCA is also required, during the performance 
of a contract, to report to the contracting officer whether the contractor 
is continuing to negotiate a labor compliance agreement or whether the 
contractor is adhering to an agreement that has been established. Id. 
22.2004-3(b)(3)(i). The contracting officer then uses this information 
to determine whether to, among other actions, elect to exercise an 
option on the contract. Id. 22.2004-3(b)(4)(i).
Relationship Between Labor Compliance Agreements and Settlement 
Agreements for Violations Under Litigation
    Several industry commenters raised concerns about the relationship 
between labor compliance agreements and litigation-specific settlements 
for violations. One commenter stated that labor compliance agreements 
could overlap with and contradict provisions of settlement agreements 
that are already in place or administrative agreements reached as part 
of suspension and debarment proceedings.
    One industry group argued that the negotiation process for labor 
compliance agreements could conflict with the Title VII conciliation 
process, citing a recent Supreme Court decision, Mach Mining, LLC v. 
EEOC, 135 S. Ct. 1645 (2015). Mach Mining addressed a statutory 
provision that requires EEOC to conciliate with employers following a 
reasonable cause determination. This commenter argued that the Order 
would remove the determination of good faith negotiation from Federal 
courts and place it in the hands of ALCAs or contracting officers.
    The Department believes that concerns about labor compliance 
agreements conflicting with existing settlements are unwarranted. 
Contractors are encouraged to disclose information about existing 
settlements as a potential mitigating factor in the weighing process. 
In determining whether a labor compliance agreement is necessary, the 
ALCA will consider any preexisting settlement agreement--and recommend 
a labor compliance agreement only where the existing settlement does 
not include measures to prevent future violations.
    In addition, the Department notes that a labor compliance agreement 
is an agreement between a contractor and an enforcement agency. 
Enforcement agencies will know if they previously entered into 
agreements with the contractor and can assure that any labor compliance 
agreement does not conflict with prior agreements.
    Finally, the Department disagrees with the commenter's 
interpretation of Mach Mining. Mach Mining does not apply here because 
a labor compliance agreement is not a conciliation agreement, nor does 
it replace the EEOC's efforts to conciliate. Negotiation of a labor 
compliance agreement is separate and distinct from the conciliation 
process under Title VII.
Public Access to Labor Compliance Agreements, Recommendations, and 
Responsibility Determinations
    Union commenters proposed that the Guidance specify that ALCA 
advice and analysis must be included in a public database, and that 
contracting officers' responsibility determinations, along with the 
reasons on which they are based, also must be made accessible to the 
public. Several also proposed that a contracting officer should be 
required to justify in writing if he or she makes a decision not to 
adopt an ALCA's recommendation that a labor compliance agreement be 
negotiated, and that this explanation should be made available to the 
public.
    Several of these commenters also proposed that labor compliance 
agreements, as well as the contracting officers' responsibility 
determinations and ALCA recommendations, should be public documents. 
They stated that labor compliance agreements should be public so that 
employees and other commenters can monitor whether contractors meet 
their obligations under the terms of the agreements.
    The Department declines to adopt the public-disclosure proposal. 
Mechanisms for public access to information on government contracts 
already exist, including the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 
USAspending.gov, and the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity 
Information System (FAPIIS)--a government database that tracks 
contractor misconduct and performance. FAPIIS will indicate where a 
contractor has entered into a labor compliance agreement. In addition, 
the enforcement agencies that negotiate labor compliance agreements 
have the discretion to make the agreements themselves publicly 
available.
    However, the Department notes that the final FAR rule does require 
the contracting officer to document in the contract file how he or she 
has taken into account an ALCA's recommendation and analysis--including 
whether a labor compliance agreements is warranted--in making the 
responsibility determination for the award. See FAR 22.2004-
2(b)(5)(ii). In addition, the final FAR rule also states that where a 
contractor enters into a labor compliance agreement, the entry will be 
noted in FAPIIS by the ALCA and the fact that a labor compliance 
agreement has been agreed to will be public information. Id. 22.2004-
2(b)(9). The Department has added reference to this procedure in 
section II(C)(3) of the Guidance.
Other Criticism of Labor Compliance Agreements
    One employer advocate, in a representative comment, stated that the 
use of labor compliance agreements forces contractors to defend 
themselves in multiple forums on the same issues. Other employer 
organizations commented that the use of labor compliance agreements 
would deter businesses from seeking Federal contracts because they will 
add another layer of negotiation and uncertainty.
    The Department has carefully considered these comments but does not 
modify the Guidance in response. Labor compliance agreements will 
enable contractors with a significant record of Labor Law violations, 
who might not otherwise be considered responsible, to obtain government 
contracts. Thus, as discussed above, labor compliance agreements are 
properly viewed as expanding opportunity and not imposing additional 
burdens. With regard to the question of competition, the commenters 
have not provided any objective evidence to support their statement 
that the use of labor compliance agreements would deter, rather than 
encourage, participation in Federal contracting. And, the Department 
also received comments from employee representatives stating that the 
Order's requirement that remedial measures be put in place through 
labor compliance agreements will enhance fair competition. These 
commenters argued that law-abiding contractors are currently deterred 
from seeking government business because they believe they will be 
underbid by unscrupulous contractors. The Department believes that the 
final FAR rule's inclusion of a structure for labor compliance 
agreements can only benefit competition by allowing contractors that 
might otherwise be barred from contracting--either through an 
individual nonresponsibility determination, suspension, or debarment--a 
path to responsibility instead.

IV. Postaward Disclosure and Assessment of Labor Law Violations

    The Order requires contractors that made initial preaward 
disclosures of Labor Law violation information to update that 
information semiannually during performance of the covered procurement 
contract. Order, section 2(b). Where new Labor Law violation
information is disclosed or otherwise brought to the attention of the 
contracting officer, the Order requires the contracting officer to 
consider whether action is necessary--including agreements requiring 
appropriate remedial measures or remedies such as decisions not to 
exercise an option on a contract, contract termination, or referral to 
the agency suspending and debarring official. Id. section 2(b)(ii). The 
Proposed Guidance referenced these provisions of the Order, and 
explained that postaward disclosures should include both (a) any new 
Labor Law decisions rendered since the last disclosure and (b) updates 
to previously disclosed information. 80 FR 30574, 30581.
Disclosure Update Requirements
    The Department received a number of comments discussing the Order's 
postaward disclosure requirements. In general, employee-advocacy 
organizations approved of the requirements and urged the Department to 
strengthen them--particularly with regard to the consequences of 
violating a labor compliance agreement. In contrast, several industry 
commenters expressed concern that the semiannual, postaward disclosure 
requirement is unduly burdensome. These commenters suggested 
elimination of the requirement entirely.
    The Department does not amend the Guidance to eliminate the 
postaward disclosure requirement. The final FAR rule has implemented 
this requirement in section 22.2004-3 of the FAR, and created a 
contract clause that incorporates these requirements into covered 
contracts, see id. 55.222-59(b). The Department agrees that this 
requirement is appropriate, because the Order expressly mandates 
postaward disclosures. See Order, section 2(b).
    The Department also received multiple comments from industry groups 
requesting clarification about the timing of postaward disclosure and 
whether each contract would have its own disclosure cycle based on the 
date of each award. Some of these commenters asserted that companies 
with multiple Federal contracts would have an onerous reporting burden 
because the Order and the proposals will require such companies to 
constantly make disclosures. They proposed alternative ways to schedule 
their disclosure requirements; in particular, they suggested that the 
Department establish a unified, fixed-date disclosure schedule as 
opposed to reporting on the anniversary of each contract award.
    The Department notes that the timing of postaward disclosures is a 
question that is resolved in the FAR rule. In response to similar 
comments, the final FAR rule provides the flexibility requested by 
commenters, allowing the contractor to use any date that it chooses 
before the six-month anniversary date of the award. FAR 22.2004-
3(a)(2). The Department has included this clarified language in the 
Guidance.
Postaward Assessment of Labor Law Violations
    Some industry commenters expressed concern that it would be 
disruptive to find a contractor nonresponsible in the middle of the 
performance of a contract based on a violation that is disclosed 
postaward. Similarly, other industry commenters were critical of using 
postaward violations as a basis for terminating a contract that was 
otherwise being properly and timely performed. These commenters argued 
that such information should only be used in connection with a 
contracting officer's consideration of whether to exercise an option to 
extend the contract.
    The consideration of appropriate postaward actions is within the 
jurisdiction of the FAR Council, and the Department has deferred to the 
treatment of these issues in the final FAR rule. Under the final rule, 
the ALCA will follow a similar assessment process for postaward 
disclosures as for preaward disclosures. See FAR 22.2004-3(b)(3). The 
ALCA assesses the information disclosed and provides analysis and 
advice to the contracting officer regarding, among other questions, 
whether violations should be considered serious, repeated, willful, 
and/or pervasive, see id. 22.2004-3(b)(3)(i); and whether the 
contractor is adequately adhering to any labor compliance agreements, 
see id. 22.2004-3(b)(3)(v)(C). The contracting officer may then take no 
action and continue the contract, or may exercise one or more contract 
remedies under existing FAR regulations and procedures. FAR 22.2004-
3(b)(4).
    The Department believes that the FAR Council's rule appropriately 
implements the plain language of the Order requiring postaward 
consideration of the specified contract remedies. The Order expressly 
includes various appropriate remedies, including contract termination. 
Order, section 2(b)(ii). The Department notes that the Order and the 
final rule do not deviate in any significant way from what the FAR 
otherwise requires when a contracting officer receives information 
during contract performance that implicates a contractor's 
responsibility.

V. Subcontractor Responsibility

    The Department has re-organized the discussions of subcontractor 
responsibility that appeared in several locations of the Proposed 
Guidance into a new section V of the final Guidance. The Department 
received several comments about the extent of subcontracts covered by 
the Order, the method of subcontractor disclosure, and the assessment 
by prime contractors of their subcontractors' responsibility. These 
comments are discussed in turn below.
Covered Subcontracts
    The Proposed Guidance described "covered subcontracts" as 
including subcontracts for commercial items, but, as prescribed by the 
Order, excluding those for commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) 
items. As discussed above in section II(A) of this section-by-section 
analysis, one industry commenter suggested that all commercial item 
contracts--and especially commercial item subcontracts--should be 
excluded from the Order's disclosure requirements. The commenter 
asserted that there is no basis for distinguishing between contracts 
for COTS items and contracts for commercial items.\77\ In the 
alternative, the commenter suggested that coverage of commercial item 
subcontracts be delayed 5 years.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \77\ Another commenter, Ogletree Deakins, asked a specific 
question about the definition of COTS items. The law firm stated 
that a construction company client "is of the opinion that its 
construction materials qualify as COTS items" and "seeks 
confirmation" from the Department that this opinion is correct. In 
response, the Department notes that Order does not require the 
Department to provide guidance regarding the definition of COTS 
items. The Department, however, interprets the use of "commercially 
available off-the-shelf items" in the Order as subject to the 
definition of that term in the FAR. See Order, section 2(a)(iv); FAR 
2.101.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department declines to adopt the commenter's suggestions. As 
noted above, contract coverage is within the jurisdiction of the FAR 
Council, and the final FAR rule maintains the inclusion of "commercial 
item" subcontracts as proposed. See FAR 52.244-6. The final FAR rule 
also did not adopt the commenter's alternative request that coverage of 
commercial item subcontracts be delayed 5 years. However, in 
recognition of the additional complexity of the prime contractors' 
determination of subcontractor responsibility, the FAR Council has 
delayed implementation of all of the subcontractor disclosure and 
assessment requirements in the Order for an additional year beyond the
effective date of the final rule. See FAR 22.2007(b).
Subcontractor Disclosures
    The Proposed Guidance contemplated that subcontractors would 
disclose Labor Law violations to prime contractors for assessment. See 
80 FR 30577. However, the Proposed Guidance also noted that "the FAR 
Council is considering allowing contractors to direct their 
subcontractors to report violations to the Department, which would then 
assess the violations" (instead of contractors). Id. n.9.
    Various industry commenters raised concerns about the original 
subcontractor disclosure and assessment provision in the Proposed 
Guidance. In a representative form comment, one commenter stated that 
the task of assessing subcontractor responsibility under the Order 
would be overly burdensome for prime contractors, who may have up to 30 
subcontractors for a multimillion dollar contract. Another commenter, 
SAIC, raised a concern with the structure by which subcontractors would 
give violation information to prime contractors on the grounds that the 
subcontractor and the prime may be competitors on the next contract, 
and "competitors should not have access to sensitive information about 
one another."
    In contrast, another commenter objected to the structure of the 
proposed alternative. In a comment made to the FAR Council on the 
proposed FAR rule, the commenter questioned whether there might be 
conflicts of interest if the Department is given the authority to 
assess subcontractor violations. The commenter suggested that a 
conflict could arise because the Department would often be charged with 
classifying and assessing the weight of violations that may be under 
active enforcement or litigation by enforcement agencies within the 
Department; presumably the concern would be that the Department could 
tip the scales in its own ongoing litigation by providing a more 
negative assessment of the subcontractor's record than it might 
otherwise do in order to force the contractor into settling.
    After carefully considering these and other similar comments, the 
FAR Council decided to adopt the proposed alternative structure under 
which subcontractors will be able to make detailed disclosures to the 
Department instead of to prime contractors directly. See FAR 52.222-
59(c)(3)(ii). Pursuant to Order (as amended), the FAR Council has the 
express authority to designate the entity to which subcontractors 
submit disclosure information.
    Under the final FAR rule, upon receiving a subcontractor's 
disclosure, the Department will provide advice that the subcontractor 
provides to the contractor for the contractor's use in the determining 
the subcontractor's responsibility. See FAR 52.222-59(c)(4). 
Ultimately, however, the Order does not change the underlying principle 
in the FAR that it is the prime contractor (and not the Department) 
that has the duty to make a determination that its subcontractors are 
responsible sources. See id. 9.104-1.
    The FAR Council and the Department have carefully considered the 
concern that the structure of the subcontractor responsibility 
assessment would create a conflict of interest, and we have concluded 
that the proposed structure is appropriate. ALCA training will include 
material that addresses prevention of such conflicts of interest. The 
Guidance clarifies that in assessing violations, the Department will 
apply the same Guidance language that ALCAs apply in classifying and 
weighing violations and that any Labor Law decisions from an 
enforcement agency will be evaluated objectively and without regard for 
the enforcement agency's litigation interests. See Guidance, section 
V(B). As the FAR Council notes in its response to this issue, 
administrative decision makers enjoy a presumption of honesty and 
integrity. See Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S. 35, 47 (1975). Moreover, if 
the subcontractor disagrees with the Department about the assessment, 
it may provide an explanation of its disagreement, along with the 
relevant information, to the contractor, FAR 52.222-59(c)(4)(ii)(C)(3), 
and in this situation the contractor may award the subcontract 
notwithstanding the Department's negative assessment, id. 52.222-
59(c)(5).
    In sum, the Department has tracked the FAR rule in the final 
Guidance. The Department believes that the FAR Council's modification 
of the subcontractor responsibility structure will address the above-
described concerns that contractors (and especially small business 
contractors) would find it challenging to assess subcontractors' 
violations. This change will also ensure a greater degree of expertise 
and consistency in assessing subcontractors' Labor Law violations.

VI. Preassessment

    The Proposed Guidance noted that the Department will be available 
to consult with contractors to assist them in fulfilling their 
obligations under the Order, and, specifically, that contractors would 
have the opportunity to receive early guidance before bidding on a 
contract. In this "preassessment," contractors would receive the 
Department's advice as to "whether any of their violations of the 
labor laws are potentially problematic, as well as the opportunity to 
remedy any problems." 80 FR 30575 n.7.
    The Department received few comments specifically addressing 
preassessment. However, several commenters stated that contracting 
agencies must provide enough time for ALCAs to assess the information 
disclosed regarding violations, mitigating circumstances, and remedial 
measures. Many commenters stated that the 3-day timeframe for ALCAs to 
give analysis and advice to contracting officers is insufficient and 
will cause delays in decision-making. The Department believes that the 
preassessment process will help avoid such delays. With regard to 
subcontractor preassessment, AGC stated in its comment that "pre-
approving national subcontractors may be helpful," while noting that 
there are disadvantages to limiting the pool of acceptable 
subcontractors to those that have been pre-approved.
    After considering these comments, the Department has decided that 
there will be a preassessment process whereby contractors may 
voluntarily agree to have their record of Labor Law violations assessed 
by the Department. The preassessment process does not limit the pool of 
contractors in the manner that AGC suggested could be disadvantageous. 
Rather, preassessment will provide contractors with early information 
that their record of Labor Law compliance is satisfactory--and, if that 
is not the case, with information about how to address any issues 
before bidding on a contract. The preassessment process does not 
circumvent or replace the structured preaward disclosure and assessment 
process required by the Order.
    The Guidance now clarifies that the Department's advice during 
preassessment is similar to the analysis that ALCA's provide to 
contracting officers during the preaward assessment process--including 
"advice regarding whether any of the disclosed violations are serious, 
repeated, willful, and/or pervasive; and regarding whether a labor 
compliance agreement is warranted." Guidance, section VI. And, it 
clarifies that if a contractor whose record have been assessed by the 
Department subsequently submits a bid, and the contracting officer 
initiates a responsibility determination of the contractor, the 
contracting officer and the ALCA may rely on the Department's 
assessment that the contractor has a satisfactory record of Labor Law 
compliance unless additional Labor Law violations have been disclosed.

VII. Paycheck Transparency

    Section VII of the Guidance assists agencies in interpreting the 
paycheck transparency provisions of the Order and the FAR rule. The 
purpose of these provisions is to increase transparency in compensation 
information and employment status, which will enhance workers' 
awareness of their rights, promote greater employer compliance with 
Labor Laws, and thereby increase economy and efficiency in government 
contracting.

A. Wage Statement Provisions

    Section 5(a) of the Order requires covered contractors, including 
subcontractors, to provide "all individuals performing work" under 
the contract for whom the contractor must maintain wage records under 
the FLSA, the DBA, the SCA, or equivalent State laws with a 
"document" each pay period containing "information concerning that 
individual's hours worked, overtime hours, pay, and any additions made 
to or deductions made from pay." As the Department noted in the 
Proposed Guidance, this means that a wage statement must be provided to 
every worker subject to the FLSA, all laborers and mechanics subject to 
the DBA, and all service employees covered by the SCA--regardless of 
the contractor's classification of the worker as an employee or 
independent contractor. See 80 FR 30591.
    In the Proposed Guidance, the Department interpreted the term 
"pay" in the Order to mean the total or "gross pay" that is due the 
worker for the pay period. 80 FR 30591. The Proposed Guidance noted 
that additions to gross pay may include bonuses, awards, and shift 
differentials, and that deductions from gross pay may include 
withholding for taxes and for employee contributions to health 
insurance premiums or retirement accounts. 80 FR 30591-30592.
    The Order requires that the wage statement must be issued every pay 
period and contain the total number of hours worked in the pay period 
and any overtime hours worked, among other information. Order, section 
5(a). In those cases where the wage statement is not provided weekly 
and is instead provided bi-weekly or semi-monthly, the FAR Council's 
proposed rule provided that the hours worked and overtime hours 
detailed in the wage statement be broken down to correspond to the 
period for which overtime is actually calculated and paid (which will 
almost always be weekly). 80 FR 30571.
    The Proposed Guidance suggested that if the contractor regularly 
provides documents to workers electronically, the wage statement may be 
provided electronically if the worker can access it through a computer, 
device, system, or network provided or made available by the 
contractor. 80 FR 30591. The FAR Council proposed the requirement that, 
if a significant portion of the contractor's workforce is not fluent in 
English, the contractor must provide the wage statements in English and 
the language(s) in which the significant portion(s) of the workforce is 
fluent. 80 FR 30572.
    The Department received many comments regarding the different 
aspects of the proposed wage-statement requirements discussed above. 
Employee advocates generally supported the Order's wage-statement 
provisions.\78\ Employer organizations, on the other hand, commented 
that the wage-statement provisions are overly burdensome and in 
addition made several specific suggestions and objections. The 
Department addresses these comments below.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \78\ The Department received many comments generally supporting 
the paycheck transparency provisions, including more than 1,700 
comments submitted by the National Women's Law Center (NWLC).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Rate of Pay
    Several unions and employee advocacy organizations suggested that 
contractors should be required to include in the wage statement: (a) 
The worker's rate of pay, (b) hours and earnings at the basic rate, and 
(c) hours and earnings at the overtime rate. In their view, these would 
allow "a worker to fully understand the basis for his or her net 
pay." They argued that the term "pay" in the Order should be defined 
to include both the worker's regular rate of pay and the total amount 
of pay for the pay period. SEIU noted that several States, including 
Alaska, California, New York, and Hawaii, already require rate-of-pay 
information in wage statements, "demonstrating the reasonableness of 
this requirement." The Midwest Region Foundation for Fair Contracting 
and the Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts suggested that 
the wage statement should include the "overtime rate of pay and hours 
calculated," reasoning that the "rate of pay alone is not sufficient 
for a worker to calculate his or her overtime hours[.]" The Center for 
American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) and SEIU also suggested that the 
Guidance "should make clear that the terms used in the paycheck 
transparency provisions have the same meaning as they do under the 
FLSA."
    In response to similar comments, the FAR Council has included in 
its final rule that rate-of-pay is a required element on the wage 
statement. See FAR 52.222-60(b)(1)(iii). The Department has modified 
the final Guidance accordingly. The Department believes that this 
decision accords with the plain text of the Order, which states that 
the wage statement must contain the worker's "pay." Order, section 
5(a). As the commenters above noted, the term "pay" can and should be 
defined to include both "gross pay" and "rate of pay."
    The Department believes that a worker's rate of pay is a crucial 
piece of information that should appear in the wage statement, because 
a worker's knowledge of his or her rate of pay enables the worker to 
more easily determine whether all wages due have been paid. Inclusion 
of rate of pay in wage statements will therefore reduce the time an 
employer spends resolving pay disputes because workers will have 
available the information on which his or her pay was determined, and 
be able to identify any problems at an earlier date. By aiding in the 
early identification of problems, including rate of pay in the wage 
statement will help to implement the Order's purpose of reducing 
execution delays and avoiding distractions and complications that arise 
from Labor Law noncompliance during the course of contract performance. 
See Order, section 1. All parties have an interest in ensuring workers 
receive their full pay when it is earned--including contractors 
themselves, who benefit from fair competition, employee satisfaction, 
and reduced liability for damages resulting from unpaid wages.
    Also, in most cases, contractors compute gross pay by multiplying 
the regular hours worked by the worker's rate of pay and, in overtime 
workweeks, by also multiplying the overtime hours worked by time-and-
one-half of the rate of pay. As contractors cannot compute the worker's 
earnings without the rate-of-pay information, workers similarly cannot 
easily determine how their earnings are computed without inclusion of 
the rate-of-pay information in the wage statement.
    Moreover, the relevant laws already require that the employer keep 
a record of the rate of pay. As one employee-advocacy organization 
pointed out, an employer must maintain a record of a non-exempt 
employee's rate of pay under the FLSA. See 29 CFR 516.2(a)(6)(i). A 
requirement to keep rate-of-pay information also applies to SCA-covered 
contracts, see 29 CFR 4.6(g)(1)(ii), and to DBA-covered contracts, see 
29 CFR 5.5(a)(3)(i).\79\ In addition, a number of States currently require the 
worker's rate of pay to be included in wage statements.\80\ Contractors 
located in one of these States already are including the rate of pay in 
the wage statements that they provide. Therefore, including this 
information in the wage statement helps to realize the purposes of the 
Order with limited burden to contractors.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \79\ In general, for DBA and SCA, the basic hourly rate listed 
in the wage determination is considered the rate of pay that is to 
be included in the wage statement. Under the FLSA, the regular 
hourly rate of pay is determined by dividing the employee's total 
remuneration (except statutory exclusions) by total hours worked in 
the workweek. See 29 CFR 778.109.
    \80\ States that currently require rate of pay information to be 
included in wage statements are: Alaska, California, Colorado, 
Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North 
Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. 
This list is not the list of "Substantially Similar Wage Payment 
States" that the Order requires the Department to identify. As 
discussed below, whether a State law is substantially similar 
requires consideration of all of the required elements in a wage 
statement--not simply rate of pay.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The rate of pay information on the wage statement will most often 
be the regular hourly rate of pay. If the worker is not paid by the 
hour, the rate of pay information should reflect the basis of pay by 
indicating the monetary amount paid on a per-day, per-week, per-piece, 
or other basis. See FAR 52.222-60(b)(1)(iii). This information is 
required to be kept by the employer for non-exempt employees under the 
FLSA, and would allow the worker to recognize any underpayments. See 29 
CFR 516.2(a)(6)(i)-(ii), 778.109.
    The Department, however, believes that it is not essential for the 
overtime rate of pay to be included in the wage statement. For example, 
in order to check the accuracy of the wages paid in weeks when overtime 
hours are worked, a worker can generally perform the following 
calculation: (1) The rate of pay multiplied by 40 hours equals regular 
earnings; (2) rate of pay multiplied by 1.5 equals the overtime rate of 
pay; (3) overtime rate of pay multiplied by the overtime hours worked 
equal overtime earnings; and (4) regular earnings plus overtime 
earnings equals gross pay. The inclusion of the overtime rate of pay in 
the wage statement would only slightly simplify this calculation for 
the worker by eliminating step two. In most situations, once the worker 
knows his or her rate of pay, the worker can readily determine what the 
overtime pay rate should be by simply multiplying the rate of pay by 
time and one half (by a factor of 1.5).
    In addition, the FLSA, SCA, and DBA regulations do not require 
contractors to keep a record of the overtime pay rate in their payroll 
records.\81\ Similarly, with some exceptions, State laws generally do 
not require that the overtime rate of pay be included in wage 
statements. Therefore, requiring the overtime rate of pay in the wage 
statement would be a new burden on contractors and, as discussed above, 
having the overtime pay-rate information in the wage statement does not 
significantly improve the worker's ability to determine whether the 
correct wages were paid.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \81\ Of the three Federal statutes referenced in section 5(a) of 
the Order, only the FLSA requires the payment of overtime; however, 
the FLSA recordkeeping regulations do not require the contractor to 
maintain overtime rates of pay on payroll records. The FLSA 
regulations do require a supplemental record documenting the 
overtime pay calculation. See 29 CFR 516.6(a)(2). The DBA and SCA do 
not contain an overtime pay provision and, as a result, the 
regulations governing these statutes make no reference to listing 
overtime rates of pay on payroll records. See 29 CFR 5.5(a)(3)(i) 
and 5.32(a) for DBA; 29 CFR 4.6(g) and 4.180 for SCA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With regard to SEIU's comment that the Guidance should make clear 
that the terms used in the Order's paycheck transparency provision 
should be given the same meaning as in the FLSA, the Department agrees 
with this comment to the extent the FLSA provides relevant meaning and 
context to the terms in the Order's paycheck transparency provisions. 
The Department has cited to the FLSA regulations where applicable.
2. Itemizing Additions to and Deductions From Wages
    Employee advocates urged the Department to require contractors to 
itemize additions to and deductions from wages in the wage statement. 
SEIU stated that there should be "no lump sums for additions or 
deductions." The AFL-CIO urged the Department to require contractors 
to "itemize the contributions for fringe benefits and identify each 
plan or fund to which such contributions are being paid." NABTU noted 
that a number of States require contractors to itemize in this manner 
in the certified payroll records that are filed with the State. The 
Indiana-Illinois-Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting (Foundation for 
Fair Contracting) suggested that wage statements required by the Order 
should include the hourly fringe benefit rates, the name and address of 
each fringe benefit fund, and the plan sponsor and administrator of 
each fringe benefit plan, if applicable. Foundation for Fair 
Contracting noted that the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act requires 
contractors on public-works projects to submit certified payrolls that 
contain such information.
    In response to similar comments, the FAR Council has included in 
its final rule the requirement that additions and deductions to gross 
pay must be itemized in the wage statement. See FAR 52.222-60(b)(1)(v). 
Accordingly, the final Guidance clarifies that additions and deductions 
must be itemized.
    The Department agrees that it is appropriate to require itemization 
of additions and deductions. Section 5(a) of the Order provides that 
the wage statement should, among other items, include "any additions 
made to or deductions made from pay." The Order, therefore, already 
contemplates that any and all additions or deductions be separately 
noted in the wage statement; in other words, the wage statement must 
itemize or identify each addition or deduction, and not merely provide 
a lump sum for the total additions and deductions.
    The Department notes that the relevant FLSA regulations require 
covered employers to maintain records regarding the nature of each type 
of addition to or deduction from gross wages. For instance, besides 
having to record the total additions to or deductions from wages, the 
FLSA regulations at 29 CFR 516.2(a)(10) also require covered employers 
to maintain records for non-exempt employees of the dates, amounts, and 
nature of the items which make up the total additions and deductions. 
Also, both DBA and SCA regulations require covered contractors to 
maintain a record of deductions from wages paid. See 29 CFR 
5.5(a)(3)(i), 4.6(g)(1)(iv).\82\ Because these statutes already require 
contractors to maintain a record of any additions or deductions, 
requiring contractors to provide the same itemized information to 
workers in the wage statement will not be overly burdensome.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \82\ Optional form WH-347 that is typically used by contractors 
and subcontractors on Federal or federally-aided construction-type 
contracts and subcontracts to submit weekly certified payrolls, for 
instance, lists deductions from the worker's gross pay.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department did not receive comments specifically objecting to 
the itemization of additions or deductions. Many States currently 
require itemized deductions to be included in wage statements.\83\ 
Contractors working in one of these States are already including itemized 
deductions from gross pay in the wage statements that they provide. 
The Department thus believes that it is reasonable to presume that 
contractors who already furnish wage statements usually provide information 
identifying any additions or deductions from gross pay.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \83\ States that currently require itemized deductions include: 
Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, 
Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New 
Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, 
Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and 
Wyoming. This list is not the list of "Substantially Similar Wage 
Payment States" that the Order requires the Department to identify. 
As discussed below, whether a State law is substantially similar 
requires consideration of all of the required elements in a wage 
statement--not simply of itemized additions and deductions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moreover, including itemized additions and deductions in the wage 
statement allows workers to determine whether they are paid correctly, 
identify any error, and promptly raise any questions with the 
contractor as necessary. As the Department noted in the Proposed 
Guidance, "[p]roviding a worker with gross pay and all additions to 
and deductions from gross pay will necessarily allow the worker to 
understand the net pay received and how it was calculated." 80 FR 
30592.
    With regard to suggestions by employee advocates that the wage 
statements should identify the name and address of each fringe benefit 
fund, and the plan sponsor and administrator of each fringe benefit 
plan, the Department believes that listing such information in the wage 
statement would be duplicative. Generally, when a worker participates 
in a fringe benefit fund or plan, he or she must complete an enrollment 
form for the fund or plan to become a registered participant in the 
fund or plan. An enrolled or registered worker is given a document with 
the fund or plan contact information including, but not limited to: The 
name of the fund or plan; the fund's or plan's address, contact number, 
and email address; and the amount of the worker's contributions into 
the fund or plan. The worker also receives quarterly earnings 
statements or plan usage statements, as well as a summary of worker 
contributions. See 29 CFR 2520.102-2, .102-3. This information is also 
typically available online via the fund's or plan's Web site. 
Furthermore, the fund or plan contact information is not essential in 
order to understand and calculate the worker's earnings on a pay period 
basis or to timely detect errors in their pay; therefore, the 
Department does not believe that including this information in the 
worker's wage statement is necessary to meet the Order's requirements 
and purposes.
    Foundation for Fair Contracting also requested that the hourly 
fringe-benefit rate be listed in the wage statement. The Department 
does not believe it is essential to include the hourly fringe-benefit 
rate in the wage statement. The amount of the fringe benefit required 
by the DBA or SCA is typically expressed as an hourly rate in the wage 
determinations issued by the Department.\84\ The contractor may pay 
this amount as a contribution to a fringe benefit fund or plan, or in 
"cash" as an addition to the worker's wages. Section 5(a) of the 
Order requires any additions made to gross pay to be listed in the wage 
statement. The Department believes that fringe-benefit amounts paid by 
the contractor into a fund or plan (e.g., health insurance or 
retirement plan) on behalf of the worker should not be considered 
additions to the worker's gross pay for purposes of the Order. Such 
fringe-benefit contributions are excludable from the regular rate for 
purposes of computing overtime pay under the FLSA \85\ and are not 
taxable. Fringe-benefit contributions paid by the contractor on behalf 
of the worker thus do not need to be included in the wage statement, as 
such information has no bearing on determining whether the worker 
received the correct cash wages as reported in the wage statement.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \84\ The wage determination issued under the DBA and SCA that is 
applicable to the contract must be posted by the contractor at the 
site of work in a prominent and accessible place where it can be 
easily seen by the workers. See 29 CFR 5.5(a)(1)(i), 4.6(e). Workers 
therefore have access to fringe benefit rate information, further 
negating the necessity to include the fringe benefit rate amount in 
the wage statement.
    \85\ See 29 U.S.C. 207(e)(4); 29 CFR 778.214, 778.215.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On the other hand, when the contractor elects to meet their fringe 
benefit obligation under the DBA or SCA by paying all or part of the 
stated hourly amount in "cash" to the worker, the payments are 
subject to tax withholdings, and the wage statement should list the 
fringe benefit amounts paid as an addition to the worker's pay.\86\ 
Such amounts are part of gross pay.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \86\ When the fringe benefit (or a portion thereof) is paid in 
cash, that amount is excludable from the regular rate for purposes 
of computing overtime pay. See 29 CFR 4.177(e), 5.32(c)(1).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Information To Be Included in the Wage Statement
    As discussed above, in order to implement the purposes of the 
Order's wage-statement requirement, the final FAR rule has interpreted 
the term "pay" to mean both gross pay and rate of pay. See FAR 
52.222-60(b)(1). And the final rule has clarified that any additions to 
or deductions made from gross pay be itemized or identified in the wage 
statement. See id. The final Guidance, therefore, provides that wage 
statements required under the Order must contain the following 
information: 1) hours worked, 2) overtime hours, 3) rate of pay 
(whether the regular hourly rate of pay or the monetary amount paid on 
a per-day, per-week, per-piece, or other basis), 4) gross pay, and 5) 
an itemization of each addition to or deduction from gross pay. See 
Guidance, section VII(A).\87\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \87\ Nothing prohibits the contractor from including more 
information in the wage statement (e.g., exempt-status notification, 
overtime-pay rate).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. Weekly Accounting of Overtime Hours Worked
    The Department also received comments from industry commenters 
regarding the proposed requirement that if the wage statement is not 
provided weekly and is instead provided bi-weekly or semi-monthly 
(because the pay period is bi-weekly or semi-monthly), that the hours 
worked and overtime hours contained in the wage statement would need to 
be broken down to correspond to the period for which overtime is 
actually calculated and paid (which will almost always be weekly). See 
80 FR 30571 (proposed rule); 80 FR 30591 (Proposed Guidance). Several 
employer representatives stated that contractors generally issue wage 
statements on a bi-weekly basis, and do not separately provide the 
number of hours worked (regular and overtime hours) for the first and 
second workweeks of the bi-weekly pay period. These commenters stated 
that requiring a weekly accounting of regular hours worked (i.e., hours 
worked up to 40 hours) and overtime hours worked in the wage statement 
would be costly to implement and unnecessary.
    The final FAR rule continues to require that "the hours worked and 
overtime hours contained in the wage statement... be broken down to 
correspond to the period (which will almost always be weekly) for which 
overtime is calculated and paid." FAR 52.222-60(b)(2). The Department 
accordingly declines to change the Guidance in response to the comments 
received.
    As the Department discussed in the Proposed Guidance, transparency 
in the relationships between employers and their workers is critical to 
workers' understanding of their legal rights and to the speedy 
resolution of workplace disputes. See 80 FR 30591. The calculation of 
overtime pay on a workweek-by-workweek basis as
required by the FLSA has been a bedrock principle of labor protections 
since 1938. 29 U.S.C. 207(a). A wage statement that is provided bi-
weekly or semi-monthly that does not separately state the hours worked 
during the first workweek from those worked during the second workweek 
of the pay period fails to provide workers with sufficient information 
about their pay to be able to determine if they are being paid 
correctly. For example, a worker who receives a wage statement showing 
80 hours worked during a bi-weekly pay period and all hours paid at the 
regular (straight-time) rate may, in fact, have worked 43 hours the 
first week and 37 hours the second week. In this case, to comply with 
the FLSA, the employer should have paid the worker at time and one half 
of the worker's regular rate of pay for the three hours worked after 40 
hours in the first workweek. Without documentation of the weekly hours, 
it would be difficult for this worker to determine whether overtime pay 
is due.
    The FLSA already requires that employers calculate overtime pay 
after 40 hours worked per week; and the implementing regulations under 
the FLSA, DBA, and SCA require employers to maintain payroll records 
for at least 3 years. Under the FLSA regulations at 29 CFR 516.2(a)(7), 
for instance, an employer must maintain a record of a non-exempt 
employee's total hours worked per week. A requirement to keep records 
of hours worked also applies to SCA-covered contracts, see 29 CFR 
4.6(g)(1)(iii), and to DBA-covered contracts, see 29 CFR 5.5(a)(3)(i). 
Moreover, workers covered under DBA must be paid on a weekly basis 
requiring a workweek-by-workweek accounting of overtime hours worked. 
See 29 CFR 5.5(a)(1)(i). Therefore, including hours worked information 
in the wage statement derived on a workweek basis will not be overly 
burdensome.
5. Electronic Wage Statements
    With regard to providing wage statements electronically, one 
industry commenter agreed that providing wage statements electronically 
should be an option. One labor union, the United Brotherhood of 
Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA), advocated that workers 
should be allowed to access wage statements using the contractor's 
computer network during work hours. According to UBCJA, merely 
providing workers with the Web site address to access their wage 
statements on their own would be insufficient as such an arrangement 
would require the worker to purchase internet connection to access the 
information. One employee advocate suggested that the contractor should 
be allowed to provide wage statements electronically only with written 
permission from the worker and if written instructions on how to access 
the wage statements are provided to the worker.
    The final FAR rule provides that contractors have the option of 
providing wage statements either by paper-format (e.g., paystubs), or 
electronically if the contractor regularly provides documents 
electronically and if the worker can access the document through a 
computer, device, system, or network provided or made available by the 
contractor. FAR 52.222-60(e)(2). The final Guidance accordingly 
provides the same. See Guidance, section VII(A). The Department agrees 
with UBCJA that merely providing workers with a Web site address would 
be insufficient; the contractor must provide the worker with internet 
or intranet access for purposes of viewing this information.
    The Department, however, believes that it is not necessary to 
require contractors to allow workers such access during work hours. The 
Department assumes that employees will, in most cases, access wage 
statements (or other employer-provided documents, such as leave 
statements or tax forms) using the contractor's network or system 
during the workday--including during the worker's rest breaks or meal 
periods. However, the Department believes it is not necessary to 
specifically prescribe a requirement regarding the time period during 
which a wage statement can be accessed.
    The Department also believes that it is not necessary to require 
that workers give consent before receiving the wage statement 
electronically, or to require that workers be given written 
instructions on how to access the wage statement using the contractor's 
computer, device, system, or network. As the Proposed Guidance noted, 
the employer must already be regularly providing documents to workers 
electronically in order to provide wage statements in the same manner. 
See 80 FR 30592. Contractors that already provide documents 
electronically presumably also provide general instructions regarding 
accessing personnel records on their intranet Web pages; therefore, 
additional written instructions specific to accessing the worker's wage 
statement using the contractor's computer, device, network, or system 
is not necessary. Similarly, requiring a written consent by the worker 
is not necessary because the workers for such employers should already 
be familiar with the process for receiving documents electronically.
6. Substantially Similar State Laws
    The Order provides that the wage-statement requirement "shall be 
deemed to be fulfilled" where a contractor "is complying with State 
or local requirements that the Secretary of Labor has determined are 
substantially similar to those required" by the Order. Order, section 
5(a). If a contractor provides a worker in one of these "substantially 
similar" States with a wage statement that complies with the 
requirements of that State, the contractor would satisfy the Order's 
wage-statement requirement. In the Proposed Guidance, the Department 
stated that two requirements do not have to be exactly the same to be 
"substantially similar"; they must, however, share "essential 
elements in common." 80 FR 30587 (quoting Alameda Mall, L.P. v. Shoe 
Show, Inc., 649 F.3d 389, 392 (5th Cir. 2011)). The Proposed Guidance 
offered two options for determining whether State requirements are 
substantially similar to the Order's requirements.
    The first proposed option identified as substantially similar those 
States and localities that require wage statements to have the 
essential elements of overtime hours or earnings, total hours, gross 
pay, and any additions to or deductions made from gross pay. As the 
Proposed Guidance noted, when overtime hours or earnings are disclosed 
in a wage statement, workers can identify from the face of the document 
whether they have been paid for overtime hours. Applying this method, 
the current list of Substantially Similar Wage Payment States would be 
Alaska, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New 
York, and Oregon. See 80 FR 30592.
    The second proposed option would have allowed wage statements to 
omit overtime hours or earnings, as long as the wage statements 
included "rate of pay," in addition to the essential elements of 
total hours, gross pay, and any additions to or deductions made from 
gross pay. The intent of this option was to allow greater flexibility 
while still requiring wage statements to provide enough information for 
a worker to calculate whether he or she has been paid in full. The 
Department noted that one drawback of this option was that failure to 
pay overtime would not be as easily detected when compared with the 
first option. The worker would have to complete a more difficult 
calculation to identify an error in pay. Applying this second method, 
the current list of Substantially Similar Wage Payment States would be 
Alaska, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, 
Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, 
Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. See 80 FR 30592.
    The Department requested comments regarding the two options and 
stated that it could also consider other combinations of essential 
elements or other ways to determine whether State or local requirements 
are substantially similar. 80 FR 30592.
    Numerous employee advocates and members of Congress strongly 
supported the first option. These commenters observed that employers 
and workers benefit when workers can easily understand their pay by 
reviewing their wage statement. These commenters noted that wage 
statements also provide an objective record of compensated hours, which 
helps employers to more easily meet their burden of demonstrating wages 
paid for hours worked. National Employment Law Project (NELP), the 
National Women's Law Center (NWLC), and the Service Employees 
International Union (SEIU) thus advocated for the first option because 
it brings "greater... clarity on the face of the wage statement," 
making it "easier... for an employee to notice any errors and bring 
them to the attention of her employer." A comment by members of 
Congress favored the first option because "[d]isclosing whether 
workers have been paid at the overtime rate is critical to enabling 
workers to discern whether they have been paid fairly." While 
recommending the first option, SEIU and CAPAF further recommended that 
the first option be adopted with the modification that rate-of-pay 
information also be included as an essential element.
    The employee advocates found the second option--which would have 
allowed wage statements to omit overtime hours or earnings, as long as 
the wage statements include the rate of pay--to lack transparency. The 
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 
stated that workers "should not be required to apply a mathematical 
formula to determine the accuracy of wage payment." The United Food 
and Commercial Workers (UFCW) noted that omitting overtime hours and 
earnings "will impede employees' ability to recognize whether 
employers have failed to pay workers overtime." The second option is 
less transparent, according to the NWLC, because it makes "it more 
difficult and confusing for employees to understand their paychecks." 
The UBCJA stated that overtime hours or earnings are vital pieces of 
information that should not be omitted as such information is 
"necessary to protect workers in low-wage industries who are the most 
likely to be exploited and the least likely to have the math skills" 
required to determine if the wage paid is accurate. As NELP pointed 
out, contractors have workers' overtime hours and earnings readily 
available as they are required to retain this information under the 
law; it would, therefore, not be burdensome to require such information 
on wage statements.
    On the other hand, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) 
recommended that the second option be adopted, primarily because it 
would result in more substantially similar States and localities than 
would the first option--thereby reducing compliance burdens and 
providing greater flexibility to contractors. Associated Builders and 
Contractors (ABC) also believed the second option "is more in line 
with employers' practices and is less burdensome than the first 
option." Citing the paycheck-transparency provisions' alleged 
"significant burdens," the law firm of Ogletree Deakins encouraged 
the Department to adopt both options, and include a provision allowing 
contractors "to design their own substantially similar wage statements 
that will comply" with the Order. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the 
Chamber) stated that the Proposed Guidance was not clear regarding 
whether complying the requirement for any one of the substantially 
similar States (e.g., the California) "means that the contractor has 
met the [Order's] requirement for all employees or just employees in 
that State (i.e., California employees)." The Chamber recommended that 
contractors "be deemed to be in compliance with the wage statement 
requirements if they adopt one State's version nationwide." Finally, 
the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) opposed implementation 
of any wage-statement requirement until the Department has provided the 
public an opportunity to comment on the substantially similar State and 
local wage statement laws the Department ultimately identifies.
    After carefully reviewing the comments received regarding the two 
options discussed above, the Department adopts the first option for 
determining whether wage-statement requirements under State law are 
substantially similar. The list of Substantially Similar Wage Payment 
States now adopted in the final Guidance is: 1) Alaska, 2) California, 
3) Connecticut, 4) the District of Columbia, 5) Hawaii, 6) New York, 
and 7) Oregon. These States and the District of Columbia require wage 
statements to include the essential elements of hours worked, overtime 
hours, gross pay, and any itemized additions to and deductions from 
gross pay. The list of Substantially Similar Wage Payment States will 
be available on the Department's Web site at http://www.dol.gov/fairpayandsafeworkplaces/. See also FAR 52.222-60(c) (providing that 
the Order's wage-statement requirement is fulfilled if the contractor 
complies with the wage statement laws of these States and localities).
    The Department agrees with employee advocates who commented that 
the second option--which would allow wage statements to omit overtime 
hours worked, as long as the wage statements include the rate of pay--
is less transparent and helpful to workers. Excluding the overtime 
hours worked from the wage statement would require a worker to complete 
a more difficult computation in order to determine whether the correct 
wages were paid. Moreover, the Department agrees with commenters who 
noted that including the overtime hours in the wage statement would not 
be overly burdensome as contractors are already required to keep such 
information in their payroll records under the FLSA.
    With regard to SEIU's comment that the Department should adopt the 
first option with the modification that the rate of pay be a required 
item in the wage statement, the Department declines to do so. As set 
forth in the final FAR rule, rate of pay is a required element of the 
core wage-statement obligation under the Order. Accordingly, covered 
workers in most States will receive wage statements that include rate-
of-pay information. Only in those States and localities deemed 
"substantially similar" will it be permissible to provide a wage 
statement that does not include rate of pay. The Department believes 
that this accords with the definition of "substantially similar," 
which means only that the substantially similar laws "share essential 
elements" with the Order's requirement--not that they be identical. 
Moreover, the Department notes that four of the States included in the 
first option (Alaska, California, Hawaii, and New York) do already 
require wage statements to have the rate-of-pay information.\88\ Thus, 
contractors that have workers in those States will already need to 
include the rate of pay in their wage statements to comply with
State law--regardless of the Department's definition in this Guidance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \88\ For Alaska's wage-statement requirements, see 8 AAC 
15.160(h); for California, see Labor Code sec. 226(a); for Hawaii, 
see HRS sec. 387-6(c); and for New York, see NY Labor Law, art. 6, 
sec. 195(3).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department disagrees with comments by Ogletree Deakins 
encouraging the Department to adopt both options. Adopting both options 
would mean effectively adopting the second option, which the Department 
has deemed to be not as transparent. The Department also declines to 
allow contractors "to design their own substantially similar wage 
statements that will comply" with the Order, as this would likely 
result in a variety of wage-statement content, and the provision would 
then be difficult to administer. Moreover, the Order does not give the 
Department authority to allow contractors to design their own wage 
statements for purposes of satisfying the Order's "substantially 
similar" criteria; thus, this specific suggestion is outside the scope 
of the final Guidance.
    The Chamber requested clarification regarding whether complying 
with a State requirement (e.g., the California State requirement) means 
that the contractor has met the Federal requirement for all employees 
or just employees in that State. The Department believes that as long 
as the contractor complies with the wage-statement requirements of any 
of the Substantially Similar Wage Payment States, the contractor will 
be in compliance with the final rule. For example, if a contractor has 
workers in California and Nevada, the contractor will comply with the 
final FAR rule if it provides to workers in both States the same wage 
statements as long as the statements adhere to California State 
law.\89\ In other words, the contractor would be in compliance with the 
final rule if it adopts the wage-statement requirements of any 
particular State or locality in the list of Substantially Similar Wage 
Payment States in which the contractor has workers, and applies this 
model for its workers elsewhere.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \89\ California is among the States included in the list of 
Substantially Similar Wage Payment States, while Nevada requires 
minimal information in the wage statement provided to workers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department disagrees with NAM's comment opposing implementation 
of any wage-statement requirement until the Department has specifically 
identified "the so-called 'substantially equivalent' state and local 
laws" and provided an opportunity to comment. This comment may have 
conflated (1) the Department's duty under section 5(a) of the Order to 
identify State and local wage-statement laws that are "substantially 
similar" to the Order's wage-statement requirement with (2) the 
Department's duty under section 2(a) of the Order to identify the State 
laws that are "equivalent" to the 14 Federal labor laws and Executive 
orders for which violations must be disclosed.
    Finally, the Department received many substantive comments related 
to the two options discussing whether certain State and local 
requirements are substantially similar to the Order's wage-statement 
requirement. The Department developed this final Guidance based on a 
careful review of the comments received.
7. Request To Delay Effective Date
    One employer advocate suggested that the Department and the FAR 
Council allow Federal contractors time to comply with the wage-
statement provisions. The commenter noted that, in the short term, 
contractors will have to devise manual wage statements to comply with 
the Order until automated systems are able to generate compliant wage 
statements. Citing the Department's Home Care rule regarding the 
application of the FLSA to domestic service, see 78 FR 60454 (Oct. 1, 
2013), which had an effective date 15 months after the publication of 
the final rule, the commenter recommended that contractors be provided 
at least 12 to 15 months within which to comply with the wage-statement 
requirement.
    The FAR Council Rule provides that the paycheck transparency 
requirements are effective on January 1, 2017. See FAR 22.2007(d). The 
Department believes that this delay provides a reasonable length of 
time and is sufficient for contractors to update their systems to 
comply with the wage-statement provision. Further delaying the 
effective date of the wage-statement provision is not warranted. As 
discussed above, the Order's wage-statement requirement is deemed 
fulfilled where a contractor complies with a State law that the 
Department has determined to be "substantially similar." And, in 
States with wage-statement laws that are not substantially similar to 
the Order's requirements, contractors will need only to supplement the 
wage statements already provided pursuant to State law in order to 
conform to the Order's requirements.
    Moreover, the Department's enforcement experience has shown that 
many employers, including Federal contractors, in the small minority of 
States that do not require wage statements have opted to provide wage 
statements to their workers as part of their general payroll practice. 
A contractor in these States may choose either to include in the wage 
statements all of the information required by the Order, or follow the 
wage-statement requirements of any of the Substantially Similar Wage 
Payment States in which it has employees. Finally, as discussed above, 
all of the information required to be included in the wage statement 
consists of items that contractors already maintain as part of their 
normal recordkeeping obligations and general bookkeeping or payroll 
practices. The provisions of the wage-statement requirement, in large 
part, require contractors only to fine-tune the wage statements they 
already provide to workers to include any additional required 
information.
8. FLSA Exempt-Status Notification
    According to the Order, the wage statement provided to workers who 
are exempt from the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA "need not 
include a record of hours worked if the contractor informs the 
individuals of their exempt status." Order, section 5(a). Because such 
workers do not have to be paid overtime under the FLSA, hours-worked 
information need not be included in the wage statement. See 80 FR 
30592. Thus, if the contractor determines that a worker is exempt from 
overtime pay under the FLSA and intends to not include the worker's 
hours-worked information on the wage statement provided to the worker, 
notification of the worker's exempt status must be provided to the 
worker first.
    The Department suggested in its Proposed Guidance that in order to 
exclude the hours-worked information in the wage statement, the 
contractor would have to provide a written notice to the worker stating 
that the worker is exempt from the FLSA's overtime pay requirements; 
oral notice would not be not sufficient. 80 FR 30592. The final FAR 
rule provides that such notices of exempt status must be in writing. 
FAR 52.222-60. The Department further proposed that if the contractor 
regularly provides documents to workers electronically, the document 
informing the worker of his or her exempt status may also be provided 
electronically if the worker can access it through a computer, device, 
system, or network provided or made available by the contractor. 80 FR 
30592. The FAR Council adopted this proposal regarding electronic 
notice in its final rule. See FAR 52.222-60. Finally, the proposals 
suggested that if a significant portion of the contractor's workforce 
is not fluent in English, the document provided notifying the worker of 
exempt status must also be in the language(s) other
than English in which the significant portion(s) of the workforce is 
fluent.\90\ See 80 FR 30592. The FAR Council adopted this translation 
requirement in its final rule. See FAR 52.222-60.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \90\ Translation requirements are also discussed below in the 
context of the independent contractor notice, in section VII(B)(5) 
of the section-by-section analysis.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department received comments regarding the following issues 
related to FLSA exempt status: Type and frequency of the notice, 
differing interpretations by the courts regarding exemptions under the 
FLSA, and phased-in implementation.
a. Type and Frequency of the Notice
    One labor union commented that the contractor should be excused 
from recording the overtime hours worked in the wage statement only if 
the worker is correctly classified as exempt from the FLSA's overtime 
pay requirements. The commenter also recommended that workers should be 
informed of their exempt status on each wage statement. An employer-
advocate requested clarification on whether the exempt-status notice 
should be provided once (e.g., in a written offer of employment) or on 
a recurring basis (e.g., on each wage statement).
    With regard to the labor union's comment on the importance of 
correctly determining the exempt status of a worker under the FLSA, the 
Department agrees that employers should correctly classify their 
workers, but does not changes the Guidance in the manner suggested. An 
employer who claims an exemption from the FLSA is responsible for 
ensuring that the exemption applies. See Donovan v. Nekton, Inc., 703 
F.2d 1148, 1151 (9th Cir. 1983). However, the fact that an employer 
provides the exempt-status notice to a worker does not mean that the 
worker is necessarily classified correctly. The Department will not 
consider the notice provided by the contractor to the worker as 
determinative of or even relevant to the worker's exempt status under 
the FLSA. Therefore, the FAR has clarified that a contractor may not in 
its exempt-status notice to a worker indicate or suggest that the 
Department or the courts agree with the contractor's determination that 
the worker is exempt. See 52.222-60(b)(3). The Department has modified 
the Guidance to reflect this clarification.
    With regard to the type of notice to be provided to the worker and 
how often it should be provided, the final FAR rule requires that 
contractors provide notice to workers one time before the worker 
performs any work under a covered contract, or in the worker's first 
wage statement under the contract. See 52.222-60(b)(3). After carefully 
reviewing the comments received, the Department believes that this 
requirement is sufficient. If during performance of the contract, the 
contractor determines that the worker's status has changed from non-
exempt to exempt (for example, because of a change in the worker's pay, 
duties, or both), it must provide notice to the worker either (a) prior 
to providing a wage statement without hours worked information or (b) 
in the first wage statement after the change. See id. The notice must 
be in writing; oral notice is not sufficient. See id. The notice can be 
a stand-alone document or be included in the offer letter, employment 
contract, position description, or wage statement provided to the 
worker. See id.
    The Department does not believe it is necessary to require a 
contractor to include the exempt-status information on each wage 
statement. Although it is permissible to provide notice on each wage 
statement, it is also permissible to provide the notice one time before 
any work on the covered contract is performed or one time upon a change 
from non-exempt to exempt status during the performance of the 
contract. If the contractor provides such a one-time notice, there is 
no need to provide notice in each wage statement. If the worker's 
status later changes from exempt to non-exempt, no notice of the change 
is required under the Order, but the contractor must thereafter include 
hours worked information on the wage statements provided to the worker.
b. Differing Interpretations by the Courts of an Exemption Under the 
FLSA
    One industry commenter stated that it would not be prudent to 
require employers to report on the exempt or non-exempt status of 
workers where there is disagreement among the courts on who is and who 
is not exempt under the FLSA. The commenter noted that, for example, 
while two Circuit Courts have held that service advisors are exempt 
"salesmen" under section 13(b)(10)(A) of the FLSA, the Ninth Circuit 
disagreed and found that the exemption is inapplicable to service 
advisors. See, e.g., Navarro v. Encino Motorcars, LLC, 780 F.3d 1267 
(9th Cir. 2015).\91\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \91\ The Supreme Court has since vacated the Ninth Circuit's 
decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. See http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/15-415_mlho.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department understands that some court decisions regarding the 
exemption status of certain workers under the FLSA may not be fully 
consistent. The Department, however, does not find this to be a 
persuasive reason to relieve contractors from providing the exempt-
status notice to employees. Regardless of any inconsistency in court 
decisions, contractors already must make decisions about whether to 
classify their employees as exempt or non-exempt under the FLSA in 
order to determine whether to pay them overtime. Such determinations 
are based on the facts of each particular situation, the statute, 
relevant regulations, guidance from the Department, and advice from 
counsel. In addition, in making these determinations, contractors 
already must consider any inconsistent court decisions.
    The Order does not change this status quo. Under the Order, the 
contractor retains the authority and responsibility to determine 
whether to claim an exemption under the FLSA. All that is required 
under the Order is notice to the workers of the status that the 
employer has already determined. And such notice is only required if 
the employer wishes to provide workers with a wage statement that does 
not contain the worker's hours worked.
c. Request To Delay Implementation of the Exempt-Status Notice
    One industry association suggested that compliance with the exempt-
status notice requirements be postponed until the Department has 
finalized its proposal to update the regulations defining the "white 
collar" exemptions under section 13(a)(1) of the FLSA. See 80 FR 38515 
(July 6, 2015); http://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/NPRM2015/. The white-
collar exemptions define which executive, administrative, and 
professional employees are exempt from the FLSA's minimum wage and 
overtime pay protections. See 29 CFR part 541.
    The Department believes that such a delay is unnecessary. The 
Department published its final rule updating the white-collar exemption 
regulations on May 23, 2016, see 81 FR 32391, and all employers covered 
by the FLSA will continue to make determinations of FLSA exempt status 
both before and after the update to the regulations becomes effective 
on December 1, 2016, see id. The Order does not affect this continuing 
obligation. The only new obligation under the Order is to provide 
notice to employees of the determination that the contractor has 
already made--and only if the contractor wishes to provide employees 
with a wage statement without a record of hours worked. Because 
contractors will need to make exempt-status determinations regardless of any 
requirements under the Order, the Department finds the argument that 
the Order's requirements be delayed for this reason to be unwarranted. 
\92\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \92\ As discussed in section VII(A)(7) of the Guidance, the 
final FAR rule delays the effective date of the Order's paycheck 
transparency provisions generally until January 1, 2017.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Independent Contractor Notice
    Section 5(b) of the Order states that if a contractor treats an 
individual performing work under a covered contract as an independent 
contractor, then the contractor must provide "a document informing the 
individual of this [independent contractor] status." Order, section 
5(b). Contractors have to incorporate this same provision into covered 
subcontracts. See FAR 52.222-60(f).
    The proposed FAR Council rule specified that the notice informing 
the individual of his or her independent contractor status must be 
provided before the individual performs any work on the contract. 80 FR 
30572. As the Department noted in the Proposed Guidance, the notice 
must be in writing and provided separately from any independent 
contractor agreement entered into between the contractor and the 
individual. See 80 FR 30593. The Proposed Guidance also noted that if 
the contractor regularly provides documents to its workers 
electronically, the notice may also be provided electronically if the 
worker can access it via a computer, device, system, or network 
provided or made available by the contractor. Id.
    The Proposed Guidance further stated that the provision of the 
notice to a worker informing the worker that he or she is an 
independent contractor does not mean that the worker is correctly 
classified as an independent contractor under the applicable laws. 80 
FR 30593. The determination of whether a worker is an independent 
contractor under a particular law remains governed by that law's 
definition of "employee" and the law's standards for determining 
which workers are independent contractors and not employees. See id.
    The Department received comments from several unions and other 
employee advocates that were supportive of the Order's independent 
contractor notice provisions. In contrast, several industry advocates 
commented that aspects of the independent contractor notice requirement 
need to be clarified. The Department has organized the comments in the 
corresponding sections below.
1. Clarifying the Information in the Notice
    The Department received comments requesting clarification of the 
information that should be included in the independent contractor 
notice. Several employee advocates recommended that the document also 
notify the worker that, as an independent contractor, he or she is not 
entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA, is not covered by worker's 
compensation or unemployment insurance, and is responsible for the 
payment of relevant employment taxes.
    One employee advocate recommended that the notice include a 
statement notifying the worker that the contractor's designation of a 
worker as an independent contractor does not mean that the worker is 
correctly classified as an independent contractor under the applicable 
law. Several commenters suggested that the notice also include 
information regarding which agency to contact if the worker has 
questions about being designated as an independent contractor or needs 
other types of assistance. One labor union also recommended that the 
Department establish a toll-free hotline that provides more information 
on misclassification of employees as independent contractors or tools 
to challenge the independent contractor classification.
    One industry commenter suggested that the FAR Council or the 
Department publish a model independent contractor notice with 
recommended language. Another industry commenter requested more 
detailed guidance on what the independent contractor notice should 
include.
    As discussed above, section 5(b) of the Order requires that the 
worker be informed in writing by the contractor if the worker is to be 
classified as an independent contractor and not an employee. Thus, the 
final FAR rule clarifies that the notice must be in writing and 
provided separately from any independent contractor agreement entered 
into between the contractor and the individual. See FAR 52.222-
60(d)(1)).
    The Order, however, does not require the provision of the 
additional information suggested by commenters. The Department believes 
that notifying the worker of his or her status as an independent 
contractor satisfies the Order's requirement. Providing such notice 
enables workers to evaluate their status as independent contractors and 
raise any concerns. The objective is to minimize disruptions to 
contract performance and resolve pay issues early and efficiently. If 
the worker has questions or concerns regarding the particular 
determination, then he or she can raise such questions with the 
contractor and/or contact the appropriate government agency for more 
information or assistance.
    As stated above, the fact that a contractor has provided a worker 
with notice that he or she is an independent contractor does not mean 
that the worker is correctly classified as an independent contractor. A 
contractor may not in its notice to a worker indicate or suggest that 
any enforcement agency or court agrees with the contractor's 
determination that the worker is an independent contractor. See FAR 
52.222-60(d)(1). The Department will not consider the notice when 
determining whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee 
under the laws that it enforces.
    With regard to comments recommending that the Department establish 
a hotline that provides information on issues involving 
misclassification of employees as independent contractors, the relevant 
agencies within the Department already have toll-free helplines that 
workers and contractors can access to obtain this type of information 
and for general assistance. Members of the public, for example, can 
call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 1(866) 4US-WAGE 
(487-9243), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at 1(800) 
321-OSHA (6742), the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at 
1(800) 397-6251. The National Labor Relations Board can be reached at 
1(866) 667-NLRB, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can be 
reached at 1(800) 669-4000. Moreover, the enforcement agencies' 
respective Web sites contain helpful information regarding employee 
misclassification.
    With regard to comments requesting a sample independent contractor 
notice, the Department does not believe it is necessary to create a 
template notice. The Department expects that any notice will explicitly 
inform the worker that the contractor has made a decision to classify 
the workers as an independent contractor.
2. Independent Contractor Determination
    Several industry commenters suggested that the Department clarify 
which statute should provide the basis for determining independent-
contractor status for purposes of the Order's requirement. These 
commenters noted that the Proposed Guidance stated that the 
determination of whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee 
under a particular law remains governed by that law's definition of 
"employee." See 80 FR 30593. The commenters stated that they are 
uncertain as to what definition should be used in determining 
whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor.
    The Department does not believe that it is necessary or appropriate 
to pick one specific definition of "employee" for the Order's 
independent-contractor notice requirement. Employers already make a 
determination of whether a worker is an employee (or an independent 
contractor) whenever they hire a worker. The Order does not affect this 
responsibility; it only requires the contractor to provide the worker 
with notice of the determination that the contractor has made. If the 
contractor has determined that the worker is an independent contractor, 
then the employer must provide the notice.
3. Frequency of the Independent Contractor Notice
    The Department received comments regarding the number of times an 
individual who is classified as an independent contractor and engaged 
to perform work on several covered contracts should receive notice of 
his or her independent contractor status. Two industry commenters, for 
example, noted that an independent contractor who provides services on 
multiple covered contracts on an intermittent basis could receive 
dozens of identical notices, resulting in redundancy and 
inefficiencies. Other industry commenters believed that providing 
multiple notices for the same work performed on different covered 
contracts is burdensome and unnecessary. Two industry commenters 
suggested that an independent contractor agreement between the relevant 
parties should satisfy the Order's independent contractor notice 
requirement.
    The final FAR rule provides that the notice informing the 
individual of his or her independent contractor status must be provided 
at the time that an independent contractor relationship is established 
with the individual or before he or she performs any work under the 
contract. FAR 52.222-60(d)(1). The FAR Council has also clarified in 
its final rule that contractors must provide the independent contractor 
notice to the worker for each covered contract on which the individual 
is engaged to perform work as an independent contractor. See id. The 
Guidance reflects this clarification. The Department agrees that there 
may be circumstances where a worker who performs work on more than one 
covered contract would receive more than one independent contractor 
notice. The Department, however, believes that because the 
determination of independent contractor status is based on the 
circumstances of each particular case, it is reasonable to require that 
the notice be provided on a contract-by-contract basis even where the 
worker is engaged to perform the same type of work. It is certainly 
possible that the facts may change on any of the covered contracts such 
that the work performed requires a different status determination. 
Moreover, if the contractor determines that a worker's status while 
performing work on a covered contract changes from employee to 
independent contractor (because the nature of the relationship between 
the worker and contractor changes), the contractor must provide the 
worker with notice of independent contractor status before the worker 
performs any work under the contract as an independent contractor. See 
id. If a contractor provides a worker on a covered contract with an 
independent contractor notice and later determines that the worker's 
status under that contract has changed to that of an employee, no 
notice of the change is required under the Order.
4. Workers Employed by Staffing Agencies
    The Department received several comments regarding contractors that 
use temporary workers employed by staffing agencies and whether these 
contractors must provide such workers with a document notifying them 
that they are independent contractors. NAM believed that in such cases, 
"temporary workers are neither independent contractors nor employees 
of the contractor." Several industry commenters suggested that the 
final Guidance clarify that contractors would not be required to 
provide notice of independent contractor status to temporary workers 
who are employees of a staffing agency or similar entity, but not of 
the contractor. Some of these commenters also recommended that the 
independent contractor status notice be given only to those workers to 
whom the contractor provides an IRS Form 1099.
    In situations where contractors use temporary workers employed by 
staffing agencies to perform work on Federal contracts, the contract 
with the staffing agency may be a covered subcontract under the Order. 
Section 5 of the Order requires that the independent contractor status 
notice requirement be incorporated into subcontracts of $500,000 or 
more. See Order, section 5(a). If the contract with the staffing agency 
is a covered subcontract, and the staffing agency treats the workers as 
employees, then no notices would be required. If the contract with the 
staffing agency is a covered subcontract, and the staffing agency 
treats the workers as independent contractors, then the staffing agency 
(not the contractor) is required to provide the workers with notice of 
their independent contractor status.\93\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \93\ When using a staffing agency, a contractor should consider 
whether it jointly employs the workers under applicable laws. The 
Department recently issued guidance under the FLSA and MSPA for 
determining joint employment. See "Joint employment under the Fair 
Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker 
Protection Act," https://www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/Joint_Employment_AI.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department disagrees with comments suggesting that the 
contractor should provide independent contractor notices only to those 
workers to whom the contractor already provides an IRS Form 1099. 
Employers use a Form 1099-MISC to report, among other items, "payments 
made in the course of a trade or business to a person who is not an 
employee or to an unincorporated business." \94\ The Order does not 
limit the requirement to provide the independent contractor notice to 
workers who receive a Form 1099-MISC. To the extent the contractor has 
classified an individual as an independent contractor for Federal 
employment tax purposes and provides the individual a Form 1099-MISC, 
the contractor must provide the individual with the independent-
contractor status notice. The Department, however, declines to 
interpret the Order as limiting the universe of workers who should 
receive an independent contractor notice to only those workers to whom 
the contractor already provides a Form 1099.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \94\ See "Form 1099-MISC & Independent Contractors," https://www.irs.gov/Help-&-Resources/Tools-&-FAQs/FAQs-for-Individuals/Frequently-Asked-Tax-Questions-&-Answers/Small-Business,-Self-Employed,-Other-Business/Form-1099-MISC-&-Independent-Contractors/Form-1099-MISC-&-Independent-Contractors (last visited July 22, 
2016).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Translation Requirements
    The FAR Council's proposed regulations required that if a 
significant portion of the contractor's workforce is not fluent in 
English, the document notifying a worker of the contractor's 
determination that the worker is an independent contractor, and the 
wage statements to be provided to the worker, must also be in the 
language(s) other than English in which the significant portion of the 
workforce is "more familiar." 80 FR 30572. The FAR Council's final rule 
provides a translation requirement. FAR 52.222-60(e)(1).
    The Department received comments requesting clarification regarding 
what would constitute a "significant portion" of the workforce 
sufficient to trigger the translation requirement. One industry 
commenter stated that the final Guidance should set a specific 
threshold. Another stated that the translation requirement is 
unnecessary and should be removed. One labor union commenter 
recommended that the term "significant portion" of the workforce be 
defined as 10 percent or more of the workforce under the covered 
contract.
    One industry commenter, AGC, posited a situation where there are 
various foreign languages spoken in the workplace. AGC requested 
clarification regarding whether the contractor would be required to 
provide the wage statement and the independent contractor notice to 
workers in every language that is spoken by workers not fluent in 
English. AGC suggested that the wage-statement translation requirement 
be revised such that the contractor need only provide the wage 
statement in English and "in each other language in which a 
significant portion of the workforce is fluent."
    With regard to translating the independent contractor notice, AGC 
recommended that this requirement apply only when the company is aware 
that the worker is not fluent in English. Another industry commenter 
also stated that it would not be sensible to require contractors to 
provide notice in Spanish to an independent contractor who only speaks 
English simply because a significant portion of the contractor's 
workforce is fluent in Spanish. AGC further advocated that, instead of 
including the complete translation in each wage statement or 
independent contractor notice for each worker, contractors should be 
allowed to provide only a Web site address where the translations are 
posted.
    After carefully reviewing the comments, the Department declines to 
provide a specific threshold interpreting what would constitute a 
"significant portion" of the workforce sufficient to trigger the 
translation requirement. The Department notes that this requirement is 
similar to regulatory requirements implementing two of the Labor Laws, 
the FMLA, 29 CFR 825.300(a)(4), and MSPA, 29 CFR 500.78. The term 
"significant portion" has not been defined under these regulations, 
and the lack of a definition or bright-line test has not prevented 
employers from complying with the requirement. For these reasons, the 
term is not defined in the final Guidance.
    The Department agrees with AGC's suggestion about workplaces where 
multiple languages are spoken. Where a significant portion of the 
workforce is not fluent in English, the Department believes that the 
contractor should provide independent-contractor notices to workers in 
each language in which a significant portion of the workforce is 
fluent. However, the Department does not agree with AGC's suggestion 
that it will be sufficient in all cases to provide a Web site address 
where the translated notice would be posted. Where workers are not 
fluent in English, providing a link to a Web site for the translation 
would be ineffective at providing the required notice.

VIII. Effective Date and Phase-in of Requirements

    The effective date of the FAR Council's final rule is October 25, 
2016. The Department received various comments related to the effective 
date of the Order's requirements. These commenters expressed two 
general concerns: First, about the burden of the disclosure 
requirements and the need for time to implement the necessary systems 
to track Labor Law violations; and second, about fairness related to 
the consideration of Labor Law violations that occurred before the 
effective date of the FAR rule. As discussed below, the FAR Council is 
phasing in the effective date of the disclosure requirements to address 
these concerns. The Department has created a separate section of the 
Guidance, section VIII, that contains a summary of the relevant 
provisions.
Phase-in of Disclosure Requirements
    Multiple industry commenters expressed concern that contractors 
would not have time to be prepared for the implementation of the FAR 
rule unless the effective date of the rule is delayed. One commenter 
specifically expressed concern that existing contractor staff are not 
equipped to gather and report all violations. Another expressed concern 
specifically about the difficulty for prime contractors of making 
responsibility determinations for their subcontractors, and requested 
that subcontractor disclosure requirements be phased in over the course 
of 5 years.
    In response to these concerns, the FAR Council has staggered the 
phase in of the Order's core disclosure requirements. From the October 
25, 2016 effective date to April 24, 2017, the Order's prime-contractor 
disclosure requirements will apply only to solicitations with an 
estimated value of $50 million or more, and resultant contracts. FAR 
22.2007(a) and (c)(1). After April 24, 2017, the prime-contractor 
disclosure requirements will apply to all solicitations greater than 
$500,000--which is the amount specified in the Order--and resultant 
contracts. Id. 22.2007(a) and (c)(2); Order, section 2(a). This also 
applies to the commercial items equivalent for prime contractors, at 
FAR 52.212-3(s). The subcontractor disclosure requirements are further 
staggered; they are not effective for the first year of operation of 
the FAR rule implementing the Order. While the rule overall is 
effective on October 25, 2016, the subcontractor disclosure 
requirements are not effective until October 25, 2017. See FAR 
22.2007(b). This phasing in of the requirements is discussed in the new 
"Effective date and phase-in of requirements" section of the 
Guidance.
"Retroactivity" of Disclosure Requirement
    With regard to the concern about fairness of disclosing violations 
prior to the effective date of the FAR rule, a number of commenters 
expressed concern that the 3-year disclosure period will require 
contractors to "retroactively" disclose Labor Law violations during 
the rule's first years of operation. For example, the HR Policy 
Association argued that it is "fundamentally unfair" to require 
contractors to disclose violations Labor Law decisions that were 
rendered prior to the effective date of the Order and that any 
disclosure "should be only prospective in nature." The Section of 
Public Contract Law of the American Bar Association (PCL Section) 
recommended that the disclosure requirement be phased-in and that only 
decisions after the disclosure requirement's effective date be 
disclosed. According to the PCL Section, a phase-in of the 3-year 
disclosure period would allow "contractors the opportunity to put 
systems in place" and would give "the federal procurement process 
time to adapt[.]"
    The Department agrees that the requirement to look back 3 years 
when disclosing Labor Law decisions should be phased-in, and the FAR 
Council's final rule provides for such a phase-in. See FAR 55.222-
57(c)(1)-(2), 55.222-58(b). This 3-year disclosure period is being 
phased in so that contractors will not disclose any decisions that were 
rendered against them prior to October 25, 2015. In the language of the 
FAR, disclosures of Labor Law violations must be made for decisions 
rendered during "the period beginning on October 25, 2015 to the date of the 
offer, or for 3 years preceding the date of the offer, whichever period 
is shorter." Id. 55.222-57(c)(1)-(2), 55.222-58(b). Thus, full 
implementation of the 3-year disclosure period will not be reached 
until October 25, 2018. As a result of this phase-in, contractors will 
not disclose Labor Law decisions that were rendered against them more 
than 1 year prior to the effective date of the FAR rule.\95\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \95\ As discussed above, the date on which the Labor Law 
decision was rendered--not the date of the underlying conduct--
controls whether a decision must be disclosed. Therefore, even with 
the phase in of the disclosure requirements, a contractor may still 
need to disclose Labor Law decisions for which the underlying 
conduct occurred more than 1 year prior to the effective date of the 
FAR rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Phased Implementation of Equivalent State Laws
    The Order directs the Department to define the State laws that are 
equivalent to the 14 identified Federal labor laws and Executive 
orders. Order, section 2(a)(i)(O). Contractors are required to disclose 
violations of these equivalent State laws, in addition to the 14 
Federal laws and orders. See id. In the Proposed Guidance, the 
Department proposed that OSHA-approved State Plans should be considered 
equivalent State laws for purposes of the Order, and stated that the 
Department would identify additional equivalent State laws in a second 
guidance to be published in the Federal Register at a later date. See 
80 FR 30574, 30579.
    Several commenters expressed concern with this proposed phased 
implementation and argued that the Guidance is incomplete without 
identification of all equivalent State laws. A number of them argued 
that without knowing all of the equivalent State laws, employers are 
unable to estimate the costs associated with implementing the Order, 
including the disclosure requirements. One commenter asserted that by 
failing to identify equivalent State laws, the Proposed Guidance 
ignored the costs of tracking and disclosing violations of potentially 
hundreds of additional laws and the potential costs of entering into 
labor compliance agreements with respect to those additional laws. Some 
industry commenters called for a delay of the implementation of the 
Order's requirements until guidance identifying the equivalent State 
laws is issued. NAM requested that the second guidance not be issued at 
all because the requirement will be "unworkable." Several employee 
advocates, in contrast, encouraged the Department to issue the second 
guidance "swiftly" before the end of 2015.
    The Department has considered these comments and declines to modify 
the Guidance as suggested. The final Guidance reiterates that the 
Department will identify the equivalent State laws in addition to OSHA-
approved State plans in a second guidance published in the Federal 
Register at a later date. The Department notes that the future guidance 
and accompanying FAR rulemaking on equivalent State laws will 
themselves be subject to notice and comment, and the rulemaking will 
address any additional economic burden resulting from the addition of 
equivalent State laws to the list of laws for which violations must be 
disclosed.
    While the Department believes that contractors may incur some 
limited costs when adjusting compliance tracking systems to track 
violations of any newly-identified State laws, the Department believes 
such costs will be de minimis. In contrast, delaying implementation of 
the entirety of the Order's disclosure requirements until the 
subsequent rulemaking would have negative consequences on economy and 
efficiency of Federal contracting by allowing contractors who have 
unsatisfactory records of compliance with the 14 Federal labor laws 
identified in the Order, and OSHA-approved State Plans, to secure new 
contracts in the interim.
Paycheck Transparency Provisions
    The final FAR rule implementing the paycheck transparency 
provisions specifies that contracting officers will be required to 
insert the paycheck transparency contract clause into covered contracts 
beginning on January 1, 2017. FAR 22.2007(d). This delayed effective 
date is included in the final Guidance.

IX. Other Comments

A. Public Availability of Disclosures and Assessment Information

    Concerns about the accuracy of the information that contractors 
will disclose were the basis of a number of requests from commenters 
that the information disclosed be made publicly available. Many unions 
and worker-advocacy groups suggested that the information disclosed by 
contractors pursuant to the Order's requirements be made available in a 
database or Web page that is accessible to the public and easy to use. 
Commenters argued that making this information public will help ensure 
that the contractors disclose their entire legal record and interested 
parties are able to spot incomplete or inaccurate disclosures.\96\ For 
some of these commenters, public disclosure requirements are essential 
to effective third-party involvement, which in their view is the most 
effective means to capture contractor misrepresentations or ongoing 
violations. Several commenters stated that making information publicly 
available is key in ensuring transparency in the process. A group of 
labor and employment lawyers stated that
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \96\ Similarly, some of these commenters expressed concern that 
OSHA's public database of violations does not include, or does not 
include enough information about, violations of section 11(c) of the 
OSH Act. The Department notes that OSHA's database does include 
information about certain 11(c) cases, and it does include 
information from some OSHA-approved State Plans about their 
retaliation cases.

[r]esponsible contractors should welcome greater transparency and 
accountability because it will ensure that they do not face unfair 
competition from companies that cut corners by cheating their 
workers or ignoring important health-and-safety obligations.\97\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \97\ One commenter recommended that a list of the companies 
undergoing responsibility reviews be published and updated by the 
Department. Another commenter proposed that each contracting agency 
track and annually report to the Department specific information 
regarding its contractors' compliance with the Labor Laws. However, 
these recommendations are beyond the Department's authority under 
the Order.

    In contrast, industry commenters believed that the disclosure 
requirements are already too public. They suggested that protections be 
put in place to protect confidential and proprietary information in 
disclosures made by contractors pursuant to the Order's requirements. 
Several also suggested that any information disclosed by contractors 
and made publicly available should be redacted to remove any personally 
identifiable information. A few commenters were concerned that the 
release of information disclosed by contractors would have a negative 
effect on a contractor's business and reputation, especially if there 
are errors in the data presented, and as such, these commenters 
requested that the Department or the FAR establish a means of 
correcting information made publicly available.
    The Department believes that the final FAR rule provides a 
reasonable balance between these two opposing views. The final FAR rule 
distinguishes between the required Labor Law decision disclosures and 
the optional additional relevant information that a contractor can 
submit to demonstrate its responsibility. The required initial 
representation and disclosure of limited information about each Labor 
Law decision is information that will be publicly available in the Federal 
Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS). FAR 
22.2004-2(b)(1)(i); id. 52.222-57(f). Similarly, where a contractor 
enters into a labor compliance agreement, the entry will be noted in 
FAPIIS by the ALCA and the fact that a labor compliance agreement has 
been agreed to will be public information. Id. 22.2004-2(b)(9). The 
optional additional information that a contractor provides, however, 
will only be made public if the contractor determines that it wants the 
information to be made public. Id. 22.2004-2(b)(1)(ii). The Department 
believes that this strikes an appropriate balance; it allows access to 
Labor Law decision information so that the public can assist in 
assuring full disclosure, while protecting more sensitive information 
about internal business practices.
    With regard to the comments about personally-identifiable 
information and other confidential information, the Department adds 
that information disclosed by contractors pursuant to the Order will--
like any other information submitted during the procurement process--be 
subject to the protections of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and 
the Privacy Act. The Department does not believe that the information 
submitted should be made any more or less publicly available than other 
information already disclosed by contractors as part of the contracting 
process and responsibility determinations. Although the Order's 
disclosure requirements may be new, the disclosed information fits into 
an existing process for making responsibility determinations, and the 
public availability of information disclosed pursuant to the Order 
should be the same as the public availability of information that 
already must be disclosed--which includes information about violations 
of other laws, organizational capacity, financing, and other 
potentially sensitive or confidential information.

B. Participation of Third-Parties

    Many employee advocacy groups urged the Department to provide more 
specific guidance about the participation of interested third-parties 
in the processes required by the Order. Several of these commenters 
suggested that the Department provide further specificity about how 
third-parties should submit information about a contractor's Labor Law 
violations to ALCAs for consideration when assessing a contractor's 
record. The commenters identified parties that might provide 
information as: The general public, worker representatives, community 
groups, labor-management cooperative committees, other contractors, 
worker advocate groups, and others. One commenter, NABTU, warned that 
competitors should not be considered "stakeholders" in this process, 
"to avoid contractors using the responsibility determination process 
to undercut one another."
    The Department agrees that the participation of interested third-
parties is an important element of the effective implementation of the 

Order. The Order contemplates that information regarding Labor Law 
violations will be "obtained through other sources." Order, section 
2(b)(ii). The Department interprets this term to include any other 
relevant source--including employees, worker representatives, community 
groups, and the public. The Department finds no reason to exclude 
competitors from this process. Under longstanding Federal procurement 
rules, "[c]ontracting officers are 'generally given wide discretion' 
in making responsibility determinations and in determining the amount 
of information that is required to make a responsibility 
determination." Impresa Construzioni Geom. Domenico Garufi v. United 
States, 238 F.3d 1324, 1334-35 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (quotations marks and 
citations omitted). The Department does not believe that the Order 
intended to limit the sources of information that contracting officers 
may consider--either during the preaward or postaward process.
    If an interested third party has information about relevant Labor 
Law decisions that it believes has not been properly disclosed by a 
contractor, the interested party is encouraged to provide that 
information to the relevant ALCA. The Department will maintain a list 
of ALCAs, including the Department's ALCA, and their contact 
information on its Web site at http://www.dol.gov/fairpayandsafeworkplaces. Relevant third-party information can further 
inform ALCAs and help them perform duties such as encouraging 
prospective contractors with serious, repeated, willful, and/or 
pervasive violations to work with enforcement agencies to address 
compliance problems; providing input to past performance evaluations; 
and notifying agency suspending and debarring officials when 
appropriate. However, the Department notes, the amount of information 
given out to the public about ongoing procurements is limited and 
controlled, see Procurement Integrity Act, 41 U.S.C. Chapter 21, and 
therefore contracting officers cannot contact third parties during an 
ongoing procurement to solicit information about a prospective 
contractor.
    Numerous worker-advocacy organizations also suggested that ALCAs 
and contracting officers should be required to consult with worker 
representatives during negotiation of a labor compliance agreement. 
These commenters observed that employees have direct knowledge of 
working conditions, and therefore that they and their representatives 
can provide useful input about what remedial measures would be most 
effective and should be included in a labor compliance agreement. One 
worker advocacy organization proposed that labor compliance agreements 
should contain a process for contracting officers to receive third-
party complaints about grievances and Labor Law violations, monitoring 
arrangements, or labor compliance agreements. Several labor 
organizations commented that employees and their representatives should 
be able to report compliance problems to the ALCA or the Department 
with protections against retaliation.
    The Department declines to modify the Guidance to specifically 
require the involvement of worker representatives in the negotiation of 
labor compliance agreements. As stated above, the FAR rule contemplates 
that enforcement agencies--not ALCAs or contracting officers--will 
negotiate labor compliance agreements with contractors. Therefore, the 
enforcement agencies will decide, based on their policies and 
procedures, if they will consult with or otherwise involve third 
parties during negotiations of labor compliance agreements.
    The same is true of methods for third parties to submit information 
about adherence to a labor compliance agreement. As discussed above in 
section III(C) of this section-by-section analysis, enforcement 
agencies will determine the terms of each labor compliance agreement on 
a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the totality of the 
circumstances. Many enhanced compliance agreements and suspension-and-
debarment administrative agreements contain auditing, monitoring, and 
whistleblower protection mechanisms that are intended to encourage 
employees and others to provide information about adherence to the 
agreement. Enforcement agencies may include these types of mechanisms 
in labor compliance agreements, and may provide information about 
adherence to agreements to the relevant ALCAs. The final FAR rule 
requires an ALCA to consult with the Department as needed
when verifying whether the contractor is meeting the terms of the 
agreement, see FAR 22.2004-3(b), through which any information that 
enforcement agencies have received from third parties may be provided 
to the ALCA. Conversely, if the ALCA has received information from 
third parties, he or she may provide that information to the relevant 
enforcement agency.

C. Anti-Retaliation and Whistleblower Protections for Reporting 
Information

    Several employee-advocacy organizations expressed concerns that 
contractor employees who report Labor Law violations to ALCAs may be 
subject to retaliation and suggested that workers of contractors 
receive notice about anti-retaliation and whistleblower protections. 
The Northern California Basic Crafts Alliance further requested that a 
notice of Federal whistleblower protections be included in all 
documents that public officials are required to complete under the 
Order and its accompanying regulations. This commenter also suggested 
that government workers tasked with carrying out the Order be provided 
such notice.
    The Department appreciates the serious concern raised by these 
commenters, but declines to make any changes to the Guidance. The Order 
does not provide for additional protections for whistleblowers. The 
Department notes, however, that Federal law already provides 
whistleblower protections to contractor employees who report fraud or 
other violations of the law related to Federal contracts. See, e.g., 31 
U.S.C. 3730(h) (the False Claims Act), 10 U.S.C. 2409 (protecting 
Department of Defense and NASA whistleblowers from retaliation). 
Whistleblower protection for contractor employees is also covered in 
FAR subpart 3.9. With regard to government employees, the Notification 
and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 
(known as the No Fear Act) requires that agencies provide annual notice 
to Federal employees, former Federal employees, and applicants for 
Federal employment of the rights and protections available under 
Federal antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection laws.

Guidance for Executive Order 13673, "Fair Pay Safe Workplaces"

Table of Contents

Introduction
I. Purpose and Summary of the Order
    A. Statutory Requirements for Contracting With Responsible 
Sources
    B. Legal Authority
    C. Summary of the Order's Requirements and Interaction With 
Existing Requirements
II. Preaward Disclosure Requirements
    A. Covered Contracts
    B. Labor Law Decisions
    1. Defining "Administrative Merits Determination"
    2. Defining "Civil Judgment"
    3. Defining "Arbitral Award or Decision"
    4. Successive Labor Law Decisions Arising From the Same 
Underlying Violation
    C. Information That Must Be Disclosed
    1. Initial Representation
    2. Required Disclosures
    3. Opportunity To Provide Additional Relevant Information, 
Including Mitigating Factors
III. Preaward Assessment and Advice
    A. Classifying Labor Law Violations
    1. Serious Violations
    2. Repeated Violations
    3. Willful Violations
    4. Pervasive Violations
    B. Weighing Labor Law Violations and Mitigating Factors
    1. Mitigating Factors That Weigh in Favor of a Satisfactory 
Record of Labor Law Compliance
    2. Factors That Weigh Against a Satisfactory Record of Labor Law 
Compliance
    C. Advice Regarding a Contractor's Record of Labor Law 
Compliance
    1. ALCA Recommendation
    2. ALCA Analysis
IV. Postaward Disclosure Updates and Assessment of Labor Law 
Violations
V. Subcontractor Responsibility
VI. Preassessment
VII. Paycheck Transparency
    A. Wage Statement
    B. Independent Contractor Notice
VIII. Effective Date and Phase-In of Requirements
Appendix A: Serious Violations
Appendix B: Repeated Violations
Appendix C: Willful Violations
Appendix D: Pervasive Violations
Appendix E: Assessing Violations of the Labor Laws

Introduction

    The Department of Labor (the Department) issues this guidance 
document (the Guidance) to assist the Federal Acquisition Regulatory 
Council (FAR Council) and Federal agencies in the implementation of 
Executive Order 13673, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (the Order), 79 FR 
45309, as amended.\98\ Among other important directives, the Order 
provides new instructions to Federal agency contracting officers to 
consider a Federal contractor's compliance with 14 identified Federal 
labor laws and Executive orders and equivalent State laws 
(collectively, "Labor Laws") as a part of the determination of 
contractor responsibility that Federal contracting officers must 
undertake before awarding a contract.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \98\ Executive Order 13673 was amended by Executive Order 13683, 
December 11, 2014 (79 FR 75041, December 16, 2014) and Executive 
Order __ (FR __, [DATE]). This document provides guidance for the 
Order as amended.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Order directed the FAR Council to issue regulations as 
necessary to implement the new requirements and processes. The Order 
also created detailed implementation roles for the Department, the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the General Services 
Administration (GSA). These agencies are implementing the Order in 
stages, on a prioritized basis.
    The Order gives the Department several specific implementation and 
coordination duties. The Order directs the Secretary of Labor (the 
Secretary) to develop guidance to define various relevant terms, 
identify the State laws that are equivalent to those Federal laws 
covered by the Order, and specify which State wage-statement 
requirements are substantially similar to the Order's wage-statement 
requirement. The Order also directs the Secretary to develop processes 
for coordination between the Department and newly-designated agency 
labor compliance advisors (ALCA) and processes by which contracting 
officers and ALCAs may give appropriate consideration to determinations 
and agreements made by Federal enforcement agencies.
    This Guidance satisfies most of the Department's responsibilities 
for issuing guidance, and the Department will publish at a later date a 
second guidance that satisfies its remaining responsibilities. The 
second guidance will be, as this Guidance was, submitted for notice and 
comment, published in the Federal Register, and accompanied by a 
proposed amendment to the FAR rule. The Department will likewise submit 
for notice and comment and publish any future updates to the Guidance 
that will have a significant effect beyond the operating procedures of 
the Department or that will have a significant cost or administrative 
impact on contractors or offerors. The Department will coordinate with 
the FAR Council in determining whether updates will have a significant 
cost or administrative impact.
    This Guidance contains the following sections. Section I discusses 
the reasons for the Order and summarizes its requirements. Section II 
provides guidance about the Order's preaward disclosure requirements 
and defines the types of information that prime contractors and 
subcontractors must disclose under the Order. The Guidance defines 
"administrative merits determinations," "civil judgments," and 
"arbitral awards or decisions" (collectively, "Labor Law 
decisions").

    Section III explains how ALCAs should assess Labor Law violations 
and provide advice and analysis to contracting officers during the 
preaward process. The first part of section III deals with how ALCAs 
should classify violations, and it defines the classification terms 
"serious," "repeated," "willful," and "pervasive" for purposes 
of the Order. The second part of section III explains how ALCAs should 
weigh a contractor's violations, including any potential mitigating 
factors and factors that weigh against a recommendation that the 
contractor has a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance. The third 
part explains the process in the FAR rule for the ALCA to provide 
advice and analysis to the contracting officer about a contractor's 
record of Labor Law compliance, including whether negotiation of a 
labor compliance agreement is warranted.
    Section IV provides guidance on the disclosure and assessment 
process during the postaward period. Section V summarizes the process 
under the Order for determining subcontractor responsibility. Section 
VI sets out the Department's preassessment process to help contractors 
come into compliance before the contractor bids on a solicitation. 
Section VII provides guidance on the Order's paycheck transparency 
provisions. Section VIII discusses the effective date and phase-in of 
the Order's requirements, including the phase-in of the Order's 
requirement for disclosure of violations of equivalent State laws.

I. Purpose and Summary of the Order

    The Order states that the Federal Government will promote economy 
and efficiency in procurement by contracting with responsible sources 
that comply with labor laws. See Order, section 1. The Order seeks to 
increase efficiency and cost savings in the work performed by parties 
that contract with the Federal Government by ensuring that they 
understand and comply with labor laws. See id.
    Beyond their human costs, labor law violations create risks to the 
timely, predictable, and satisfactory delivery of goods and services to 
the Federal Government, and Federal agencies risk poor performance by 
awarding contracts to companies with histories of labor law violations. 
Poor workplace conditions lead to lower productivity and creativity, 
increased workplace disruptions, and increased workforce turnover. For 
contracting agencies, this means receipt of lower quality products and 
services and increased risk of project delays and cost overruns.
    Contracting agencies can reduce execution delays and avoid other 
complications by contracting with contractors with track records of 
labor law compliance--and by helping to bring contractors with past 
violations into compliance. Contractors that consistently adhere to 
labor laws are more likely to have workplace practices that enhance 
productivity and to deliver goods and services to the Federal 
Government in a timely, predictable, and satisfactory fashion.
    Moreover, contractors who invest in their workers' safety and 
maintain a fair and equitable workplace should not have to compete with 
contractors who offer lower bids--based on savings from skirting labor 
laws--and then ultimately deliver poor performance to taxpayers. By 
contracting with employers who are in compliance with labor laws, the 
Federal Government can ensure that taxpayers' money supports jobs in 
which workers have safe workplaces, receive the family leave to which 
they are entitled, get paid the wages they have earned, and do not face 
unlawful workplace discrimination.

A. Statutory Requirements for Contracting With Responsible Sources

    By statute, contracting agencies are required to award contracts to 
responsible sources only. See 10 U.S.C. 2305(b); 41 U.S.C. 3702(b), 
3703. A "responsible source" means a prospective contractor that, 
among other things, "has a satisfactory record of integrity and 
business ethics." 41 U.S.C. 113(4). Part 9 of the Federal Acquisition 
Regulation (FAR) implements this statutory "responsibility" 
requirement. The FAR states that "[p]urchases shall be made from, and 
contracts shall be awarded to, responsible prospective contractors 
only." FAR 9.103(a).\99\ In accordance with the statutory definition 
of "responsible source," the FAR states that "[t]o be determined 
responsible, a prospective contractor must... [h]ave a satisfactory 
record of integrity and business ethics... ." FAR 9.104-1(d). Thus, 
for every procurement contract, an agency contracting officer must 
consider whether a contractor has a satisfactory record of integrity 
and business ethics and then make an affirmative determination of 
responsibility--that the awardee is a responsible source.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \99\ The FAR can be found at title 48 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations. Citations in this Guidance to the FAR use format FAR 
[section] instead of 48 CFR [section].
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Legal Authority

    The President issued the Order pursuant to his authority under 
"the Constitution and the laws of the United States," expressly 
including the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (the 
Procurement Act), 40 U.S.C. 101 et seq. The Procurement Act authorizes 
the President to "prescribe policies and directives that the President 
considers necessary to carry out" the statutory purposes of ensuring 
"economical and efficient" government procurement and administration 
of government property. 40 U.S.C. 101, 121(a). The Order establishes 
that the President considers the requirements included in the Order to 
be necessary to economy and efficiency in Federal contracting. See 
Order, section 1.
    The Order directs the Secretary to define certain terms used in the 
Order and to develop guidance "to assist agencies" in implementing 
the Order's requirements. Order, sections 2(a)(i), 4(b). The Guidance 
does not bind private parties or agency officials. Rather, the Order 
directs the FAR Council to issue the regulations necessary to implement 
the new requirements and processes. It is the Order and the FAR Council 
regulations that bind prospective contractors, subcontractors, 
contracting officers, and other agency officials--not the Guidance. The 
Guidance is not a regulation, and it does not amend or supersede the 
Order or the FAR. Where the Guidance uses mandatory language such as 
"shall," "must," "required," or "requirement," it does so only 
to describe the Department's interpretation of the regulatory 
requirements in the FAR.

C. Summary of the Order's Requirements and Interaction With Existing 
Requirements

    The Order builds on the pre-existing procurement system by 
instructing Federal agency contracting officers to consider a 
contractor's Labor Law violations, if any, as a factor in determining 
if the contractor has a satisfactory record of integrity and business 
ethics and may therefore be found to be a responsible source eligible 
for a contract award. See Order, section 2(a)(ii) and (iii). The 
Order's requirements are implemented through Part 22 of the FAR, which 
requires Federal agencies to include certain contract clauses in 
covered contracts.
    To facilitate the responsibility determination, the Order provides 
that, for all covered procurement contracts (defined below in section 
II(A)), each agency must require that the contractor make an initial 
representation regarding whether there have been any Labor Law 
decisions rendered against the contractor within the preceding 3-year
period for violations of the 14 identified Labor Laws. See Order, 
section 2(a)(i); Guidance, section II (Preaward disclosure 
requirements).
    The 14 Federal labor laws or Executive orders identified in the 
Order are:
     The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA);
     the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act);
     the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection 
Act (MSPA);
     the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA);
     40 U.S.C. chapter 31, subchapter IV, also known as the 
Davis-Bacon Act (DBA);
     41 U.S.C. chapter 67, also known as the Service Contract 
Act (SCA);
     Executive Order 11246 of September 24, 1965 (Equal 
Employment Opportunity);
     section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
     the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 
1972 and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974;
     the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA);
     title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII);
     the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA);
     the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA); 
and
     Executive Order 13658 of February 12, 2014 (Establishing a 
Minimum Wage for Contractors).
    Prior to an award, as a part of the responsibility determination, 
contractors with Labor Law decisions to disclose must make an 
additional disclosure of information about each violation. See FAR 
22.2004-1(a). In addition, contracting officers must provide 
contractors with an opportunity to disclose any steps taken to correct 
any disclosed violations or improve compliance with the Labor Laws, 
including any agreements entered into with an enforcement agency. See 
Order, section 2(a)(ii); Guidance, section II(C)(3). Contracting 
officers, in consultation with the relevant ALCA, then must consider 
the information in determining if a contractor is a responsible source 
with a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics. See Order, 
section 2(a)(iii); Guidance, section III (Preaward assessment and 
advice). ALCAs provide advice and analysis to the contracting officer 
about the contractor's record of Labor Law compliance, including in 
some cases a recommendation that the contractor needs to enter into an 
agreement to implement appropriate remedial measures or other actions 
to avoid further violations (a labor compliance agreement) or a 
recommendation that the agency suspending and debarring official should 
be notified. See FAR 22.2004-2(b).
    Similar requirements apply to subcontractors. See Order, section 
2(a)(iv); FAR 52.222-59(c); Guidance, section V (Subcontractor 
responsibility). Contractors are bound by the contract clause in their 
Federal award to require subcontractors on covered subcontracts to 
disclose any Labor Law decisions rendered against the subcontractor 
within the preceding 3-year period. See FAR 52.222-59(c)(3). A 
subcontractor with Labor Law decisions to disclose is required to make 
this disclosure to the Department, which provides the subcontractor 
with advice regarding its record of Labor Law compliance. See FAR 
52.222-59(c)(3)(ii), (c)(4)(ii)(C); [Amended Order]. The subcontractor 
then must provide the Department's advice to the contractor, which will 
use that advice in determining whether the subcontractor is a 
responsible source. See FAR 52.222-59(c)(4)(ii)(C). The contractor will 
(in most cases, before awarding the subcontract) consider the advice 
from the Department in determining whether the subcontractor is a 
responsible source that has a satisfactory record of integrity and 
business ethics. See id. 52.222-59(c)(2).
    The Order's disclosure requirement continues after an award is 
made. Semiannually during the performance of the contract, contractors 
must update the information provided about their own Labor Law 
violations and obtain the required information for covered 
subcontracts. See Order, section 2(b)(i); Guidance, section VI 
(Postaward disclosure updates and assessment of Labor Law violations). 
If a contractor discloses information regarding Labor Law violations 
during contract performance, or similar information is obtained through 
other sources, the contracting officer, in consultation with the ALCA, 
considers whether action is necessary. See Order, section 2(b)(ii). 
Such action may include requiring the contractor to enter into a labor 
compliance agreement, declining to exercise an option on a contract, 
terminating the contract in accordance with relevant FAR provisions, or 
referring the contractor to the agency suspending and debarring 
official. See id. If information regarding Labor Law decisions rendered 
against a contractor's subcontractor is brought to the attention of the 
contractor, then the contractor shall similarly consider whether action 
is necessary with respect to the subcontractor. See id. section 
2(b)(iii).
    The Order requires each contracting agency to designate a senior 
agency official to be an ALCA to provide consistent guidance to 
contracting officers. See Order, section 3. In consultation with the 
Department and other agencies responsible for enforcing the Labor Laws, 
ALCAs help contracting officers to: Review information regarding Labor 
Law decisions disclosed by contractors; assess whether disclosed 
violations are serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive; review the 
contractor's remediation of the violation and any other mitigating 
factors; and determine if the violations identified warrant remedial 
measures, such as a labor compliance agreement. See id. section 3(d); 
FAR 22.2004-1(c)(3).
    The Order also contains two paycheck transparency requirements. See 
Order, section 5; Guidance, section VII (Paycheck transparency). First, 
the Order requires contractors to provide all individuals performing 
work under the contract for whom they are required to maintain wage 
records under the FLSA, DBA, SCA, or equivalent State laws with a wage 
statement that contains information concerning that individual's hours 
worked, overtime hours, pay, and any additions made to or deductions 
made from pay. See Order, section 5(a). The Order instructs that the 
wage statement for individuals who are exempt from the overtime 
compensation requirements of the FLSA need not include a record of 
hours worked if the contractor informs the individuals of their exempt 
status. See id. Contractors can satisfy the Order's wage-statement 
requirement by providing a wage statement that complies with an 
applicable State or local wage-statement requirement that the Secretary 
has determined is substantially similar to the Order's wage-statement 
requirement. See id. Second, the Order provides that if a contractor is 
treating an individual performing work under a covered contract as an 
independent contractor, and not an employee, the contractor must 
provide a document informing the individual of this status. See id. 
section 5(b). The Order and the implementing FAR contract clause 
require contractors to incorporate these same two paycheck transparency 
requirements into covered subcontracts. See id. sections 5(a)-(b); FAR 
52.222-60.\100\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \100\ The Order further requires contracting agencies to ensure 
that for all contracts where the estimated value of the supplies 
acquired and services required exceeds $1 million, provisions in 
solicitations and clauses in contracts shall provide that 
contractors agree that the decision to arbitrate claims arising 
under Title VII or any tort related to or arising out of sexual 
assault or harassment may only be made with the voluntary consent of 
employees or independent contractors after such disputes arise, 
subject to certain exceptions. See Order, section 6. Contracting 
agencies must require contractors to incorporate this same 
requirement into subcontracts where the estimated value of the 
supplies acquired and services required exceeds $1 million, subject 
to certain exceptions. See id. This Guidance does not address this 
arbitration requirement.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Finally, the Order requires that, in developing the Guidance and 
proposing to amend the FAR, the Secretary and the FAR Council minimize, 
to the extent practicable, the burden of complying with the Order for 
Federal contractors and subcontractors and in particular for small 
entities, including small businesses and small nonprofit organizations. 
See Order, section 4(e). The intent of the Order is to minimize 
additional compliance burdens and to increase economy and efficiency in 
Federal contracting by helping more contractors and subcontractors come 
into compliance with workplace protections, not by denying them 
contracts. Toward that end, the Order provides that ALCAs and the 
Department will be available for consultation with contractors 
regarding the Order's requirements, see Order, sections 2(a)(vi), 
2(b)(iii), 3(c), and that contracting officers (and contractors for 
their subcontractors) will take into account any remedial actions and 
other mitigating factors when making a responsibility determination.

II. Preaward Disclosure Requirements

    This section of the Guidance discusses who must disclose Labor Laws 
decisions during the preaward period, what types of Labor Law decisions 
must be disclosed, and what particular categories of information must 
be disclosed for each decision. This section of the Guidance also 
defines the meaning of the different types of Labor Law decisions: 
"administrative merits determination," "civil judgment," and 
"arbitral award or decision."
    During the preaward process, the Order requires contracting 
agencies to include provisions in solicitations for all covered 
procurement contracts (defined below) that will require prospective 
contractors to disclose certain information about Labor Law violations. 
See Order, section 2(a). The solicitation provisions require all 
prospective contractors bidding on covered contracts to make an initial 
representation regarding whether there have been any Labor Law 
decisions rendered against them within the preceding 3 years. See FAR 
22.2004-1(a) and 22.2007(a); FAR 52.222-57; FAR 52.212-3(s) (commercial 
items). Later, only a subset of these prospective contractors--those 
for whom a responsibility determination is being performed--must make a 
more detailed disclosure about each Labor Law decision. See id. 
22.2004-1(a). These disclosure requirements are phased in during the 
first year of the Order's effect. Section VIII below contains a 
description of the phases of implementation.
    The Order and the final FAR rule also contain requirements for 
postaward disclosure, see Order, section 2(b); FAR 22.2004-1(a), and 
for disclosure by subcontractors, see Order, section 2(a)(iv); FAR 
22.2004-1(b) and 52.222-58. These requirements are discussed below in 
sections IV and V, respectively.

A. Covered Contracts

    The Order applies to contracting activities by executive agencies. 
See Order, section 1. The term "executive agency" is defined under 
the FAR as "an executive department, a military department, or any 
independent establishment within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. 101, 102, and 
104(1), respectively, and any wholly owned Government corporation 
within the meaning of 31 U.S.C. 9101." FAR 2.101. This Guidance 
generally uses the term "contracting agencies" to refer to executive 
agencies that are engaged in contracting.
    The Order requires prime contractors to make disclosures for 
procurement contracts with contracting agencies for goods and services, 
including construction, only where the estimated value of the supplies 
acquired and services required exceeds $500,000.\101\ See Order, 
section 2(a)(i). For purposes of this Guidance, these contracts are 
referred to as "covered procurement contracts." As used in this 
Guidance, the term "contract" has the same meaning as it has under 
the FAR. See FAR 2.101. Thus, the term "contract" means a procurement 
contract and does not include grants and cooperative agreements (which 
are not subject to the Order's requirements).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \101\ See FAR 1.108(c) (explaining computation of dollar 
thresholds under the FAR).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Order and the FAR rule also apply to certain subcontracts. The 
definition of covered subcontracts and the specific disclosure rules 
associated with subcontractors are discussed in detail in section V of 
this Guidance. This Guidance uses the term "covered contracts" to 
include both covered procurement contracts and covered subcontracts.
    The Order's disclosure requirements apply to contracts and 
subcontracts for commercial items that otherwise satisfy the Order's 
criteria. See FAR 52.212-3(s); 52.244-6. The coverage for commercially 
available off-the-shelf (COTS) items is more limited: Contracts for 
COTS items are covered procurement contracts if they otherwise satisfy 
the Order's criteria, but subcontracts for COTS items are not covered 
by the Order and therefore are not covered subcontracts. See id. FAR 
22-2004-1(b) (exempting only subcontracts for COTS items).
    In this Guidance, references to "contractors" include entities 
that hold covered procurement contracts as well as prospective 
contractors, or "offerors," meaning any entity that bids for a 
covered procurement contract. Similarly, references to 
"subcontractors" include entities that hold covered subcontracts as 
well as prospective subcontractors, or "offerors," meaning any entity 
that bids for a covered subcontract. The term "entity" is properly 
understood to include both organizations and individuals that apply for 
and receive covered contracts.

B. Labor Law Decisions

    The Order creates disclosure requirements for contractors and 
subcontractors performing or bidding on covered contracts. Under the 
Order, contractors and subcontractors must disclose Labor Law decisions 
that have been "rendered against [them] within the preceding 3-year 
period." See Order, sections 2(a)(i), 2(a)(iv)(A).
The 3-Year Disclosure Period
    The FAR provides for a phase-in of the 3-year disclosure period 
prior to October 25, 2018. Accordingly, the contract clauses require 
disclosure of Labor Law decisions rendered against the offeror "during 
the period beginning on October 25, 2015 to the date of the offer, or 
for three years preceding the date of the offer, whichever period is 
shorter." FAR 52.222-57(c) (covering contractor disclosures); 52.222-
58(b) (covering subcontractor disclosures). The phase-in is also 
discussed below in section VIII of this Guidance.
    The "preceding 3-year period" refers to the 3 years preceding the 
date of the offer (i.e., the contract bid or proposal). Contractors and 
subcontractors must disclose Labor Law decisions rendered during this 
3-year disclosure period even if the underlying conduct that violated 
the Labor Laws occurred more than 3 years prior to the date of the
disclosure. For example, if an employer failed to pay overtime due to 
workers in 2014, and the Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) 
makes a determination in 2016 that the employer violated the FLSA, then 
the employer must disclose the FLSA determination when bidding on a 
contract in 2018, even though the conduct underlying the violation 
occurred more than 3 years prior to the date of the employer's bid.
    Additionally, contractors and subcontractors must disclose Labor 
Law decisions whether or not the underlying conduct occurred in the 
performance of work on a covered contract. Accordingly, a contractor or 
subcontractor must disclose a Labor Law decision even if it was not 
performing or bidding on a covered contract at the time. For example, 
if the Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration 
(OSHA) determines that an employer violated a safety standard and the 
employer later (within 3 years of the determination) bids for the first 
time on a covered contract, the employer must disclose the OSHA 
citation even though it was not a contractor or bidding on a covered 
contract at the time when it received the determination.
Covered Labor Laws and Equivalent State Laws
    Labor Law decisions that must be disclosed include those issued for 
violations of the 14 Federal laws and Executive orders specified in the 
Order. These laws are listed in section 2 of the Order and the list is 
included above in section I(C) of this Guidance. In addition, 
contractors and subcontractors must disclose violations of State laws 
that the Department identifies as equivalent to those 14 Federal laws. 
See Order, section 2(a)(i)(O).
    The Department has determined that OSHA-approved State Plans are 
equivalent State laws for the purposes of the Order. The OSH Act 
permits certain States to administer OSHA-approved State occupational 
safety-and-health plans in lieu of Federal enforcement of the OSH Act. 
Section 18 of the OSH Act encourages States to develop and operate 
their own job safety-and-health programs, and OSHA approves and 
monitors State Plans and provides up to 50 percent of an approved 
plan's operating costs. OSHA-approved State Plans are described and 
listed in 29 CFR part 1952, and further information about such plans 
can be found at https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html. Labor Law 
decisions finding violations under an OSHA-approved State Plan are 
therefore subject to the Order's disclosure requirements.
    In future guidance, the Department will identify additional 
equivalent State laws. Until this subsequent guidance and a subsequent 
FAR amendment are published, contractors and subcontractors are not 
required to disclose violations of State laws other than the OSHA-
approved State Plans.
1. Defining "Administrative Merits Determination"
    Enforcement agencies issue notices, findings, and other documents 
when they determine that any of the Labor Laws have been violated. For 
purposes of this Guidance, "enforcement agency" means any agency that 
administers the Federal Labor Laws: The Department and its agencies--
OSHA, WHD, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs 
(OFCCP); and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission 
(OSHRC).\102\ Enforcement agencies also include the Equal Employment 
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the National Labor Relations Board 
(NLRB). "Enforcement agency" does not include a Federal agency that, 
in its capacity as a contracting agency, undertakes an investigation of 
a violation of the Federal Labor Laws.\103\ For purposes of this 
Guidance, "enforcement agency" also includes a State agency 
designated to administer an OSHA-approved State Plan, but only to the 
extent that the State agency is acting in its capacity as administrator 
of such plan. And once the Department's second guidance (to be 
published at a later date) identifying the State laws that are 
equivalent to the Federal Labor Laws is finalized, and a corresponding 
FAR amendment is published, "enforcement agency" will also include 
any State agency that enforces those identified equivalent State laws.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \102\ OSHRC is an independent Federal agency that provides 
administrative trial and appellate review in contests of OSH Act 
citations or penalties.
    \103\ For example, contracting agencies may investigate 
violations of the DBA relating to contracts that they administer, 
but that does not make them enforcement agencies for purposes of the 
Order.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For purposes of the Order, the term "administrative merits 
determination" means any of the following notices or findings--whether 
final or subject to appeal or further review--issued by an enforcement 
agency following an investigation that indicates that the contractor or 
subcontractor violated any provision of the Labor Laws:
    (a) From the Department's Wage and Hour Division:
     A WH-56 "Summary of Unpaid Wages" form;
     a letter indicating that an investigation disclosed a 
violation of the FLSA or a violation of the FMLA, SCA, DBA, or 
Executive Order 13658;
     a WH-103 "Employment of Minors Contrary to The Fair Labor 
Standards Act" notice;
     a letter, notice, or other document assessing civil 
monetary penalties;
     a letter that recites violations concerning the payment of 
subminimum wages to workers with disabilities under section 14(c) of 
the FLSA or revokes a certificate that authorized the payment of 
subminimum wages;
     a WH-561 "Citation and Notification of Penalty" for 
violations under the OSH Act's field sanitation or temporary labor camp 
standards;
     an order of reference filed with an administrative law 
judge.
    (b) from the Department's Occupational Safety and Health 
Administration or any State agency designated to administer an OSHA-
approved State Plan:
     A citation;
     an imminent danger notice;
     a notice of failure to abate; or
     any State equivalent;
    (c) from the Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance 
Programs:
     A show cause notice for failure to comply with the 
requirements of Executive Order 11246, section 503 of the 
Rehabilitation Act, the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance 
Act of 1972, or the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act 
of 1974;
    (d) from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:
     A letter of determination that reasonable cause exists to 
believe that an unlawful employment practice has occurred or is 
occurring;
    (e) from the National Labor Relations Board:
     A complaint issued by any Regional Director;
    (f) a complaint filed by or on behalf of an enforcement agency with 
a Federal or State court, an administrative law judge or other 
administrative judge alleging that the contractor or subcontractor 
violated any provision of the Labor Laws; or
    (g) any order or finding from any administrative law judge or other 
administrative judge, the Department's Administrative Review Board, the 
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission or State equivalent, 
or the National Labor Relations Board that the contractor or 
subcontractor violated any provision of the Labor Laws.
    The above definition provides seven categories of documents, 
notices, and findings from enforcement agencies that
constitute the administrative merits determinations that must be 
disclosed under the Order. The list is an exhaustive one, meaning that 
if a document does not fall within one of categories (a) through (g) 
above, the Department does not consider it to be an "administrative 
merits determination" for purposes of the Order.
    In addition, the Department will publish at a later date a second 
proposed guidance that identifies an eighth category of administrative 
merits determinations: The documents, notices, and findings issued by 
State enforcement agencies when they find violations of the State laws 
equivalent to the Federal Labor Laws.
    Categories (a) through (e) in the definition list types of 
administrative merits determinations that are issued by specific 
enforcement agencies. Categories (f) and (g) describe types of 
administrative merits determinations that are common to multiple 
enforcement agencies. Category (f) is necessary because it is possible 
that an enforcement agency will not have issued a notice or finding 
following its investigation that falls within categories (a) through 
(e) prior to filing a complaint in court.
    Administrative merits determinations are issued following an 
investigation by the relevant enforcement agency. Administrative merits 
determinations are not limited to notices and findings issued following 
adversarial or adjudicative proceedings such as a hearing, nor are they 
limited to notices and findings that are final and unappealable. Thus, 
an administrative merits determination still must be disclosed under 
the Order even if the contractor is challenging it or can still 
challenge it. The Department recognizes that contractors may dispute an 
administrative merits determination. As set forth below, when 
contractors disclose administrative merits determinations, they may 
also submit any additional information that they believe may be helpful 
in assessing the violations at issue (including the fact that the 
determination has been challenged). Additionally, contractors have the 
opportunity to provide information regarding any mitigating factors. 
This information will be carefully considered. See below section 
III(B).
    Certain "complaints" issued by enforcement agencies are included 
in the definition of "administrative merits determination." The 
complaints issued by enforcement agencies included in the definition 
are not akin to complaints filed by private parties to initiate 
lawsuits in Federal or State courts. Each complaint included in the 
definition represents a finding by an enforcement agency following a 
full investigation that a Labor Law was violated; in contrast, a 
complaint filed by a private party in a Federal or State court 
represents allegations made by that plaintiff and not any enforcement 
agency. Employee complaints made to enforcement agencies (such as a 
complaint for failure to pay overtime wages filed with WHD or a charge 
of discrimination filed with the EEOC) are not administrative merits 
determinations.
2. Defining "Civil Judgment"
    For purposes of the Order, the term "civil judgment" means any 
judgment or order entered by any Federal or State court in which the 
court determined that the contractor violated any provision of the 
Labor Laws, or enjoined or restrained the contractor from violating any 
provision of the Labor Laws. Civil judgment includes a judgment or 
order that is not final or is subject to appeal.
    A civil judgment could be the result of an action filed in court by 
or on behalf of an enforcement agency or, for those Labor Laws that 
establish a private right of action, by a private party or parties. The 
judgment or order in which the court determined that a violation 
occurred may be the result of a jury trial, a bench trial, or a motion 
for judgment as a matter of law, such as a summary judgment motion. 
Even a decision granting partial summary judgment may be a civil 
judgment if, for example, the decision finds a violation of the Labor 
Laws but leaves resolution of the amount of damages for later in the 
proceedings. Likewise, a preliminary injunction (but not a temporary 
restraining order) can be a civil judgment if the order enjoins or 
restrains a violation of the Labor Laws. Civil judgments include 
consent judgments and default judgments to the extent that there is a 
determination in the judgment that any of the Labor Laws have been 
violated, or the judgment enjoins or restrains the contractor from 
violating any provision of the Labor Laws. A private settlement where 
the lawsuit is dismissed by the court without any judgment being 
entered is not a civil judgment. An accepted offer of judgment pursuant 
to the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 is also not a civil judgment 
for the purposes of the Order.
    Civil judgments do not include judgments or orders issued by an 
administrative law judge or other administrative tribunals, such as 
those identified in the definition of administrative merits 
determination. Such judgments and orders may be administrative merits 
determinations. If, however, a Federal or State court issues a judgment 
or order affirming an administrative merits determination, then the 
court's decision is a civil judgment.
    Civil judgments include a judgment or order finding that a 
contractor violated any of the Labor Laws even if the order or decision 
is subject to further review in the same proceeding, is not final, can 
be appealed, or has been appealed. As set forth below, when contractors 
disclose civil judgments, they may also submit any additional 
information that they believe may be helpful in assessing the 
violations at issue--including the fact that the civil judgment has 
been appealed. Additionally, contractors have the opportunity to 
provide information regarding any mitigating factors.
3. Defining "Arbitral Award or Decision"
    For purposes of the Order, the term "arbitral award or decision" 
means any award or order by an arbitrator or arbitral panel in which 
the arbitrator or arbitral panel determined that the contractor 
violated any provision of the Labor Laws, or enjoined or restrained the 
contractor from violating any provision of the Labor Laws. Arbitral 
award or decision includes an arbitral award or decision regardless of 
whether it is issued by one arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators and 
even if the arbitral proceedings were private or confidential.
    Arbitral award or decision also includes an arbitral award or 
decision finding that a contractor violated any of the Labor Laws even 
if the award or decision is subject to further review in the same 
proceeding, is not final, or is subject to being confirmed, modified, 
or vacated by a court. As set forth below, when contractors disclose 
arbitral awards or decisions, they may also submit any additional 
information that they believe may be helpful in assessing the 
violations at issue (including the fact that they have sought to have 
the award or decision vacated or modified). Additionally, contractors 
have the opportunity to provide information regarding any mitigating 
factors.
4. Successive Labor Law Decisions Arising From the Same Underlying 
Violation
    If a contractor appeals or challenges a Labor Law decision, there 
may be successive decisions that arise from the same underlying 
violation. For example, if a contractor receives an OSHA
citation and appeals that citation, it may receive an order from an 
administrative law judge (ALJ) upholding or vacating that citation. 
Similarly, if a contractor receives an adverse decision from the 
Department's Administrative Review Board (ARB) and challenges the 
decision in Federal court, it may receive a court judgment concerning 
that decision.
    Whether successive Labor Law decisions must be disclosed depends on 
the nature of the most recent decision at the time of disclosure. Where 
the most recent Labor Law decision finds no violation--or otherwise 
reverses or vacates all prior findings of a violation--then the 
contractor does not need to disclose any of the decisions. Where the 
most recent decision has reinstated an initial finding of a violation, 
however, then the latest decision reinstating the finding must be 
disclosed. Thus, in the first example above, if the ALJ reverses the 
OSHA citation, the contractor need not disclose either the initial 
citation or the ALJ's order. But if the violation is later reinstated 
by the full OSHRC or by a Federal court of appeals, the contractor must 
disclose the OSHRC or appellate court decision.
    Where the most recent Labor Law decision upholds or affirms any 
finding of violation, the contractor should disclose only the Labor Law 
decision that is the most recent at the time of disclosure. Thus, in 
the second example above, if the Federal court affirms the ARB's 
decision, or modifies it but does not vacate it in its entirety, the 
contractor should disclose the more recent court order and need not 
disclose the original ARB decision.
    Where the most recent Labor Law decision does not affirm or vacate 
the violation, but instead remands it for further proceedings, the 
underlying violation must still be disclosed. For example, an ALJ may 
grant a pre-trial motion for summary decision upholding an OSHA 
citation, and then OSHRC may reverse the ALJ decision and remand it 
because the OSHRC believes that a full trial was necessary to determine 
whether to uphold the citation. In that case, the OSHRC has not 
completely reversed or vacated the original OSHA citation, so the 
contractor still must disclose the original OSHA citation.
    Similarly, if the contractor appeals or challenges only part of a 
Labor Law decision, the contractor should continue to disclose the 
original Labor Law decision even if a successive Labor Law decision has 
been issued. For example, if, within the preceding 3-year period, a 
district court finds a contractor liable for Title VII and FLSA 
violations, and the contractor appeals only the Title VII judgment to 
the court of appeals, it must continue to disclose the district court 
decision (containing the finding of an FLSA violation) even if a 
subsequent court of appeals decision vacates the Title VII violation.
    If the contractor disclosed a Labor Law decision before being 
awarded a covered contract, and a successive decision arising from the 
same underlying violation is rendered during the performance of the 
contract and affirms that the contractor committed the violation, the 
successive decision is a Labor Law decision within the meaning of this 
Guidance. Therefore, the contractor must disclose the most recent 
decision when it updates its disclosures during performance of the 
contract. See FAR 22.2004-3(a).

C. Information That Must Be Disclosed

    The following sections provide guidance on the information that 
must be disclosed during the preaward stage of the contracting process. 
Section 22.2004 of the FAR sets forth the specific requirements for 
what must be disclosed at each stage, and how such information is to be 
reported. The process by which subcontractors make disclosures is 
discussed in section V(A) below.
1. Initial Representation
    When a contractor bids on a solicitation for a covered procurement 
contract, it must disclose whether any Labor Law decisions have been 
rendered against it "during the period beginning on October 25, 2015 
to the date of the offer, or for three years preceding the date of the 
offer, whichever period is shorter." FAR 52.222-57(c). At this stage, 
the contractor must represent to the best of its knowledge and belief 
whether it has or has not had such a decision rendered against it, 
without providing further information. See FAR 52.222-57(c).
2. Required Disclosures
    If a contractor reaches the stage in the process at which a 
responsibility determination is initiated, and that contractor 
responded affirmatively at the initial representation stage, the 
contracting officer will require additional information about that 
contractor's Labor Law violation(s). See FAR 52.222-57(d)(1).\104\ For 
each administrative merits determination, civil judgment, or arbitral 
award or decision that must be disclosed, the contractor must provide:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \104\ In addition to the information that the Order instructs 
the contracting officer to request, contracting officers also have a 
general duty to obtain such additional information as may be 
necessary to be satisfied that a prospective contractor has a 
satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics. See FAR 9.105-
1(a).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The Labor Law that was violated;
     the case number, inspection number, charge number, docket 
number, or other unique identification number;
     the date that the determination, judgment, award, or 
decision was rendered; and
     the name of the court, arbitrator(s), agency, board, or 
commission that rendered it.
See FAR 52.222-57(d)(1)(i). The contractor must disclose this 
information in the System for Award Management (SAM) unless an 
exception from SAM registration applies. See FAR 22.2004-2(b)(1)(i), 
(iii).

    With regard to the second element of information listed above, the 
contractor should provide the inspection number for OSH Act citations, 
the case number for NLRB proceedings, the charge number for EEOC 
proceedings, the investigation or case number for WHD investigations, 
the case number for investigations by OFCCP, the case number for 
determinations by administrative tribunals, and the case number for 
court proceedings.
3. Opportunity To Provide Additional Relevant Information, Including 
Mitigating Factors
    The contractor may also provide additional information that it 
believes will demonstrate its responsibility. See FAR 52.222-
57(d)(1)(iii). The contractor must disclose this additional information 
in SAM unless an exception from SAM registration applies. See id. 
22.2004-2(b)(1)(i) and (iii), 52.222-57(d)(1)(iv). The additional 
information may include mitigating factors and remedial measures, such 
as information about steps taken to correct the violations at issue, 
the negotiation or execution of a settlement agreement or labor 
compliance agreement, or other steps taken to achieve compliance with 
the Labor Laws. See id. 22.2004-2(b)(1)(ii). The contractor may also 
provide any other information that they believe may be relevant, 
including that it is challenging or appealing an adverse Labor Law 
decision. The information that the contractor submits will be carefully 
considered during an ALCA's assessment of the contractor's record of 
compliance.
    The additional relevant information provided by the contractor will 
not be made public unless the contractor determines that it wants the 
information to be made public. Id. 22.2004-2(b)(1)(ii). However, where a 
contractor enters into a labor compliance agreement, the entry will be 
noted in the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System 
(FAPIIS), available at www.fapiis.gov/, by the ALCA and the fact that a 
labor compliance agreement has been agreed to will be public 
information. Id. 22.2004-2(b)(9).
    Mitigating circumstances are discussed in more depth below in 
section III(B)(1) and labor compliance agreements are discussed in 
section III(C).
4. Preaward Updates to Representations
    Contractors have a duty to provide an update to the contracting 
officer prior to the date of an award if the contractor's initial 
representation is no longer accurate. In some procurements, a period of 
time may pass between the date of the contractor's offer on the 
contract and the date of the award. If, during this time, a new Labor 
Law decision is rendered or the contractor otherwise learns that its 
representation is no longer accurate, the contractor must notify the 
contracting officer of an update to its representation. See FAR 52.222-
57(e). This means that if the contractor made an initial representation 
that it had no Labor Law decisions to disclose, and since the time of 
the offer a new decision is rendered, the contractor must notify the 
contracting officer. The reverse is also true: If, for example, an 
offeror made an initial representation that it has a Labor Law decision 
to disclose, and since the time of the offer that Labor Law decision 
has been vacated by the enforcement agency or a court, the contractor 
must notify the contracting officer.

III. Preaward Assessment and Advice

    For every procurement contract, the agency's contracting officer 
must consider whether a contractor has a satisfactory record of 
integrity and business ethics and then make an affirmative 
determination of responsibility before making the award. The 
contracting officer considers relevant responsibility-related 
information from a number of sources, including members of the 
procurement team who are subject-area experts. In determining whether 
the contractor's history of Labor Law compliance reflects a 
satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics, the contracting 
officer considers the analysis and advice provided by the ALCA, using 
this section of the Guidance, as required by the Order and the 
implementing FAR rule. As discussed in section V(A) below, contractors 
will make the same determination for each of their subcontractors 
performing a covered subcontract, considering analysis and advice 
provided by the Department regarding any Labor Law decisions disclosed 
by the subcontractor.
    This section of the Guidance explains the three-step process by 
which ALCAs assess a contractor's record of Labor Law compliance and 
provide preaward advice to contracting officers. Section III(A) 
explains the first step: Classifying the Labor Law violations. At this 
stage, an ALCA reviews all of the contractor's violations to determine 
if any are "serious," "repeated," "willful," or "pervasive." 
Section III(B) discusses the second step: Weighing the Labor Law 
violations. At this point, the ALCA analyzes any serious, repeated, 
willful, and/or pervasive violations in light of the totality of the 
circumstances, including any mitigating factors that are present. 
Section III(C) discusses the third step: The ALCA provides advice to 
the contracting officer regarding the contractor's record of Labor Law 
compliance and whether a labor compliance agreement or other action is 
warranted.
    In the first step of the assessment process, the "classification" 
step, an ALCA reviews each of the contractor's Labor Law violations to 
determine which, if any, are serious, repeated, willful, and/or 
pervasive. Section III(A) of the Guidance defines these four terms. All 
violations of Federal laws are a serious matter; but, for purposes of 
the Order, certain Labor Law violations are classified as serious, 
repeated, willful, and/or pervasive. As explained below, the 
classification of a violation as serious, repeated, willful, and/or 
pervasive does not automatically result in a finding that a contractor 
lacks integrity and business ethics. Rather, this subset of all Labor 
Law violations represents those that may bear on an assessment of a 
contractor's integrity and business ethics; violations that fall 
outside this subset are less likely to have a significant impact. Thus, 
although the Order requires contractors to disclose all Labor Law 
decisions from the relevant time period, only those decisions involving 
violations classified as serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive 
are considered as part of the weighing step and factor into the ALCA's 
written analysis and advice.
    In the second step of the assessment process, the "weighing" 
step, the ALCA analyzes the contractor's serious, repeated, willful, 
and/or pervasive violations of Labor Laws in light of the totality of 
the circumstances, including, among other factors, the severity of the 
violation(s), the size of the contractor, and any mitigating factors. 
During the assessment process, the ALCA considers whether the 
contractor has a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance--in other 
words, whether the contractor's history of Labor Law compliance and any 
adoption by the contractor of preventative compliance measures indicate 
that the contracting officer could find the contractor to have a 
satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics despite the 
violations. The contractor's timely remediation of violations of Labor 
Laws is generally the most important factor weighing in favor of a 
conclusion that a contractor has a satisfactory record of Labor Law 
compliance. The ALCA also considers factors that weigh against a 
conclusion that the contractor has a satisfactory record. For example, 
as explained more fully below, pervasive violations and violations of 
particular gravity, among others, may support such a conclusion. See 
Section III(B).
    In the third step of the assessment process, the ALCA provides 
written advice and analysis to the contracting officer regarding the 
contractor's record of Labor Law compliance. The ALCA recommends 
whether the contractor's record supports a finding of a satisfactory 
record of integrity and business ethics. In cases where the ALCA 
concludes that a contractor has an unsatisfactory record of Labor Law 
compliance, the ALCA will recommend the negotiation of a labor 
compliance agreement or other appropriate action such as notification 
of the agency suspending and debarring official. If the ALCA concludes 
that a labor compliance agreement is warranted, the ALCA will recommend 
whether the agreement should be negotiated before or after the award. 
The written analysis supporting the advice describes the ALCA's 
classification and weighing of the contractor's Labor Law violations 

and includes the rationale for the recommendation. See Section III(C).
    While the ALCA provides written analysis and advice, the 
contracting officer has the ultimate responsibility and discretion to 
determine whether the contractor has a satisfactory record of integrity 
and business ethics and is a responsible source. See FAR 22.2004-
2(b)(4).

A. Classifying Labor Law Violations

    In the first step of the preaward assessment and advice process, 
the ALCA reviews all of the contractor's violations to determine if any 
should be classified as "serious," "repeated," "willful," and/or 
"pervasive." As part of this process, the ALCA monitors SAM
and FAPIIS for new and updated contractor disclosures of Labor Law 
decision information. See FAR 22.2004-1(c)(5). See also section 
II(C)(2), above, for a discussion of the information the contractor 
must disclose.
Criteria for Classifying Violations
    The Order directs the Department to assist agencies in determining 
whether administrative merits determinations, arbitral awards or 
decisions, or civil judgments (i.e., Labor Law decisions) were issued 
for serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive violations of the Labor 
Laws. Order, section 4(b)(i). It specifies that the definitions of 
these terms should "incorporate existing statutory standards for 
assessing whether a violation is serious, repeated, or willful" where 
they are available. Id. The Order also provides some guidelines for 
developing standards where none are provided by statute. See id.
    The sections below list criteria under which violations of the 
Labor Laws are considered serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive. 
These criteria include, for example, whether an agency applied a 
particular designation (e.g., "repeated" under the OSH Act) to a 
violation, whether particular thresholds were met (e.g., $10,000 in 
back wages), or whether other specific facts are present (e.g., whether 
punitive damages were awarded). A single violation may satisfy the 
criteria for more than one classification; for example a single 
violation may be both serious and repeated. Multiple violations may 
together be classified as pervasive.
    ALCAs classify violations based on information that is readily 
ascertainable from the Labor Law decisions themselves. ALCAs do not 
second-guess or re-litigate enforcement actions or the decisions of 
reviewing officials, courts, and arbitrators. While ALCAs and 
contracting officers may seek additional information from the 
enforcement agencies to provide context, they generally rely on the 
information contained in the Labor Law decisions to determine whether 
violations are serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive under the 
definitions provided in this Guidance.
Effect of Reversal or Vacatur of Basis for Classification
    If a Labor Law decision or portion thereof that would otherwise 
cause a violation to be classified as serious, repeated, willful, and/
or pervasive has been reversed or vacated, the violation should not be 
classified as such under the Order. For example, if an OSH Act 
violation was originally designated by OSHA as "serious" but is later 
re-designated as "other-than-serious," the violation should not be 
classified as a serious violation under the Order. Likewise, if a prior 
Labor Law decision that would otherwise cause a subsequent violation to 
be classified as a repeated violation is reversed or vacated, the 
subsequent violation should not be classified as a repeated violation.
1. Serious Violations
    Of the Federal Labor Laws, only the OSH Act provides a statutory 
standard for what constitutes a "serious" violation, and this 
standard also applies to OSHA-approved State Plans. The other Federal 
Labor Laws do not have statutory standards for what constitutes a 
serious violation. According to the Order, where no statutory standards 
exist, the Department's Guidance for "serious" violations must take 
into account

the number of employees affected, the degree of risk posed or actual 
harm done by the violation to the health, safety, or well-being of a 
worker, the amount of damages incurred or fines or penalties 
assessed with regard to the violation, and other considerations as 
the Secretary finds appropriate.

Order, section 4(b)(i)(B)(1).

    Accordingly, a violation is "serious" for purposes of the Order 
under the following circumstances:
    a. For OSH Act or OSHA-approved State Plan violations that are 
enforced through citations or equivalent State documents, a violation 
is serious if a citation, or equivalent State document, was designated 
as serious or an equivalent State designation.
    b. For all other violations of the Labor Laws, a violation is 
serious if it is readily ascertainable from the Labor Law decision that 
the violation involved any one of the following:
    i. The violation affected at least 10 workers, and the affected 
workers made up 25 percent or more of the contractor's workforce at the 
worksite or 25 percent or more of the contractor's workforce overall;
    ii. Fines and penalties of at least $5,000 or back wages of at 
least $10,000 were due;
    iii. The contractor's conduct caused or contributed to the death or 
serious injury of one or more workers;
    iv. The contractor employed a minor who was too young to be legally 
employed or in violation of a Hazardous Occupations Order;
    v. The contractor was issued a notice of failure to abate an OSH 
Act or OSHA-approved State Plan violation; or the contractor was issued 
an imminent danger notice or an equivalent State notice under the OSH 
Act or an OSHA-approved State Plan.
    vi. The contractor retaliated against one or more workers for 
exercising any right protected by any of the Labor Laws;
    vii. The contractor engaged in a pattern or practice of 
discrimination or systemic discrimination;
    viii. The contractor interfered with the enforcement agency's 
investigation; or
    ix. The contractor breached the material terms of any agreement or 
settlement entered into with an enforcement agency, or violated any 
court order, any administrative order by an enforcement agency, or any 
arbitral award.
    This definition is an exhaustive list of the classification 
criteria for use in designating Labor Law violations as serious under 
the Order. Further guidance for applying these criteria is included 
below:
a. OSH Act and OSHA-Approved State Plan Violations Enforced Through 
Citations and Equivalent State Documents
    Section 17(k) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 666(k), defines a violation 
as serious, in relevant part, "if there is a substantial probability 
that [the hazard created by the violation could result in] death or 
serious physical harm... unless the employer did not, and could not 
with the exercise of reasonable diligence know" of the existence of 
the violation. This standard is used by enforcement agencies to 
classify OSH Act and OSHA-Approved State Plan violations that are 
enforced through citations or equivalent State documents. In light of 
this clear statutory definition and the Order's directive to 
incorporate statutory standards where they exist, OSH Act violations 
that are enforced through citations are considered serious under the 
Order if--and only if--the relevant enforcement agency designated the 
citation or equivalent State document as such.\105\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \105\ The relevant enforcement agency will either be OSHA, a 
State Plan agency, or WHD, which enforces violations of the OSH 
Act's field sanitation and temporary labor camp standards in States 
that do not have a State Plan.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The OSH Act also includes prohibitions that are not enforced 
through citations or equivalent State documents. Under the 
classification process in the Order, such violations are considered 
"serious" if they meet any of the other criteria for serious 
violations listed below in subsections (b)(i) through (b)(ix) and 
listed above in category (b). For example, the OSH Act prohibits 
retaliating against workers for exercising any right under the Act. 
29 U.S.C. 660(c). OSH Act retaliation violations are enforced through 
complaints in Federal court, not through citations; and OSHA 
does not make any designation for them (serious or otherwise). As with 
retaliation under any of the Labor Laws, such a violation should be 
classified as "serious," even though OSHA has not designated it as 
"serious." See Section III(A)(1)(b)(vi).
b. Other Violations of the Labor Laws
    For violations of the Labor Laws other than OSH Act or OSHA-
Approved State Plan violations that are enforced through citations and 
equivalent State documents, violations are serious if they meet any one 
of the following criteria:
i. Violation Affects at Least 10 Workers Comprising at Least 25 Percent 
of the Contractor's Workforce at the Worksite or Overall
    Consistent with the Order's directive to consider the number of 
employees affected, a violation is serious if it affected at least 10 
workers who together made up 25 percent or more of the contractor's 
workforce at the worksite or 25 percent or more of the contractor's 
workforce overall.
    For purposes of this 25 percent threshold, "workforce" means all 
individuals on the contractor's payroll at the time of the violation, 
whether full-time or part-time. It does not include workers of another 
entity, unless the underlying violation of the Labor Laws includes a 
finding that the contractor is a joint employer of the workers that the 
other entity employs at the worksite. For example, assuming no joint 
employer relationships exist, if a contractor employs 40 workers at a 
worksite, then a violation is serious if it affects at least 10 of the 
contractor's workers at the site, even if other companies also employ 
an additional 40 workers at the same site.
    For purposes of this 25 percent threshold, "worksite" means the 
physical location or group of locations where the workers affected by 
the violations work and where the contractor conducts its business. For 
example, if the contractor conducts its business at a single building, 
or a single office within an office building, that building or office 
will be the worksite. However, if the contractor conducts business 
activities in several offices in one building, or in several buildings 
in one campus or industrial park, the worksite consists of all of the 
offices or buildings in which the business is conducted. On the other 
hand, if a contractor has two office buildings in different parts of 
the same city, or in different cities, then those office buildings are 
considered to be separate worksites. For violations that affect workers 
with no fixed worksite, such as construction workers, transportation 
workers, workers who perform services at various customers' locations, 
and workers who regularly telework, the worksite is the site to which 
they are assigned as their home base, from which their work is 
assigned, or to which they report.
    For purposes of this 25 percent threshold, "affected workers" 
means the workers who were individually impacted by the violation. For 
example, affected workers include workers who were not paid wages due; 
were denied leave or benefits; were denied a job, a promotion, or other 
benefits due to discrimination; or were harmed by an unlawful policy.
ii. Fines, Penalties, and Back Wages
    Consistent with the Order's directive to take into account "the 
amount of damages incurred or fines or penalties assessed," a 
violation is serious if $5,000 or more in fines and penalties, or 
$10,000 or more in back wages, were due.
    "Fines and penalties" are monetary penalties imposed by a 
government agency. They do not include back wages, compensatory 
damages, liquidated damages, or punitive damages. For purposes of 
determining whether the $10,000 back wages threshold is met, 
compensatory damages, liquidated damages under the FLSA,\106\ and 
statutory damages under MSPA should be included as back wages.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \106\ Liquidated damages under the FLSA are included in the 
calculation of back wages because they are compensatory in nature, 
intended to serve as a substitute for "damages too obscure and 
difficult of proof for estimate other than by liquidated damages." 
Overnight Motor Transp. Co. v. Missel, 316 U.S. 572, 583-84 (1942).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The threshold amounts for back wages, fines, and penalties are 
measured by the amount "due." This will usually be the amount 
originally assessed by an enforcement agency or found due by a court, 
arbitrator, or arbitral panel. However, if the original amount is later 
reduced by an enforcement agency, arbitrator, arbitral panel, or court, 
the reduced amount is used. For example, if the Department files a 
civil complaint in an FLSA case seeking $15,000 in back wages but a 
court awards only $8,000, then the violation will not be serious under 
this criterion because the $8,000 figure falls below the $10,000 
threshold for back wages. Similarly, if an administrative merits 
determination assesses $6,000 in civil monetary penalties against a 
contractor but later the enforcement agency and contractor reach a 
settlement for the reduced amount of $4,000, then the underlying 
violation is not serious because the settlement amount fell below the 
$5,000 threshold for fines and penalties. In contrast, if, for example, 
the contractor files for bankruptcy and cannot pay the full amount, or 
simply refuses to pay such that the full penalty is never collected, 
the original assessed amount is the amount that matters for classifying 
the violation under this criterion.
    When considering whether these thresholds are met, the total fines 
and penalties or the total back wages resulting from the Labor Law 
violation should be considered. Thus, for example, where a wage-and-
hour violation affected multiple workers, the back wages due to each 
worker involved in the claim must be added together to see if the 
cumulative amount meets the $10,000 back-wage threshold. Similarly, in 
cases where multiple provisions of a Labor Law have been violated, the 
fines, penalties, and back wages due should not be parsed and 
separately attributed to each provision violated. For example, if the 
Department's FLSA investigation discloses violations of the FLSA's 
minimum wage and overtime provisions and back wages are due for both 
violations, the total back wages due determines whether the $10,000 
threshold is met. Likewise, if an investigation discloses six 
violations of the same MSPA provision or violations of six different 
MSPA provisions and each violation results in civil monetary penalties 
of $1,000, the MSPA violation is serious because the penalties total 
$6,000.
    This criterion only applies if the Labor Law decision includes an 
amount of back wages or fines or penalties. Thus, for example, if an 
enforcement agency issues an administrative merits determination that 
does not include an amount of fines or penalties assessed or of back 
wages due, then an ALCA cannot classify the violation as serious using 
this criterion until the amount has been determined. For example, if 
the EEOC files a complaint in Federal court seeking back wages but does 
not specify the amount, then this criterion cannot be the basis for 
classifying the violation as serious, though the violation could be 
serious under one of the other listed criteria.
iii. Any Violations That Cause or Contribute to Death or Serious Injury
    Consistent with the Order's directive to consider "the degree of 
risk posed or actual harm done by the violation to health, safety, or 
well-being of a worker," any violation of the Labor Laws that causes or 
contributes to the death or serious injury of one or more workers is serious 
under the Order. For the purpose of this classification criterion, "serious 
injury" means an injury that requires the care of a medical 
professional beyond first-aid treatment or results in more than five 
days of missed work.
iv. Employment of Minors Who Are Too Young To Be Legally Employed or in 
Violation of a Hazardous Occupations Order
    Consistent with the Order's directive to consider "the degree of 
risk posed or actual harm done by the violation to health, safety, or 
well-being of a worker," any violation of the FLSA's child labor 
provisions where the minor is too young to be legally employed or is 
employed in violation of any of the Secretary's Hazardous Occupations 
Orders is a serious violation. Such violations do not include 
situations where minors are permitted to perform the work at issue but 
have performed the work outside the hours permitted by law. Rather, it 
refers to minors who, by virtue of their age, are legally prohibited 
from being employed or are not permitted to be employed to perform the 
work at all. Thus, serious violations include, for example: The 
employment of any minor under the age of 18 to perform a hazardous non-
agricultural job, any minor under the age of 16 to perform a hazardous 
farm job, or any minor under the age of 14 to perform non-farm work 
where he or she does not meet a statutory exception otherwise 
permitting the work. This reflects the particularly serious dangers 
that can result from the prohibited employment of underage minors. 
Conversely, it is not a serious violation for the purposes of the Order 
where the contractor has employed a 14 or 15 year-old minor in excess 
of 3 hours outside school hours on a school day, in a non-hazardous, 
non-agricultural job in which the child is otherwise permitted to 
work--even though the work violates the FLSA's child labor provisions.
v. Notices of Failure To Abate and Imminent Danger Notices
    Under the OSH Act and OSHA-approved State Plans, enforcement 
agencies may issue notices of failure to abate and imminent danger 
notices. Notices of failure to abate are issued when an employer has 
failed to remedy a violative condition despite having received a 
citation, unless that citation is being contested. See 29 CFR 1903.18. 
A notice of failure to abate a violation is a serious violation because 
failing to correct a hazard after receiving formal notification of the 
need to do so represents a serious disregard of the law.
    Imminent danger notices are issued when "a danger exists which 
could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm 
immediately or before the imminence of such danger can be eliminated 
through the enforcement procedures otherwise provided by [the OSH 
Act]." 29 U.S.C. 662(a). Because such notices are issued only for 
violations that imminently threaten to cause death or serious physical 
harm, imminent danger notices are by definition issued only for serious 
violations of the OSH Act, and thus constitute serious violations under 
the Order.
vi. Retaliation
    Consistent with the Order's directive to consider "the degree of 
risk posed or actual harm done by the violation to health, safety, or 
well-being of a worker," a violation involving retaliation is a 
serious violation. For these purposes, retaliation means that the 
contractor has engaged in an adverse employment action against one or 
more workers for exercising any right protected by the Labor Laws. An 
adverse employment action means conduct that may dissuade a reasonable 
worker from engaging in protected activity under the Labor Laws, such 
as a discharge, refusal to hire, suspension, demotion, unlawful 
harassment, or threats.\107\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \107\ See Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 
53, 68 (2006) (holding that for purposes of Title VII, retaliation 
requires that "a reasonable employee would have found the 
challenged action materially adverse, which in this context means it 
well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or 
supporting a charge of discrimination") (internal citations 
omitted).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Examples of retaliation include, but are not limited to, 
disciplining workers for attempting to organize a union; firing or 
demoting workers who take leave under the FMLA; and threatening workers 
with adverse consequences--such as termination or referral to 
immigration or criminal authorities--for reporting potential violations 
of Labor Laws, testifying in enforcement matters, or otherwise 
exercising any right protected by the Labor Laws. These are serious 
violations because they both reflect a disregard by the contractor for 
its obligations under the Labor Laws and undermine the effectiveness of 
the Labor Laws by making workers reluctant to exercise their rights for 
fear of retaliation.
vii. Pattern or Practice of Discrimination or Systemic Discrimination
    Consistent with the Order's directive to consider "the degree of 
risk posed or actual harm done by the violation to health, safety, or 
well-being of a worker," a violation is serious if the contractor 
engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination or systemic 
discrimination. This criterion is generally expected to apply to 
violations of Executive Order 11246, section 503 of the Rehabilitation 
Act, VEVRAA, Title VII, section 6(d) of the FLSA (the Equal Pay Act), 
the ADA, and the ADEA.
    A pattern or practice of discrimination involves intentional 
discrimination against a protected group of applicants or employees 
that reflects the employer's standard operating procedure, the regular 
rather than the unusual practice,\108\ and not discrimination that 
occurs in an isolated fashion.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \108\ See Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 
324, 336 (1977).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Systemic discrimination involves a pattern or practice, policy, or 
class case where the discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, 
profession, company, or geographic area. Examples include policies and 
practices that effectuate discriminatory hiring barriers; restrictions 
on access to higher level jobs in violation of any applicable anti-
discrimination law; unlawful pre-employment inquiries regarding 
disabilities; and discriminatory placement or assignments that are made 
to comply with customer preferences.
    Systemic discrimination also includes policies and practices that 
are seemingly neutral but may cause a disparate impact on protected 
groups. Examples include pre-employment tests used for selection 
purposes; height, weight or lifting requirements or restrictions; 
compensation practices and policies; and performance evaluation 
policies and practices. Systemic discrimination cases may be, but need 
not be, the subject of class action litigation.
viii. Interference With Investigations
    Labor Law violations in which the contractor engaged in 
interference with the enforcement agency's investigation also are 
serious under the Order. Interference can take a number of forms, but 
for purposes of this criterion it is limited to violations involving 
the following circumstances:
    (1) A civil judgment was issued holding the contractor in contempt 
for failing to provide information or physical access to an enforcement 
agency in the course of an investigation; or
    (2) It is readily ascertainable from the Labor Law decision that 
the contractor--
    (a) Falsified, knowingly made a false statement in, or destroyed 
records to frustrate an investigation under the Labor Laws;
    (b) Knowingly made false representations to an investigator; or
    (c) Took or threatened to take adverse actions against workers (for 
example, termination, reduction in salary or benefits, or referral to 
immigration or criminal authorities) for cooperating with or speaking 
to government investigators or for otherwise complying with an agency's 
investigation (for example, threatening workers if they do not return 
back wages received as the result of an investigation).
    Like retaliation, interference with investigations is intentional 
conduct that frustrates the enforcement of the Labor Laws and therefore 
is a serious violation.
ix. Material Breaches and Violations of Settlements, Labor Compliance 
Agreements, or Orders
    Labor Law violations involving a breach of the material terms of 
any settlement, labor compliance agreement, court or administrative 
order, or arbitral award are serious violations under the Order. Such 
violations are serious because contractors are expected to comply with 
orders by a court or administrative agency and to adhere to the terms 
of any agreements or settlements into which it enters. A contractor's 
failure to do so may indicate that it will similarly disregard its 
contractual obligations to, or agreements with, a contracting agency, 
which could result in delays, increased costs, and other adverse 
consequences. A contractor will not, however, be found to have 
committed a serious violation if the agreement, settlement, award, or 
order in question has been stayed, reversed, or vacated.
c. Table of Examples
    For a table containing selected examples of serious violations, see 
Appendix A.
2. Repeated Violations
    The Order provides that the standard for repeated should 
"incorporate existing statutory standards" to the extent such 
standards exist. Order, section 4(b)(i)(A). It further provides that, 
where no statutory standards exist, the standards for repeated should 
take into account "whether the entity has had one or more additional 
violations of the same or a substantially similar requirement in the 
past 3 years." Id. section 4(b)(i)(B)(2). None of the Labor Laws 
contains an explicit statutory definition of the term "repeated." 
Accordingly, a violation is "repeated" under the Order if:
    a. For a violation of the OSH Act or an OSHA-approved State Plan 
that was enforced through a citation or an equivalent State document, 
the citation at issue was designated as "repeated," "repeat," or 
any equivalent State designation and the prior violation that formed 
the basis for the repeated violation became a final order of the OSHRC 
or equivalent State agency no more than 3 years before the repeated 
violation;
    b. For all other Labor Law violations, the contractor has committed 
a violation that is the same as or substantially similar to a prior 
violation of the Labor Laws that was the subject of a separate 
investigation or proceeding arising from a separate set of facts, and 
became uncontested or adjudicated within the previous 3 years. The 
following is an exhaustive list of violations that are substantially 
similar to each other for these purposes:
    1. For the FLSA:
    i. Any two violations of the FLSA's child labor provisions; or
    ii. Any two violations of the FLSA's provision requiring break time 
for nursing mothers.
    2. For the FLSA, DBA, SCA, and Executive Order 13658:
    i. Any two violations of these statutes' minimum wage, subminimum 
wage, overtime, or prevailing wages provisions, even if they arise 
under different statutes.
    3. For the FMLA:
    i. Any two violations of the FMLA's notice requirements; or
    ii. Any two violations of the FMLA other than its notice 
requirements.
    4. For the MSPA:
    i. Any two violations of the MSPA's requirements pertaining to 
wages, supplies, and working arrangements;
    ii. Any two violations of the MSPA's requirements related to health 
and safety;
    iii. Any two violations of the MSPA's disclosure and recordkeeping 
requirements; or
    iv. Any two violations related to the MSPA's registration 
requirements.
    5. For the NLRA:
    i. Any two violations of the same numbered subsection of section 
8(a) of the NLRA.
    6. For Title VII, section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 
the ADA, the ADEA, section 6(d) of the FLSA (known as the Equal Pay 
Act, 29 U.S.C. 206(d)), Executive Order 11246 of September 24, 1965, 
the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972, and the 
Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974:
    i. Any two violations, even if they arise under different statutes, 
if both violations involve:
    1. the same protected status, and
    2. at least one of the following elements in common:
    a. the same employment practice, or,
    b. the same worksite.
    7. For all of the Labor Laws, including those listed above, even if 
the violations arise under different statutes:
    i. Any two violations involving retaliation;
    ii. Any two failures to keep records required under the Labor Laws; 
or
    iii. Any two failures to post notices required under the Labor 
Laws.
    Further guidance for applying these criteria is included below:
a. OSH Act and OSHA-Approved State Plan Violations Enforced Through 
Citations or Equivalent State Documents
    The terms "repeated" and "repeat" have well-established 
meanings under the OSH Act with regard to violations that are enforced 
through citations. Such violations are "repeated" "if, at the time 
of the alleged repeated violation, there was [an Occupational Safety 
and Health Review Commission] final order against the same employer for 
a substantially similar violation." Potlatch Corp., 7 O.S.H. Cas. 
(BNA) 1061 (O.S.H.R.C. 1979). This term is generally defined similarly 
under OSHA-approved State Plans.\109\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \109\ See generally "What Constitutes 'Repeated' or 'Willful' 
Violation for Purposes of State Occupational Safety and Health 
Acts," 17 A.L.R.6th 715 (originally published in 2006).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As such, under the OSH Act or an OSHA-approved State Plan, if a 
citation or equivalent State document designates a violation as 
"repeated," "repeat," or any equivalent State designation, the 
violation will be repeated for purposes of the Order provided that the 
prior violation became a final order of OSHRC or the equivalent State 
agency within 3 years of the repeated violation. Even though, under 
current OSHA policy, repeated violations take into account a 5-year 
period, the 3-year timeframe conforms to the Order's direction that the 
standards for repeated violations should take into account "whether 
the entity has had one or more additional violations of the same or a 
substantially similar requirement in the past 3 years." Order, section 
4(b)(i)(B)(2).
b. All Other Violations
    For all Labor Law violations other than OSH Act and OSHA-approved 
State Plan violations enforced through citations or equivalent State 
documents, a violation is repeated if it is the same as, or substantially 
similar to, a prior violation of the Labor Laws by the contractor that 
was the subject of a separate investigation or proceeding arising from a 
separate set of facts, and became uncontested or adjudicated within the 
previous 3 years. These terms are explained in greater detail below.
i. Prior Violation Must Have Been Uncontested or Adjudicated
    For a violation to be classified as "repeated," a prior violation 
must be either uncontested or adjudicated. Only the prior violation 
need be uncontested or adjudicated when determining whether a violation 
is repeated. The subsequent violation--the one to be classified as 
"repeated"--does not need to have been uncontested or adjudicated. 
These terms are explained below.
    An uncontested violation is a violation that is reflected in:
    (2) A Labor Law decision that the contractor has not contested or 
challenged within the time limit provided in the Labor Law decision or 
otherwise required by law; or
    (3) A Labor Law decision following which the contractor agrees to 
at least some of the relief sought by the agency in its enforcement 
action.
    An adjudicated violation is one that is reflected in:
    (1) a civil judgment;
    (2) an arbitral award or decision; or
    (3) an administrative merits determination that constitutes a final 
agency order by an administrative adjudicative authority following a 
proceeding in which the contractor had an opportunity to present 
evidence or arguments on its behalf.
    As used in the above definition of an adjudicated violation, 
"administrative adjudicative authority" means an administrative body 
empowered to hear adversary proceedings, such as the ARB, the OSHRC, or 
the NLRB. ALJs are also administrative adjudicative authorities; 
however, their decisions will only constitute adjudicated violations if 
they are adopted as final agency orders. This typically will occur, for 
example, if the party subject to an adverse decision by an ALJ does not 
file a timely appeal to the agency's administrative appellate body, 
such as those referenced above.
    For an ALCA to classify a subsequent violation as "repeated," the 
prior violation must be uncontested or adjudicated before the date of 
the Labor Law decision for the subsequent violation.
    An example illustrating the above principles follows:
    When WHD sends a contractor a letter finding that the contractor 
violated the DBA, if the contractor wishes to contest the violation, it 
must request a hearing in writing within 30 days. 29 CFR 5.11(b)(2). If 
the contractor timely requests a hearing, then the matter may proceed 
to a hearing before an ALJ, id. 5.11(b)(3), and, if necessary, the 
contractor may appeal to the ARB, id. 6.34. While these proceedings are 
pending, WHD's letter, by itself, cannot be a prior violation because 
it is neither uncontested nor adjudicated. Thus, if the contractor, 
during the pendency of those proceedings, receives a second letter from 
WHD finding that the contractor committed a substantially similar 
violation, the second violation would not be classified as repeated. 
However, once the ARB renders its decision, representing a final order 
of the Department of Labor, the first violation is considered 
adjudicated. If, after the ARB decision, the contractor receives a 
second letter about a second substantially similar violation, that 
second violation would be classified as a repeated violation under the 
Order, regardless of whether the second violation is uncontested or 
adjudicated.
    The first letter may also become "uncontested" if the contractor 
agrees in a settlement to pay some or all of the back wages due. Thus, 
if the contractor agrees to such a settlement at any time after 
receiving the first letter, and the contractor subsequently receives a 
second letter from WHD finding that the contractor committed a second, 
substantially similar violation, then the second violation would be 
classified as repeated, regardless of whether the second violation is 
uncontested or adjudicated.
    This framework is intended to ensure that violations will only be 
classified as repeated when the contractor has had the opportunity--
even if not exercised--to present facts or arguments in its defense 
before an adjudicative authority concerning the prior violation.
ii. 3-Year Look-Back Period
    For a violation to be classified as "repeated," the prior 
violation must have become uncontested or adjudicated no more than 3 
years prior to the date of the repeated violation--the 3-year look-back 
period. The "date" of the repeated violation is the date of the 
relevant civil judgment, arbitral award or decision, or administrative 
merits determination (e.g. Labor Law decision) is issued.\110\ For 
example, if the contractor's offer is dated March 1, 2019, then the 
contractor must disclose all Labor Law decisions within the 3-year 
disclosure period prior to the date of the offer, between March 1, 
2016, and March 1, 2019. However, if one of the contractor's disclosed 
decisions is dated June 8, 2018, then the 3-year look-back period for 
determining whether that violation identified in the decision should be 
classified as repeated extends back to June 8, 2015.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \110\ This means that the 3-year timeframe for determining 
whether a violation is repeated (the 3-year look-back period) is 
different from the 3-year timeframe within which all Labor Law 
decisions must be disclosed under the Order (the 3-year disclosure 
period), which is the 3 years prior to the date of the contractor's 
offer.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The relevant date for determining whether a prior violation falls 
within the 3-year look-back period is the date that the prior violation 
becomes uncontested or adjudicated. A prior violation becomes 
uncontested either on the date on which any time period to contest the 
violation has expired, or on the date of the contractor's agreement to 
at least some of the relief sought by the agency in its enforcement 
action (e.g., the date a settlement agreement is signed), whichever is 
applicable. A prior violation becomes adjudicated on the date on which 
the violation first becomes a civil judgment, arbitral award or 
decision, or a final agency order by an administrative adjudicative 
authority following a proceeding in which the contractor had an 
opportunity to present evidence or arguments on its behalf. Thus, for a 
violation that is the subject of successive adjudications, the dates of 
subsequent appellate decisions are not relevant.
    For example, if OFCCP issues a show cause notice to a contractor on 
January 1, 2017, and the contractor contests the violation, resulting 
in an ALJ determination on January 1, 2018, an ARB determination on 
January 1, 2019, a civil judgment by a district court on January 1, 
2020, and a civil judgment by a court of appeals on January 1, 2021, 
then the relevant date of the prior violation would be the January 1, 
2019 date of the ARB order. This date is the relevant date because this 
is the date on which the violation becomes a final agency order by the 
ARB, and therefore first becomes an adjudicated violation--even though 
it is later adjudicated again in the civil judgments of the district 
court and court of appeals. That ARB order could therefore serve as a 
prior violation for any subsequent substantially similar violation for 
which a Labor Law decision is issued after January 1, 2019 and prior to 
January 1, 2022.

iii. Separate Investigations or Proceedings
    The prior violation must be the subject of a separate investigation 
or proceeding arising from a separate set of facts. Thus, for example, 
if one investigation discloses that a contractor violated the FLSA and 
the OSH Act, or committed multiple violations of any one of the Labor 
Laws, such violations would not be "repeated" simply because of the 
other violations found in the same investigation.
iv. Prior Violation Must Be Committed by the Same Legal Entity
    The prior violation must have been committed by the contractor, 
considered on a company-wide basis. Thus, a prior violation by any 
establishment of a multi-establishment company can render subsequent 
violations repeated, provided the other relevant criteria are 
satisfied, as long as the violation was committed by the same legal 
entity.\111\ As discussed below, the relative size of the contractor as 
compared to the number of violations may be a mitigating factor.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \111\ However, as noted below, as to the anti-discrimination 
Labor Laws specifically, whether a violation was committed at the 
same worksite as a prior violation is one factor that can affect 
whether the two violations are substantially similar to each other.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

v. Substantially Similar Violations
    The prior violation must be the same as or substantially similar to 
the violation designated as repeated. Substantially similar does not 
mean "exactly the same." United States v. Washam, 312 F.3d 926, 930-
31 (8th Cir. 2002). Rather, two things may be substantially similar 
where they share "'essential elements in common."' Alameda Mall, L.P. 
v. Shoe Show, Inc., 649 F.3d 389, 392-93 (5th Cir. 2011) (quoting the 
dictionary definition of the term).
    Whether violations fall under the same Labor Law is not necessarily 
determinative of whether the requirements underlying those violations 
are substantially similar. Rather, as set forth in greater details 
below, whether a violation is substantially similar to a past violation 
turns on the nature of the violation and underlying obligation itself. 
The following definitions outline when, under the Order, a violation 
will be substantially similar to a prior violation (with the exception 
of OSH Act and OSHA State Plan violations enforced through a citation, 
which are addressed above):
FLSA
    Any two violations of the FLSA's child labor provisions are 
substantially similar to each other. This reflects the treatment of 
such violations as "repeated" for purposes of civil monetary 
penalties in 29 CFR 579.2. Additionally, any two violations of the 
FLSA's provision requiring break time for nursing mothers are 
substantially similar to each other.
FLSA, DBA, SCA, and Executive Order 13658
    Any violations of the minimum wage, subminimum wage, overtime, or 
prevailing wage requirements of the FLSA, DBA, SCA, and Executive Order 
13658 are substantially similar to each other, even if the violations 
arise under different statutes.\112\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \112\ This treatment is consistent with the FLSA's regulations, 
which treat any two minimum wage or overtime violations as 
"repeated." See 29 CFR 578.3(b). This regulatory provision 
recognizes that two failures to pay wages mandated by law are 
substantially similar, even if they involve different specific 
obligations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FMLA
    Any two FMLA violations are substantially similar to each other 
under the Order, with the exception of violations of the notice 
requirements. Thus, denial of leave, retaliation, discrimination, 
failure to reinstate an employee to the same or an equivalent position, 
and failure to maintain group health insurance are all substantially 
similar, given that each violation involves either denying FMLA leave 
or penalizing an employee who takes leave. Conversely, any two 
instances of failure to provide notice--such as failure to provide 
general notice via a poster or a failure to notify individual employees 
regarding their eligibility status, rights, and responsibilities--are 
substantially similar to each other, but not to other violations of the 
FMLA.
MSPA
    For violations of the MSPA, multiple violations of the statute's 
requirements pertaining to wages, supplies, and working arrangements 
(including, for example, failure to pay wages when due, prohibitions 
against requiring workers to purchase goods or services solely from 
particular contractors, employers, or associations, and violating the 
terms of any working arrangements) are substantially similar to each 
other for purposes of the Order. Likewise, violations of any of the 
MSPA's requirements related to health and safety, including both 
housing and transportation health and safety, are substantially similar 
to each other. Violations of the statute's disclosure and recordkeeping 
requirements are also substantially similar to each other. Finally, 
multiple violations related to the MSPA's registration requirements are 
substantially similar to each other.
NLRA
    For NLRA violations, any two violations of the same numbered 
subsection of section 8(a) of the NLRA, 29 U.S.C. 158(a), are 
substantially similar. For example, any two violations of section 
8(a)(3), which prohibits employers from discriminating against 
employees for engaging in or refusing to engage in union activities, 
are substantially similar. Likewise, any two violations of section 
8(a)(2), which prohibits employers from dominating or assisting labor 
unions through financial support or otherwise, are substantially 
similar to each other.
The Anti-Discrimination Labor Laws
    For purposes of the anti-discrimination Labor Laws,\113\ violations 
are substantially similar if they involve both of the following 
elements, even if they arise under different statutes:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \113\ Title VII, section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 
the ADA, the ADEA, section 6(d) of the FLSA (known as the Equal Pay 
Act, 29 U.S.C. 206(d)), Executive Order 11246 of September 24, 1965, 
the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972, and 
the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (1) the same protected status, and
    (2) at least one of the following elements in common:
    a. the same employment practice, e.g., hiring, firing, harassment, 
compensation, or,
    b. the same worksite.
    With regard to the first element, violations are considered to 
involve the "same" protected status as long as the same status is 
present in both violations, even if other protected statuses may be 
involved as well. For example, if the first violation involves 
discrimination on the basis of national origin and the second violation 
involves discrimination on the basis of national origin and race, the 
violations are substantially similar because they involve the same 
protected status, namely, discrimination on the basis of national 
origin. Additionally, in this context, violations involving 
discrimination on the bases of sex, pregnancy, gender identity 
(including transgender status), and sex stereotyping are considered to 
involve the "same" protected status for the purpose of determining 
whether violations are substantially similar under the Order.
    For the purpose of determining whether violations involve the same
worksite, the definition of "worksite" set forth in the discussion of 
the 25 percent criterion for a serious violation should be used, see 
Section III(A)(1)(b)(i), except that any two company-wide violations 
are also considered to involve the same worksite.
All of the Labor Laws
    For all of the Labor Laws, including those referenced above, any 
two violations involving retaliation are substantially similar. 
Likewise, any two failures to keep records required under the Labor 
Laws are substantially similar. And, any two failures to post notices 
required under the Labor Laws are substantially similar.

c. Table of Examples

    For a table containing selected examples of repeated violations, 
see Appendix B.
3. Willful Violations
    The Order provides that the standard for what constitutes a 
"willful" violation should "incorporate existing statutory 
standards" to the extent such standards exist. Order, section 
4(b)(i)(A). The Order further provides that, where no statutory 
standards exist, the standard for willful should take into account 
"whether the entity knew of, showed reckless disregard for, or acted 
with plain indifference to the matter of whether its conduct was 
prohibited by the requirements of the [Labor Laws]." Order, section 
4(b)(i)(B)(3).
    Accordingly, a violation is "willful" under the Order if:
    a. For purposes of OSH Act or OSHA-approved State Plan violations 
that are enforced through citations or equivalent State documents, the 
citation or equivalent State document was designated as willful or any 
equivalent State designation (e.g., "knowing");
    b. For purposes of the minimum wage, overtime, and child labor 
provisions of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. 206-207, 212, the administrative 
merits determination sought or assessed back wages for greater than 2 
years or sought or assessed civil monetary penalties for a willful 
violation, or there was a civil judgment or arbitral award or decision 
finding that the contractor's violation was willful;
    c. For purposes of the ADEA, the enforcement agency, court, 
arbitrator, or arbitral panel assessed or awarded liquidated damages;
    d. For purposes of Title VII or the ADA, the enforcement agency, 
court, arbitrator, or arbitral panel assessed or awarded punitive 
damages for a violation where the contractor engaged in a 
discriminatory practice with malice or reckless indifference to the 
federally protected rights of an aggrieved individual; or
    e. For purposes of any other violations of the Labor Laws, it is 
readily ascertainable from the findings of the relevant enforcement 
agency, court, arbitrator, or arbitral panel that the contractor knew 
that its conduct was prohibited by any of the Labor Laws or showed 
reckless disregard for, or acted with plain indifference to, whether 
its conduct was prohibited by one or more requirements of the Labor 
Laws.
    In the above definition, the Department incorporates existing 
standards, statutory or otherwise, from the Labor Laws that are 
indicative of willfulness as defined under the Order.
    Further guidance for applying these criteria is included below:
a. OSH Act or OSHA-Approved State Plan Violations Enforced Through 
Citations or Equivalent State Documents
    The term "willful" has a well-established meaning under the OSH 
Act that is consistent with the standard provided in the Order. Under 
the OSH Act, a violation that is enforced through a citation or 
equivalent State document will be designated as willful where an 
employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the 
requirements of the OSH Act or a plain indifference to its 
requirements. See A.E. Staley Mfg. Co. v. Sec'y of Labor, 295 F.3d 
1341, 1351-52 (D.C. Cir. 2002). For example, if an employer knows that 
specific steps must be taken to address a hazard, but substitutes its 
own judgment for the requirements of the legal standard, the violation 
will be designated as willful. OSHA-approved State Plans generally use 
this term in a similar way.\114\ As such, as noted above, under the OSH 
Act or an OSHA-approved State Plan, if a citation or equivalent State 
document designates a violation as "willful" or an equivalent State 
designation (e.g., "knowing"), the violation will be willful for 
purposes of the Order.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \114\ See generally Randy Sutton, "What Constitutes 'Repeated' 
or 'Willful' Violation for Purposes of State Occupational Safety and 
Health Acts," 17 A.L.R.6th 715 (originally published in 2006).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

b. Violations of the Minimum Wage, Overtime, and Child Labor Provisions 
of the FLSA
    The term "willful" has a well-established meaning under the FLSA 
that is consistent with the standard provided in the Order. Under the 
minimum wage, overtime, and child labor provisions of the FLSA, 29 
U.S.C. 206-207, 212, a violation is willful where the employer knew 
that its conduct was prohibited by the FLSA or showed reckless 
disregard for the FLSA's requirements. See 29 CFR 578.3(c)(1), 579.2; 
McLaughlin v. Richland Shoe Co., 486 U.S. 128, 133 (1988). For example, 
an employer that requires workers to "clock out" after 40 hours in a 
workweek and then continue working "off the clock" or pays workers 
for 40 hours by check and then pays them in cash at a straight-time 
rate for hours worked over 40 commits a willful violation of the FLSA's 
overtime requirements. These actions show knowledge of the FLSA's 
requirements to pay time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 and an 
attempt to evade that requirement by concealing records of the workers' 
actual hours worked.
    Under the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA, willful 
violations are grounds for administrative assessments of back wages for 
greater than 2 years, and for the assessment of civil monetary 
penalties. See 29 U.S.C. 216(e)(2); cf. 29 U.S.C. 255(a). Additionally, 
under the FLSA's child labor provisions, willful violations are also 
grounds for increased civil monetary penalties. See 29 U.S.C. 
216(e)(1)(A)(ii); 29 CFR 579.5(c). Accordingly, administrative 
assessments of back wages for greater than 2 years and assessments of 
civil monetary penalties for willful violations are understood to 
reflect a finding of willfulness and therefore will be considered 
indicative of willfulness under the Order.\115\ Courts and arbitrators 
must also make findings of willfulness in order to extend the statute 
of limitations beyond 2 years under the FLSA's minimum wage and 
overtime provisions, or to affirm assessments of civil monetary 
penalties of the FLSA's minimum wage, overtime, or child labor 
provisions. See 29 U.S.C. 216(e)(1)(A)(ii), 216(e)(2), 216(e)(3)(C), 
255(a). Thus, any civil judgment or arbitral award or decision finding 
that the contractor committed a willful FLSA violation will be 
classified as a willful violation under the Order.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \115\ Civil monetary penalties may be assessed under the FLSA's 
minimum wage and overtime provisions for violations that are either 
repeated or willful, and civil monetary penalties may be assessed 
for child labor violations even in the absence of a repeated or 
willful violation. Only civil monetary penalties involving willful 
violations will constitute willful violations under the Order.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

c. Violations of the ADEA
    The term "willful" also has a well-established meaning under the 
ADEA that is consistent with the standard provided in the Order. Under 
the ADEA, a violation is willful when the employer knew or showed reckless 
disregard for the matter of whether its conduct was prohibited by the 
ADEA. See Trans World Airlines v. Thurston, 469 U.S. 111, 126 (1985). 
Willful violations are required for liquidated damages to be assessed 
or awarded under the ADEA. See 29 U.S.C. 626(b). Accordingly, any 
violation of the ADEA in which the enforcement agency, court, 
arbitrator, or arbitral panel assessed or awarded liquidated damages is 
understood to reflect a finding of willfulness and therefore will be 
considered indicative of a willful violation under the Order.
d. Title VII and the ADA
    Violations of Title VII or the ADA are "willful" under the Order 
if the enforcement agency, court, arbitrator, or arbitral panel 
assessed or awarded punitive damages for a violation where the 
contractor engaged in a discriminatory practice with malice or reckless 
indifference to the federally protected rights of an aggrieved 
individual. Punitive damages are appropriate in cases under Title VII 
or the ADA where the employer engaged in intentional discrimination 
with "malice or reckless indifference to the federally protected 
rights of an aggrieved individual." 42 U.S.C. 1981a(b)(1). This 
standard is analogous to the standard for willful violations in the 
Order. An employer acts with malice or reckless indifference if a 
managerial agent of the employer, acting within the scope of 
employment, makes a decision that was in the face of a perceived risk 
of violating Federal law, and the employer cannot prove that the 
manager's action was contrary to the employer's good faith efforts to 
comply with Federal law. See Kolstad v. American Dental Ass'n, 527 U.S. 
526, 536, 545 (1999). For example, if a manager received a complaint of 
sexual harassment but failed to report it or investigate it--and the 
employer's anti-harassment policy was ineffective in protecting the 
employees' rights or the employer did not engage in good faith efforts 
to educate its managerial staff about sexual harassment--then the 
violation would warrant punitive damages and qualify as "willful" 
under the Order. See, e.g., EEOC v. Mgmt. Hospitality of Racine, Inc., 
666 F.3d 422, 438-39 (7th Cir. 2012).
e. Any Other Violations of the Labor Laws
    For any violations of Labor Laws other than violations discussed 
above in subsections (a) through (d), a violation is willful for 
purposes of the Order if it is readily ascertainable from the findings 
of the relevant enforcement agency, court, arbitrator, or arbitral 
panel that the contractor knew that its conduct was prohibited by the 
Labor Laws or showed reckless disregard for, or acted with plain 
indifference to, whether its conduct was prohibited by Labor Laws.\116\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \116\ Nothing in this guidance is intended to affect the 
terminology or operation of FAR part 22.4.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A contractor need not act with malice for a violation to be 
classified as willful; rather, the focus is on whether it is readily 
ascertainable from the Labor Law decision that, based on all of the 
facts and circumstances discussed in the findings, the contractor acted 
with knowledge of or reckless disregard for its legal requirements. The 
Labor Law decision need not include the specific words "knowledge," 
"reckless disregard," or "plain indifference"; however, it must be 
readily ascertainable from the factual findings or legal conclusions 
contained in the decision that the violation meets one of these 
conditions, as described further below.
Knowledge
    The first circumstance where willfulness will be found is where it 
is readily ascertainable from the Labor Law decision that the 
contractor knew that its conduct was prohibited by law, yet engaged in 
the conduct anyway. Knowledge can be inferred from the factual findings 
or legal conclusions contained in the Labor Law decision. Thus, 
willfulness will typically be found where it is readily ascertainable 
from the Labor Law decision that a contractor was previously advised by 
responsible government officials that its conduct was not lawful, but 
engaged in the conduct anyway. Repeated violations may also be willful 
to the extent that the prior proceeding demonstrates that the 
contractor was put on notice of its legal obligations, only to later 
commit the same or a substantially similar violation. If it is readily 
ascertainable from the Labor Law decision that a contractor has a 
written policy or manual that describes a legal requirement, and then 
knowingly violates that requirement, the violation is also likely to be 
willful.
    For example, if it is readily ascertainable from the Labor Law 
decision that a contractor was warned by an official from the 
Department that the housing it was providing to migrant agricultural 
workers did not comply with required safety and health standards, and 
that the contractor then failed to make the required repairs or 
corrections, such findings demonstrate that the contractor engaged in a 
willful violation of MSPA. Likewise, if the Labor Law decision 
indicates that a contractor's employee handbook states that it provides 
unpaid leave to employees with serious health conditions as required by 
the FMLA, but the contractor refuses to grant FMLA leave or erects 
unnecessary hurdles to employees requesting such leave, that violation 
would also likely be willful. Certain acts, by their nature, are 
willful, such as conduct that demonstrates an attempt to evade 
statutory responsibilities, including the falsification of records, 
fraud or intentional misrepresentation in the application for a 
required certificate, payment of wages "off the books," or 
"kickbacks" of wages from workers back to the contractor.
Reckless Disregard or Plain Indifference
    The second type of willful violation is where it is readily 
ascertainable from the Labor Law decision that a contractor acted with 
reckless disregard or plain indifference toward the Labor Laws' 
requirements. These terms refer to circumstances where a contractor 
failed to make sufficient efforts to learn or understand whether it was 
complying with the law. Although merely inadvertent or negligent 
conduct would not meet this standard, ignorance of the law is not a 
defense to a willful violation. The adequacy of a contractor's inquiry 
is evaluated in light of all of the facts and circumstances, including 
the complexity of the legal issue and the sophistication of the 
contractor. In other words, the more obvious the violation, and the 
longer the contractor has been in business, the more likely it will be 
that a violation will be found willful. Reckless disregard or plain 
indifference may also be shown where a contractor was aware of plainly 
obvious violations and failed to take an appropriate action. For 
example, an employer who employs a 13-year-old child in an obviously 
dangerous occupation, such as operating a forklift, is acting in 
reckless disregard for the law even if it cannot be shown that the 
employer actually knew that doing so was in violation of one of the 
Secretary's Hazardous Occupation Orders related to child labor. 
Reckless disregard or plain indifference will also be found if a 
contractor acted with purposeful lack of attention to its legal 
requirements, such as if management-level officials are made aware of a 
health or safety requirement but make little or no effort to 
communicate that requirement to lower-level supervisors and employees.

f. Table of Examples
    For a table containing selected examples of willful violations, see 
Appendix C.
4. Pervasive Violations
    The Order provides that, where no statutory standards exist, the 
standard for pervasive violations should take into account "the number 
of violations of a requirement or the aggregate number of violations of 
requirements in relation to the size of the entity." Order, section 
4(b)(i)(B)(4). No statutory standards for "pervasive" exist under the 
Labor Laws.
    Violations are "pervasive" if they reflect a basic disregard by 
the contractor for the Labor Laws as demonstrated by a pattern of 
serious and/or willful violations, continuing violations, or numerous 
violations. Violations must be multiple to be pervasive, although 
having multiple violations does not necessarily mean the violations are 
pervasive. The number of violations necessarily depends on the size of 
the contractor, because larger employers, by virtue of their size, are 
more likely to have multiple violations. To be pervasive, the 
violations need not be of the same or similar requirements of the Labor 
Laws. Pervasive violations may exist where the contractor commits 
multiple violations of the same Labor Law, regardless of their 
similarity, or violations of more than one of the Labor Laws. This 
classification is intended to identify those contractors whose numerous 
violations of Labor Laws indicate that they may view sanctions for 
their violations as merely part of the "cost of doing business," an 
attitude that is inconsistent with the level of responsibility required 
by the FAR.
    Pervasive violations differ from repeated violations in a number of 
ways. First, unlike repeated violations, pervasive violations need not 
be substantially similar, or even similar at all, as long as each 
violation involves one of the Labor Laws. Additionally, pervasive 
violations, unlike repeated violations, may arise in the same 
proceeding or investigation. For example, a small tools manufacturer 
with about 50 employees in a single location that does not have a 
process for identifying and eliminating serious safety-and-health 
hazards may be cited multiple times for serious violations under the 
OSH Act--once for improper storage of hazardous materials, once for 
failure to provide employees with protective equipment, once for 
inadequate safeguards on heavy machinery, once for lack of fall 
protection, once for insufficient ventilation, once for unsafe noise 
exposure, and once for inadequate emergency exits. While these 
violations are sufficiently different that they would not be designated 
as repeated violations by OSHA and would therefore not be repeated 
violations under the Order, such a high number of serious workplace 
safety violations relative to the size of a small company with only a 
single location would likely demonstrate a basic disregard by the 
company for workers' safety and health, particularly if the company 
lacked a process for identifying and eliminating serious safety-and-
health hazards. As such, these violations would likely be considered 
pervasive.
    In addition, violations across multiple Labor Laws--especially when 
they are serious, repeated, or willful--are an indication of pervasive 
violations that warrant careful examination by the ALCA. For example, a 
medium-sized company with about 1,000 employees that provides 
janitorial services at Federal facilities may be found to have violated 
the SCA for failure to pay workers their required wages, Title VII for 
discrimination in hiring on the basis of national origin, the NLRA for 
demoting workers who are seeking to organize a union, and the FMLA for 
denying workers unpaid leave for serious health conditions. While these 
violations are substantively different from each other, a medium-sized 
company that violates so many Labor Laws is demonstrating a basic 
disregard for its legal obligations to its workers and is likely 
committing pervasive violations.
    Whereas a repeated violation may be found anytime a contractor 
commits two or more substantially similar violations, there is no 
specific numeric threshold for pervasive violations. The number of 
violations that will result in a classification of pervasive will 
depend on the size of the contractor, as well as the nature and 
severity of the violations themselves.
    A series of repeated violations may, however, become pervasive, 
particularly if it demonstrates that a contractor, despite knowledge of 
its violations, fails to make efforts to change its practices and 
continues to violate the law. For example, if WHD issued several 
administrative merits determinations over the course of 3 years finding 
that a contractor illegally employed underage workers, and despite 
receiving these notices, the contractor failed to make efforts to 
change its child labor practices and continued to violate the FLSA's 
child labor provisions, the series of violations would likely be 
considered pervasive.
    For smaller companies, a smaller number of violations may be 
sufficient for a finding of pervasiveness, while for large companies, 
pervasive violations will typically require either a greater number of 
violations or violations affecting a significant number or percentage 
of a company's workforce. For example, if OFCCP finds that a large 
contractor with 50,000 employees that provides food services at Federal 
agencies nationwide used pre-employment screening tests for most jobs 
at the company's facilities that resulted in Hispanic workers being 
hired at a significantly lower rate than non-Hispanic workers over a 5-
year period, and in addition, WHD finds that the company failed to 
comply with the SCA's requirements to pay its workers prevailing wages 
at many of its locations, such violations would likely be pervasive, 
notwithstanding the large size of the contractor, because the 
contractor's numerous serious violations spanned most of its locations 
and affected many of its workers. In contrast, had the company only 
engaged in these prohibited practices with respect to some of its 
hiring at only one a few of its locations, such violations might not 
necessarily be considered pervasive.
    Similarly, if a large company with 5,000 employees that provides 
uniform services to Federal agencies in several States is cited 10 
times for serious OSHA violations affecting most of its inspected 
locations over the span of a year, and a number of the citations 
involve the failure to abate extremely dangerous conditions--and as a 
result the company is placed on OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement 
Program--such violations would likely be pervasive because the sheer 
number of violations over such a short period of time is evidence that 
the company is ignoring persistent threats to workers' safety, fails to 
treat safety as a serious problem, and is acting in disregard of its 
legal obligations. In contrast, if the violations affected only a few 
of the company's facilities, or if the company had acted quickly to 
abate any violations, the violations might not necessarily be 
considered pervasive.
    An additional relevant factor in determining whether violations are 
pervasive is the involvement of higher-level management officials. When 
Labor Laws are violated with either the explicit or implicit approval 
of higher-level management, such approval signals that future 
violations will be tolerated or condoned, and may dissuade workers from 
reporting violations or raising complaints. Thus, to the extent that 
higher-level management officials were involved in violations themselves 
(such as discrimination in hiring by an executive, or a decision by an 
executive to cut back on required safety procedures that led to 
violations of the OSH Act) or knew of violations and failed to take 
appropriate actions (such as ignoring reports or complaints by workers), 
the violations are more likely to be deemed pervasive. By using the term 
"higher-level management," the Department agrees that a violation is 
unlikely to be pervasive for this reason where the manager involved is a 
low-level manager (such as a first-line supervisor) acting contrary to a 
strong company policy, and the company responds with appropriate remedial 
action.
    For example, if the vice president of a construction company 
directs a foreman not to hire Native American workers, and as a result 
the company is later found to have committed numerous Title VII 
violations against job applicants, such violations are likely to be 
pervasive. Likewise, if the chief safety officer at a chemical plant 
fields complaints from many workers about several unsafe working 
conditions but then fails to take action to remedy the unsafe 
conditions, such violations are also likely to be pervasive because the 
known dangerous working conditions were disregarded by a high-level 
company official despite being reported by many workers at the plant. 
Such behavior reflects a basic disregard for worker health and safety.
    For a table containing additional examples of pervasive violations, 
see Appendix D.

B. Weighing Labor Law Violations and Mitigating Factors

    As discussed above, an ALCA's assessment of a contractor's Labor 
Law violations involves a three-step process: (1) Classifying 
violations to determine whether any are serious, repeated, willful, 
and/or pervasive; (2) weighing any serious, repeated, willful, and/or 
pervasive violations in light of the totality of the circumstances, 
including any mitigating factors that the contractor has identified; 
and then (3) providing the contracting officer with written analysis 
and advice regarding the contractor's record of Labor Law compliance. 
In analyzing a contractor's record during the weighing process, an ALCA 
does not need to give equal weight to two violations that receive the 
same classification. Some violations may have more significant 
consequences on a contractor's workforce or more potential to disrupt 
contractor performance than others.
    In the weighing process, the ALCA considers many factors as a part 
of an analysis of whether the contractor has a satisfactory record of 
Labor Law compliance--in other words, whether the contractor's history 
of Labor Law compliance and any adoption by the contractor of 
preventative compliance measures indicate that the contracting officer 
could find the contractor to have a satisfactory record of integrity 
and business ethics. In considering the totality of the circumstances, 
the ALCA considers information about a contractor's violations obtained 
from enforcement agencies, as well as potentially mitigating 
information about those violations that a contractor has provided for 
review. In addition, although ALCAs review contractors' disclosed 
decisions, ALCAs will also consider Labor Law decisions that should 
have been disclosed by contractors under the Order, but were not. Such 
undisclosed decisions may be brought to the attention of an ALCA by the 
contracting officer, workers or their representatives, an enforcement 
agency, or any other source.
    The weighing process is not mechanistic, and this Guidance cannot 
account for all of the possible circumstances or facts related to a 
contractor's record of Labor Law compliance. However, there are certain 
factors that in many cases will help inform an ALCA's analysis and 
advice. These factors, when present, will weigh for or against a 
conclusion that a contractor has a satisfactory record of Labor Law 
compliance. See Appendix E.
1. Mitigating Factors That Weigh in Favor of a Satisfactory Record of 
Labor Law Compliance
    Mitigating factors weigh in favor of a conclusion that a contractor 
has a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance. The list of factors 
below includes ones that an ALCA may be able to identify with 
information obtained from enforcement agencies. It also includes 
factors that an ALCA will not be able to identify unless the contractor 
provides the relevant information when given the opportunity to do so 
by the contracting officer. To ensure that all mitigating factors are 
considered by the ALCA, the contractor should avail itself of the 
opportunity to provide all the information it believes demonstrates a 
satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance.
    Generally, the most important mitigating factor will be the extent 
to which the contractor has remediated the violation(s) and taken steps 
that will prevent recurrence in the future. Other mitigating factors 
include where the contractor has only a single disclosed violation; 
where the number of violations is low relative to the size of the 
contractor; where the contractor has implemented a safety-and-health 
management program, a collectively-bargained grievance procedure, or 
other compliance program; where a violation resulted from a recent 
legal or regulatory change; where the findings in the relevant Labor 
Law decision support the contractor's defense that it acted in good 
faith or had reasonable grounds for believing that it was not violating 
the law; and where the contractor has maintained a long period of 
compliance following any violations.
    None of these mitigating factors are necessarily determinative. Nor 
is this an exhaustive list. In some cases, depending on the 
circumstances, several mitigating factors may need to be present in 
order for an ALCA to conclude that a contractor has a satisfactory 
record of Labor Law compliance. In other cases, the presence of only 
one of these factors may be sufficient to support such a conclusion.
a. Remedial Measures
    As noted above, the extent to which a contractor has remediated a 
Labor Law violation will typically be the most important factor that 
can mitigate the effect of a violation. Remedial measures can include 
measures taken to correct an unlawful practice, make affected employees 
whole, or otherwise comply with a contractor's obligations under the 
Labor Laws. Remedial measures also may include the implementation of 
new procedures and practices, or other actions, in order to promote 
future compliance. Contractors may take remedial measures voluntarily, 
through a settlement agreement with an enforcement agency or private 
parties, or pursuant to a court order. Remedial measures may also be 
taken as a result of labor compliance agreements, which are discussed 
in section III(C) below.
    Where a contractor institutes remedial measures, this may indicate 
that a contractor has recognized the need to address a violation and 
has taken steps to bring itself into compliance with the law. The 
timeliness with which a contractor agrees to, initiates, or completes 
the implementation of remedial measures may be relevant to the weight 
that an ALCA gives to this factor. Similarly, failure to remediate a 
violation may demonstrate disregard for legal obligations, which in 
turn may raise concerns about a contractor's commitment or ability to 
comply with the law during future contract performance.

b. Only One Violation
    While a contracting officer is not precluded from making a 
determination of nonresponsibility based on a single violation in the 
circumstances where merited, the Order provides that, in most cases, a 
single violation of a Labor Law may not necessarily give rise to a 
determination of lack of responsibility, depending on the nature of the 
violation. Order, section 4(a)(i). Thus, when considering mitigating 
factors, an ALCA may generally consider the existence of only a single 
violation during the 3-year disclosure period as weighing in favor of a 
conclusion that the contractor has a satisfactory record of Labor Law 
compliance.
c. Low Number of Violations Relative to Size
    Larger contractors, by virtue of their size, are more likely to 
have multiple violations than smaller ones. When assessing contractors 
with multiple violations, the size of the contractor is considered.
d. Safety-and-Health Programs, Grievance Procedures, or Other 
Compliance Programs
    Contractors can help to assure future compliance by implementing a 
safety-and-health management program such as OSHA's 1989 Safety and 
Health Program Management guidelines or any updates to those 
guidelines,\117\ grievance procedures (including collectively-bargained 
ones), monitoring arrangements negotiated as part of either a 
settlement agreement or labor compliance agreement, or other similar 
compliance programs. Such programs and procedures can foster a 
corporate culture in which workers are encouraged to raise legitimate 
concerns about Labor Law violations without the fear of repercussions; 
as a result, they may also prompt workers to report violations that 
would, under other circumstances, go unreported. Therefore, 
implementation or prior existence of such a program is a mitigating 
factor.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \117\ In addition, there are two voluntary industry consensus 
standards that, if implemented, should be considered as mitigating 
factors for violations involving workplace safety and health: The 
ANSI/AIHA Z10--2005 Occupational Safety and Health Management 
Systems (ANSI/AIHA, 2005), and the OHSAS 18001--2007 Occupational 
Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSAS Project Group, 2007).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

e. Recent Legal or Regulatory Change
    To the extent that the Labor Law violations can be traced to a 
recent legal or regulatory change, this may be a mitigating factor. 
This may be a case where a new agency or court interpretation of an 
existing statute is applied retroactively and a contractor's pre-change 
conduct is found to be a violation. For example, where prior agency or 
court decisions suggested that a practice was lawful, but the Labor Law 
decision finds otherwise, this may be a mitigating factor.
f. Good Faith and Reasonable Grounds
    It may be a mitigating factor where the findings in the relevant 
Labor Law decision support the contractor's defense that it had 
reasonable grounds for believing that it was not violating the law. For 
example, if a contractor acts in reliance on advice from a responsible 
official from the relevant enforcement agency, or an authoritative 
administrative or judicial ruling on a similar case, such reliance will 
typically demonstrate good faith and reasonable grounds. This 
mitigating factor also applies where a violation otherwise resulted 
from the conduct of a government official. For example, a DBA violation 
may be mitigated where the contracting agency failed to include the 
relevant contract clause and wage determination in a contract.
g. Significant Period of Compliance Following Violations
    If, following one or more violations within the 3-year disclosure 
period, the contractor maintains a steady period of compliance with the 
Labor Laws, such compliance may mitigate the existence of prior 
violations (e.g., violations were reported from 2\1/2\ years ago and 
there have been none since). This is a stronger mitigating factor where 
the contractor has a recent Labor Law decision that it must disclose, 
but the underlying conduct took place significantly before the 3-year 
disclosure period and the contractor has had no subsequent violations.
2. Factors That Weigh Against a Satisfactory Record of Labor Law 
Compliance
    There are also factors that weigh against a conclusion that a 
contractor has a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance. The list 
of factors below is not exhaustive. Nor are any of these factors 
necessarily determinative. An ALCA reviews these factors as part of an 
evaluation of the totality of the circumstances. In some cases, several 
factors may need to be present in order for an ALCA to conclude that a 
contractor has an unsatisfactory record of Labor Law compliance. 
Depending on the facts of the case, even where multiple factors are 
present, they may be outweighed by mitigating circumstances.
a. Pervasive Violations
    As described in section III(A)(4) above, pervasive violations are 
violations that demonstrate a basic disregard for the Labor Laws. Such 
disregard of legal obligations creates a heightened danger that the 
contractor may, in turn, disregard its contractual obligations as well. 
Additionally, such contractors are more likely to violate the Labor 
Laws in the future, and those violations--and any enforcement 
proceedings or litigation that may ensue--may imperil their ability to 
meet their obligations under a contract. Accordingly, where an ALCA has 
classified violations as pervasive (in the classification step 
described above in section III(A)), this weighs strongly against a 
satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance.
b. Violations That Meet Two or More of the Categories Discussed Above 
(Serious, Repeated, and Willful)
    A violation that falls into two or more of the categories is also, 
as a general matter, more likely to be probative of the contractor's 
disregard for legal obligations and unsatisfactory working conditions 
than a violation that falls into only one of those categories. 
Accordingly, where an ALCA has classified a violation as both repeated 
and willful, for example, the violation will tend to weigh more 
strongly against a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance than a 
similar violation that is repeated or willful, but not both.
c. Violations of Particular Gravity
    In analyzing a contractor's record, an ALCA does not need to give 
equal weight to two violations that have received the same 
classification. Labor Law violations of particular gravity include, but 
are not limited to, violations related to the death of an employee; 
violations involving a termination of employment for exercising a right 
protected under the Labor Laws; violations that detrimentally impact 
the working conditions of all or nearly all of the workforce at a 
worksite; and violations where the amount of back wages, penalties, and 
other damages awarded is greater than $100,000.
d. Violations for Which Injunctive Relief Is Granted
    Both preliminary and permanent injunctions are rarely granted by 
courts and require a showing of compelling circumstances, including 
irreparable harm to workers and a threat to the public interest. 
Accordingly, where a court grants injunctive relief to remedy a violation 
that is already classified as serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive, 
the ALCA should take this into account as a factor that increases the 
significance of that violation to the contractor's overall record 
of Labor Law compliance.
e. Violations That Are Reflected in Final Orders
    To the extent that the judgment, determination, or order finding a 
Labor Law violation is final (because appeals and opportunities for 
further review have been exhausted or were not pursued), the violation 
should be given greater weight than a similar violation that is not yet 
final. While a violation that is not final should be given lesser 
weight, it will still be considered as relevant to a contractor's 
record of Labor Law compliance.

C. Advice Regarding a Contractor's Record of Labor Law Compliance

    As discussed above, an ALCA's assessment of a contractor's Labor 
Law violations involves a three-step process: (1) Classifying 
violations to determine whether any are serious, repeated, willful, 
and/or pervasive; (2) weighing any serious, repeated, willful, and/or 
pervasive violations in light of the totality of the circumstances, 
including any mitigating factors that the contractor has identified; 
and then (3) providing the contracting officer with written analysis 
and advice regarding the contractor's record of Labor Law compliance.
    The ALCA determines what advice and analysis to give to the 
contracting officer through the classification and weighing steps. In 
providing advice, the ALCA carefully considers the contractor's record 
of Labor Law compliance and makes a recommendation regarding whether it 
could support a finding, by the contracting officer, that the 
contractor has a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics. 
See FAR 22.2004-2(b)(3)-(4). As a part of this analysis, the ALCA 
considers whether a labor compliance agreement is warranted to ensure 
the contractor's compliance with the Labor Laws during future contract 
performance--and, if so, the timing of the negotiations. Id.
    Labor compliance agreements are negotiated by the contractor and 
the relevant enforcement agency/agencies. These agreements may include 
enhanced remedial measures intended to prevent future violations and 
increase compliance with Labor Laws. Examples of enhanced remedial 
measures include, but are not limited to, specific changes in the 
contractor's business policies and operations, adoption of a safety-
and-health management system, assessment by outside consultants, 
internal compliance audits or external compliance monitoring, and 
enterprise-wide applicability of remedial measures. A contractor may 
enter into a labor compliance agreement while at the same time 
continuing to contest an underlying Labor Law violation.
    A labor compliance agreement is warranted where the contractor has 
serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive Labor Law violations that 
are not outweighed by mitigating factors and the ALCA identifies 
conduct or policies that could be addressed through preventative 
actions. Where this is the case, the contractor's history of Labor Law 
violations demonstrates a risk to the contracting agency of violations 
during contract performance, but these risks may be mitigated through 
the implementation of appropriate enhanced compliance measures. A labor 
compliance agreement also may be warranted where the contractor 
presently has a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance, but there 
are also clear risk factors present, and a labor compliance agreement 
would reduce these risk factors and demonstrate steps to maintain Labor 
Law compliance during contract performance.
    When an ALCA recommends a labor compliance agreement, the ALCA has 
three options regarding the timing of negotiations: (1) The contractor 
must commit, after award, to negotiate an agreement; (2) the contractor 
must commit, before award, to negotiate an agreement; or (3) the 
contractor must enter into an agreement before award. FAR 22.2004-
2(b)(3)(ii)-(iv).
1. ALCA Recommendation
    The ALCA's advice to the contracting officer must include one of 
the following recommendations: The contractor's record of Labor Law 
compliance--
    (i) Supports a finding, by the contracting officer, of a 
satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics;
    (ii) Supports a finding, by the contracting officer, of a 
satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics, but the 
prospective contractor needs to commit, after award, to negotiating a 
labor compliance agreement or another acceptable remedial action;
    (iii) Could support a finding, by the contracting officer, of a 
satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics, only if the 
prospective contractor commits, prior to award, to negotiating a labor 
compliance agreement or another acceptable remedial action;
    (iv) Could support a finding, by the contracting officer, of a 
satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics, only if the 
prospective contractor enters, prior to award, into a labor compliance 
agreement; or
    (v) Does not support a finding, by the contracting officer, of a 
satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics, and the agency 
suspending and debarring official should be notified in accordance with 
agency procedures.
    FAR 22.2004-2(b)(3). Additional guidance regarding each 
recommendation is provided below.
a. Satisfactory Record
    A contractor has a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance 
where it has no Labor Law violations within the 3-year disclosure 
period or has no violations that meet the definitions of serious, 
repeated, willful, and/or pervasive. Under these circumstances an ALCA 
may recommend that the contractor's record supports a finding, by the 
contracting officer, of a satisfactory record of integrity and business 
ethics. This recommendation may also be appropriate where the 
contractor does have violations that meet the definitions of serious, 
repeated, willful, and/or pervasive, but under the totality of the 
circumstances the existence of the violations is outweighed by 
mitigating factors or other relevant information.
b. Commitment After Award
    An ALCA may recommend that a contractor needs to commit, after the 
award, to a labor compliance agreement where the contractor presently 
has a satisfactory record of Labor Law compliance, but there are also 
clear risk factors present, and a labor compliance agreement is 
warranted to reduce these risk factors and demonstrate steps to 
maintain Labor Law compliance during contract performance. This may be 
the case, for example, where the contractor has serious, repeated, and/
or willful violations that have not been fully remediated, and the ALCA 
has concerns that the problems related to these violations could affect 
future contract performance. This may also be the case where the ALCA 
is concerned that the contractor has not fully addressed managerial 
issues that could result in violations that would impact performance of 
the contract. Another example is where one or more of the contractor's 
violations are presently in litigation and may result in final orders 
against the contractor in the future. This recommendation is not 
appropriate where the contractor's violations are already pervasive.
c. Commitment Before Award
    An ALCA may recommend that a contractor needs to commit, prior to 
the award, to a labor compliance agreement where the contractor's labor 
violation history demonstrates an unsatisfactory record of integrity 
and business ethics unless further action is taken before the award. 
This recommendation may be appropriate, for example, where the 
contractor has previously failed to respond or provide adequate 
justification for not responding when notified of the need for a labor 
compliance agreement. It may also be appropriate where the contractor 
has not been previously advised of the need for a labor compliance 
agreement, but the labor violation history demonstrates an immediate 
need for a commitment to negotiate--for example, where the contractor 
has pervasive violations, or, in certain circumstances, multiple 
violations of particular gravity.
d. Enter Into Agreement Before Award
    An ALCA may also recommend that a contractor must negotiate and 
enter into a labor compliance agreement prior to the award. As with the 
recommendation described in section (c) above, this recommendation is 
appropriate where the contractor's labor violation history demonstrates 
an unsatisfactory record of integrity and business ethics unless 
further action is taken before the award. Depending on the conduct of 
the contractor and severity of violations, the same circumstances 
described in section (c) may justify an increased level of concern 
about future contract performance. In these circumstances, the ALCA may 
conclude that a commitment alone prior to the award is not sufficient 
and that the agreement must be fully negotiated and signed before the 
award can take place.
e. Notification to Agency Suspending and Debarring Official
    Although in many cases, a labor compliance agreement is warranted 
to address a contractor's unsatisfactory record of Labor Law 
compliance, there are circumstances in which negotiation of a labor 
compliance agreement may not be warranted. In these circumstances, an 
ALCA should recommend that the contractor's record does not support a 
finding of a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics and 
that the agency suspending and debarring official should be notified. 
This may be the case, for example, where an agreement cannot be 
reasonably expected to improve future compliance. This may also be the 
case where the contractor has shown a basic disregard for Labor Law, 
such as by previously failing to enter into a labor compliance 
agreement after being given a reasonable time to do so. Another example 
is where the contractor has breached an existing labor compliance 
agreement. One more example is where the contractor has previously 
entered into a labor compliance agreement and subsequently commits 
pervasive violations or multiple violations of particular gravity.
2. ALCA Analysis
    The ALCA's recommendation must be accompanied by a written 
analysis. See FAR 22.2004-2(b)(4). The written analysis must include 
the number of Labor Law violations; their classification as serious, 
repeated, willful and/or pervasive; any mitigating factors or remedial 
measures; and any additional information that the ALCA finds to be 
relevant. See id.
    If the ALCA concludes that a labor compliance agreement is 
warranted, then the written analysis must include a supporting 
rationale for the recommendation and the name of the enforcement agency 
or agencies that would execute the agreement. See FAR 22.2004-
2(b)(4)(v), (4)(viii). The rationale should include the ALCA's 
explanation for any recommendation regarding when the contractor must 
negotiate a labor compliance agreement, i.e., before or after award. 
See id. 22.2004-2(b)(4)(v). The ALCA's explanation also should include 
a rationale for any recommendation that the contractor must enter into 
a labor compliance agreement before award. See id.
    If the ALCA recommends that the contractor's record of Labor Law 
compliance does not support a finding of a satisfactory record of 
integrity and business ethics, the ALCA's analysis must include: The 
rationale for the finding, whether the ALCA supports notification to 
the suspending and debarring official, and whether the ALCA intends to 
make such notification. FAR 22.2004-2(b)(4)(vi)-(vii).
    In response to the ALCA's analysis and advice, the contracting 
officer takes appropriate action, as described in the FAR rule. See FAR 
22.2004-2(b)(5) (listing appropriate actions and procedures). If the 
ALCA's assessment indicates that a labor compliance agreement is 
warranted, the contracting officer provides written notification to the 
contractor prior to the award about the contractor's obligations. See 
id. 22.2004-2(b)(7). When the ALCA learns that the contractor has 
entered into a labor compliance agreement, the ALCA must make a 
notation in FAPIIS. Id. 22.2004-1(c)(6).

IV. Postaward Disclosure Updates and Assessment of Labor Law Violations

    After receiving a contract award, contractors must continue to 
disclose any new Labor Law decisions or updates to previously disclosed 
decisions. See Order, section 2(b); FAR 22.2004-3(a), 52.222-59. The 
contactor must make the disclosures in the SAM database at www.sam.gov. 
FAR 22.2004-3(a)(1). These disclosures must be made semiannually. Id.
    During performance of the contract, the ALCA has the duty to 
monitor Labor Law decision information. The ALCA has the duty to 
monitor SAM and FAPIIS to review any new or updated contractor 
disclosures. FAR 22.2004-3(b)(1). Where a contractor previously agreed 
to enter into a labor compliance agreement, the ALCA also has the duty 
to verify whether the contractor is making progress toward reaching an 
agreement, or has entered into and is meeting the terms of the 
agreement. See id. The ALCA also may consider Labor Law decision 
information received from sources other than the procurement databases. 
Id.
    If the ALCA has received information indicating that further 
consideration or action may be warranted, then the ALCA shall notify 
the contracting officer in accordance with agency procedures. FAR 
22.2004-3(b)(1). When this happens, the contracting officer must afford 
the contractor the opportunity to provide any additional information 
that the contractor may wish to provide for consideration--including 
remedial measures or other mitigating factors related to newly-
disclosed decisions, or an explanation for any delay in entering into a 
labor compliance agreement. Id. 22.2004-3(b)(2).

A. Semiannual Disclosure Updates

    If there are new Labor Law decisions or updates to previously 
disclosed Labor Law decisions, the contractor is required to disclose 
this information during performance of the contract. See FAR 22.2004-
3(a); 52.222-59(b) (contract clause). Section II(A) above describes the 
covered contracts for which the initial preaward disclosure is 
required. See also FAR 22.2004-1(a).
    Contractors must make these postaward disclosures semiannually in 
the SAM database. FAR 22.2004-3(a)(1). The contractor has flexibility 
in establishing the date for the semiannual update. The contractor may 
use the six-month anniversary date of contract award, or the contractor 
may choose a different date before that six-month anniversary date. 
Id. 22.2004-3(a)(2). In either case, the contractor must continue 
to update it semiannually. Id.
    The types of Labor Law decisions that must be disclosed during the 
postaward period are the same as during the preaward period: 
Administrative merits determinations, civil judgments, and arbitral 
awards or decisions. See FAR 52.222-59(a) (defining "labor law 
decision"). The definition of each of these Labor Law decisions is the 
same as applies preaward. See id. See section II(B) above for the 
detailed definitions.
    Postaward updates should include (a) any new Labor Law decisions 
rendered since the last disclosure and (b) updates to previously 
disclosed information. As noted above in section II(B)(4) of this 
Guidance, contractors must report new Labor Law decisions even if they 
arise from a previously-disclosed Labor Law violation. For example, if 
a contractor initially disclosed a Federal district court judgment 
finding that it violated the FLSA, it must disclose as part of the 
periodic updates any subsequent Federal court of appeals decision 
affirming that judgment. In a postaward disclosure, contractors may 
also submit updated information reflecting the fact that a previously 
disclosed Labor Law decision has been vacated, reversed, or otherwise 
modified.
    In any postaward update, contractors must disclose the same 
information about any individual Labor Law decision that must be 
disclosed preaward: (a) The Labor Law that was violated; (b) the case 
number, inspection number, charge number, docket number, or other 
unique identification number; (c) the date the Labor Law decision was 
rendered; and (d) the name of the court, arbitrator(s), agency, board, 
or commission that rendered the decision. See FAR 52.222-59(b)(1). And, 
as with preaward disclosures, the contractor is encouraged to submit 
such additional information as the contractor deems necessary, 
including mitigating circumstances and remedial measures. See id. 
52.222-59(b)(3).

B. ALCA Assessment and Advice

    Once the contractor has been given an opportunity to provide 
additional information, the ALCA follows the same classification, 
weighing, and advice processes that the ALCA follows in the preaward 
period, which are described in section III above. The ALCA provides 
written analysis and advice to the contracting officer regarding 
appropriate actions for the contracting officer's consideration. This 
postaward analysis and advice is similar to the preaward process 
discussed above in section III(C). The postaward analysis and advice 
should include:

    (i) Whether any violations should be considered serious, 
repeated, willful, or pervasive;
    (ii) The number and nature of violations (depending on the 
nature of the labor law violation, in most cases, a single labor law 
violation may not necessarily warrant action);
    (iii) Whether there are any mitigating factors;
    (iv) Whether the contractor has initiated and implemented, in a 
timely manner--
    i. Its own remedial measures; or
    ii. Other remedial measures entered into through agreement with, 
or as a result of, the actions or orders of an enforcement agency, 
court, or arbitrator;
    (v) Whether a labor compliance agreement or other remedial 
measure is --
    (A) Warranted and the enforcement agency or agencies that would 
execute such agreement with the contractor;
    (B) Under negotiation between the contractor and the enforcement 
agency;
    (C) Established, and whether it is being adhered to; or
    (D) Not being negotiated or has not been established, even 
though the contractor was notified that one had been recommended, 
and the contractor's rationale for not doing so.
    (vi) Whether the absence of a labor compliance agreement or 
other remedial measure, or noncompliance with a labor compliance 
agreement, demonstrates a pattern of conduct or practice that 
reflects disregard for the recommendation of an enforcement agency.
    (vii) Whether the labor law violation(s) merit consideration by 
the agency suspending and debarring official and whether the ALCA 
will make such a referral; and
    (viii) Any such additional information that the ALCA finds to be 
relevant.

    FAR 22.2004-3(b)(3). In determining whether a labor compliance 
agreement is warranted or whether the Labor Law decisions merit 
consideration by the agency suspending and debarring official, the ALCA 
should consider the guidance provided above in section III(C).
    In response to new information about Labor Law violations, the 
contracting officer may take no action and continue the contract, or 
may exercise a contract remedy as appropriate. See FAR 22.2004-3(b)(4) 
(listing appropriate actions and procedures).

V. Subcontractor Responsibility

    In addition to contracts between contractors and contracting 
agencies, the Order also applies to certain subcontracts with an 
estimated value that exceeds $500,000. FAR 52.222-59(c). The 
subcontracts to which the Order applies are described as "covered 
subcontracts" in this Guidance. As noted above, covered subcontracts 
include subcontracts for commercial items, but do not include 
subcontracts for commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) items. See 
id. 52.222-59(c)(1)(i) (excluding COTS contracts); 2.101 (defining COTS 
items).
    Prime contractors working on contracts covered by the Order are 
required to consider prospective subcontractors' records of Labor Law 
compliance when making responsibility determinations for prospective 
subcontractors. FAR 52.222-59(c). This requirement applies to 
subcontractors at all tiers. Id. 52.222-59(g).

A. Preaward Subcontractor Disclosures

    Prospective subcontractors for a covered subcontract must (like 
prime contractors on a covered procurement contract) make an initial 
representation to the contractor about compliance with Labor Laws, 
followed by a more detailed disclosure. See FAR 52.222-59(c)(3). See 
also section II(C)(1), above, describing contractor disclosures. The 
prospective subcontractor must make the detailed disclosure to the 
Department, id. 52.222-59(c)(3)(ii), by following the procedure at the 
"Subcontractor Disclosures" tab at www.dol.gov/fairpayandsafeworkplaces. The Department, in turn, provides advice to 
the subcontractor that the subcontractor then provides to the 
contractor to use in the responsibility determination.
1. Initial Representation
    In the initial representation to the contractor, prospective 
subcontractors must represent whether there have been any Labor Law 
decisions rendered against the subcontractor in the period beginning on 
October 25, 2015 to the date of the subcontractor's offer, or for three 
years preceding the date of the subcontractor's offer, whichever period 
is shorter. FAR 52.222-59(c)(3)(i).
2. Detailed Disclosure to the Department
    Prospective subcontractors must make a more detailed disclosure to 
the Department. FAR 52.222-59(c)(3)(ii). Subcontractors must disclose 
the same detailed information that prime contractors themselves must 
disclose on a covered procurement contract. See id.; see also Guidance, 
section II(C)(1) (describing contractor disclosures). Subcontractors 
must disclose all covered Labor Law decisions, and subcontractors also 
may provide additional information to the Department that the 
subcontractor believes will demonstrate its responsibility. Id. 52.222-59(c)(3)(iii). 
This may include information on mitigating circumstances and remedial 
measures, such as information about steps taken to correct the 
violations at issue, the negotiation or execution of a settlement 
agreement or labor compliance agreement, or other steps taken to 
achieve compliance with the Labor Laws.
3. Providing the Department's Advice to the Contractor
    When a prospective subcontractor submits Labor Law violation and 
other information to the Department, the Department provides the 
subcontractor with advice regarding its record of Labor Law compliance. 
FAR 52.222-59(c)(4)(ii)(C). The subcontractor then must provide the 
Department's advice to the contractor for the contractor's use in 
determining whether the subcontractor is a responsible source. Id.

B. Preaward Department of Labor Advice to the Subcontractor

    After receiving a subcontractor's detailed disclosures, the 
Department provides advice to the subcontractor about its record of 
Labor Law compliance. The advice may include (1) that the subcontractor 
has no serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive violations; (2) that 
the subcontractor has serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive 
violations but that a labor compliance agreement is not warranted 
because, for example, the contractor has initiated and implemented its 
own remedial measures; (3) that the subcontractor has serious, 
repeated, willful, or pervasive violations and a labor compliance 
agreement is warranted; (4) that a labor compliance agreement is 
warranted and the subcontractor has not entered into such an agreement 
in a reasonable period of time; (5) that the subcontractor is not 
complying with a labor compliance agreement into which it previously 
entered; or (6) that the subcontractor is complying with a labor 
compliance agreement into which it previously entered. See FAR 52.222-
59(c)(4)(ii)(C).
    In assessing subcontractor Labor Law compliance, the Department 
applies the same guidance on classification and weighing of Labor Law 
violations included above in sections III(A) and III(B) of this 
Guidance. In carrying out the assessment, Department officials and 
ALCAs may receive information from an enforcement agency about the 
subcontractor's compliance record. This information will be evaluated 
objectively and without regard for the enforcement agency's litigation 
interests.

C. Preaward Determination of Subcontractor Responsibility

    The prime contractor (not the Department) has the duty to make a 
determination that its subcontractors are responsible sources. See FAR 
9.104-4(a). When assessing a prospective subcontractor's 
responsibility, the contractor may find that the prospective 
subcontractor has a satisfactory record of integrity and business 
ethics with regard to compliance with Labor Laws under certain 
specified conditions. These conditions are:
1. The Subcontractor Has No Covered Labor Law Decisions To Disclose
    The contractor may find the subcontractor to have a satisfactory 
record where the subcontractor has represented that it has no covered 
Labor Law decisions to disclose. See FAR 52.222-59(c)(4)(i).
2. The Department Advises That the Subcontractor Has No Serious, 
Repeated, Willful, or Pervasive Violations
    The contractor may find the subcontractor to have a satisfactory 
record where the subcontractor has received advice from the Department 
that none of the subcontractor's violations are serious, repeated, 
willful, or pervasive; and the subcontractor has provided notice of 
this advice to the contractor. See FAR 52.222-59(c)(4)(ii)(C)(1).
3. The Department Advises That the Subcontractor Has Taken Sufficient 
Action To Remediate Violations
    The contractor may find the subcontractor to have a satisfactory 
record where the subcontractor has received advice from the Department 
that it has violations that are serious, repeated, willful, or 
pervasive; but the Department also advises that the subcontractor has 
taken sufficient action to remediate its violations, such as through 
its own remedial measures, by entering into a labor compliance 
agreement, or by agreeing to enter into such an agreement; and the 
subcontractor has provided notice of this advice to the contractor. See 
FAR 52.222-59(c)(4)(ii)(C)(2).
4. The Department Has Failed To Provide Timely Advice
    If the Department does not provide advice to the subcontractor 
within 3 business days of the subcontractor's detailed disclosure of 
Labor Law decision information, and the Department did not previously 
advise the subcontractor that it needed to enter into a labor 
compliance agreement, then the contractor may proceed with making a 
responsibility determination using available information and business 
judgment. See FAR 52.222-59(c)(6).
5. The Subcontractor Contests Negative Advice From the Department
    Where the subcontractor contests negative advice from the 
Department, the contractor may still find the subcontractor has a 
satisfactory record under certain conditions. If the subcontractor 
disagrees with negative advice from the Department, then the 
subcontractor must provide the contractor with (i) information about 
all the Labor Law violations that have been determined by the 
Department to be serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive; (ii) 
such additional information that the subcontractor deems necessary to 
demonstrate its responsibility, including mitigating factors, remedial 
measures such as subcontractor actions taken to address the Labor Law 
violations, labor compliance agreements, and other steps taken to 
achieve compliance with labor laws; (iii) a description of the 
Department's advice or proposed labor compliance agreement; and (iv) an 
explanation of the basis for the subcontractor's disagreement with the 
Department. See FAR 52.222-59(c)(4)(ii)(C)(3). If the contractor 
determines that the subcontractor is responsible on the basis of this 
representation, or if the contractor determines that due to a 
compelling reason the contractor must proceed with the subcontract 
award, then the contractor must notify the contracting officer of the 
decision and provide the name of the subcontractor and the basis for 
the decision (e.g., urgent and compelling circumstances). See id. 
52.222-59(c)(5).

D. Semiannual Subcontractor Updates

    Subcontractors must update their Labor Law decision disclosures 
after a subcontract award in the same manner that prime contractors 
must do for a prime contract award. See FAR 22.2004-1(b); 22.2004-4. 
Subcontractors must determine, semiannually, whether the Labor Law 
disclosures that the subcontractor previously provided to the 
Department are current and complete. Id. 52.222-59(d)(1). If the 
information is current and complete, no action is required. Id. If the 
information is not current and complete, subcontractors must provide 
revised information to the Department and then
make a new representation to the contractor. Id. 52.222-59(d)(1).
    If a subcontractor discloses new information about Labor Law 
decisions to the Department, the subcontractor must provide to the 
contractor any new advice from the Department. See FAR 52.222-59(d)(1). 
In addition, the subcontractor must disclose to the contractor if, 
during the course of performance of the contract, the Department 
notifies the subcontractor that it has not entered into a labor 
compliance agreement in a reasonable period or is not meeting the terms 
of a labor compliance agreement. Id. 52.222-59(d)(2).
    When a subcontractor discloses new Department advice or new 
information about Labor Law decisions, the contractor must determine 
whether action is necessary. See FAR 52.222-59(d)(3). If the contractor 
decides to continue the subcontract notwithstanding negative Department 
advice, the contractor must notify the contracting officer of the 
decision and provide the name of the subcontractor and the basis for 
the decision (e.g., urgent and compelling circumstances). Id. 52.222-
59(d)(4).

VI. Preassessment

    Prior to bidding on a contract, prospective contractors and 
subcontractors are encouraged to voluntarily contact the Department to 
request an assessment of their record of Labor Law compliance. The 
Department will assess whether any of the prospective contractor's 
violations are serious, repeated, willful, and/or pervasive; and 
whether a labor compliance agreement may be warranted. If a contractor 
that has been assessed by the Department subsequently submits a bid, 
and the contracting officer initiates a responsibility determination 
for the contractor, the contracting officer and the ALCA may rely on 
the Department's assessment that the contractor has a satisfactory 
record of Labor Law compliance unless additional Labor Law decisions 
have been disclosed.
    Contact information and additional guidance regarding the 
preassessment program can be found at http://www.dol.gov/fairpayandsafeworkplaces.

VII. Paycheck Transparency

    Transparency in the relationships between employers and their 
workers is critical to workers' understanding of their legal rights and 
to the resolution of workplace disputes. When workers lack information 
about how their pay is calculated and their status as employees or 
independent contractors, workers are less aware of their rights and 
employers are less likely to comply with labor laws. Providing workers 
with information about how their pay is calculated each pay period will 
enable workers to raise any concerns about pay more quickly, and will 
encourage proactive efforts by employers to resolve such concerns. 
Similarly, providing workers who are classified as independent 
contractors with notice of their status will enable them to better 
understand their legal rights, evaluate their status as independent 
contractors, and raise any concerns during the course of the working 
relationship as opposed to after it ends (which will increase the 
likelihood that the employer and the worker will be able to resolve any 
concerns more quickly and effectively).
    The Order seeks to improve paycheck transparency for covered 
workers on Federal contracts by instructing contracting officers to 
insert the contract clause at FAR 52.222-60. See Order, section 5; FAR 
22.2007(d). This clause requires contractors to provide wage statements 
and notice of any independent contractor relationship to their covered 
workers, and this clause's requirements flow down and apply to covered 
workers of subcontractors regardless of tier. See Order, section 5; FAR 
52.222-60.

A. Wage Statement

    The Order requires contracting agencies to ensure that, for covered 
procurement contracts, provisions in solicitations and clauses in 
contracts require contractors to provide most workers under the 
contract with a "document" each pay period with "information 
concerning that individual's hours worked, overtime hours, pay, and any 
additions made to or deductions made from pay." Order, section 5(a). 
Contracting agencies also must ensure that contractors "incorporate 
this same requirement" into covered subcontracts at all tiers. Id.
    The Order requires that the wage statement be provided to "all 
individuals performing work" for whom the contractor or subcontractor 
is required to maintain wage records under the FLSA, the DBA, or the 
SCA. Order, section 5(a).\118\ This means that a wage statement must be 
provided to every worker subject to any of those laws regardless of the 
classification of the worker as an employee or independent contractor.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \118\ The Order also requires the provision of a wage-statement 
document to all workers for whom records must be retained under any 
State laws "equivalent" to the FLSA, DBA, or SCA. See Order, 
section 5(a). As noted above in section II(B), this Guidance does 
not include a list of State laws equivalent to the FLSA, the DBA, 
and the SCA. The list of equivalent State laws will be included in 
future guidance issued by the Department.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Order states that the wage statement provided to workers each 
pay period must be a "document." Order, section 5(a). If the 
contractor or subcontractor regularly provides documents to its workers 
by electronic means, the wage statement may be provided electronically 
if the worker can access it through a computer, device, system, or 
network provided or made available by the contractor. FAR 52.222-60.
    The Order further provides that the wage statement must be issued 
every pay period and contain the total number of hours worked in the 
pay period and the number of those hours that were overtime hours. 
Order, section 5(a). The FAR requires that if the wage statement is not 
provided weekly and is instead provided bi-weekly or semi-monthly 
(because the pay period is bi-weekly or semi-monthly), then the hours 
worked and overtime hours contained in the wage statement must be 
broken down to correspond to the period (which will almost always be 
weekly) for which overtime is calculated and paid. See FAR 52.222-60. 
If the hours worked and overtime hours are aggregated in the wage 
statement for the entire pay period as opposed to being broken down by 
week, the worker may not be able to understand and evaluate how the 
overtime hours were calculated. For example, if the pay period is bi-
weekly and the worker is entitled to overtime pay for hours worked over 
40 in a week, then the wage statement must provide the hours worked and 
any overtime hours for the first week and the hours worked and any 
overtime hours for the second week.
    The FAR requires that the wage statement contain the worker's rate 
of pay, which provides workers with vital information about how their 
gross pay is calculated. See FAR 52.222-60. The rate of pay will most 
often be the worker's regular hourly rate of pay. If the worker is not 
paid by the hour, the rate of pay information should reflect the basis 
of pay by indicating the monetary amount paid on a per day, per week, 
per piece, or other basis. The FAR also requires that the wage 
statement contain the gross pay and itemize or identify each addition 
to or deduction from gross pay. Id. Additions to pay may include 
bonuses, awards, and shift differentials. Deductions from pay include 
deductions required by law (such as withholding for taxes), voluntary 
deductions by the worker (such as contributions to health insurance
premiums or retirement accounts), and all other deductions or 
reductions made from gross pay regardless of the reason. Itemizing the 
additions to and deductions from gross pay means that each addition and 
deduction must be separately listed and the specific amount added or 
deducted must be identified (lump sums are insufficient). Providing a 
worker with the gross pay and itemized additions to and deductions from 
gross pay allows the worker to understand the net pay received and how 
it was calculated.
    In sum, the FAR requires that wage statements contain the following 
information: (1) Hours worked, (2) overtime hours, (3) rate of pay, (4) 
gross pay, and (5) an itemization of each addition to and deduction 
from gross pay. FAR 52.222-60.\119\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \119\ Nothing prohibits the inclusion of more information in the 
wage statement (e.g., exempt status notification, overtime pay 
rate). Neither the Order nor the FAR preempts State laws or local 
ordinances that require more information to be included in the wage 
statement.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As specified in the FAR, if a significant portion of the 
contractor's or subcontractor's workforce is not fluent in English, the 
wage statement must also be in the language(s) other than English in 
which the significant portion(s) of the workforce is fluent. FAR 
52.222-60.
    The wage statement provided to workers who are exempt from overtime 
pay under the FLSA "need not include a record of hours worked if the 
contractor informs the individuals of their exempt status." Order, 
section 5(a).\120\ To sufficiently inform a worker of exempt status so 
that the wage statement need not include hours worked, the contractor 
or subcontractor must provide written notice to the worker stating that 
the worker is exempt from the FLSA's overtime compensation 
requirements; oral notice is not sufficient. See FAR 52.222-60. The 
notice can be a stand-alone document or can be included in the offer 
letter, employment contract, or position description, or wage 
statement--as long as the document is provided to the worker. See 
id.\121\ The notice must be provided either before the worker starts 
work on the contract or in the worker's first wage statement under the 
contract. See id. If during contract performance, the contractor or 
subcontractor determines that the worker's status has changed from non-
exempt to exempt, it must provide notice to the worker prior to 
providing a wage statement without hours worked information or in the 
first wage statement after the change. See id. If the contractor or 
subcontractor regularly provides documents to its workers by electronic 
means, the document may be provided electronically if the worker can 
access it through a computer, device, system, or network provided or 
made available by the contractor or subcontractor. Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \120\ Generally, non-exempt workers are entitled to overtime 
under the FLSA when they work over 40 hours in a week. See 29 U.S.C. 
207(a). However, certain workers (such as nurses, firefighters, and 
police officers) may instead be entitled to overtime under terms 
other than the 40-hour workweek. See, e.g., 29 U.S.C. 207(j), (k). 
Such workers are not exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirements; 
wage statements provided to them must contain a record of hours 
worked.
    \121\ As specified in the FAR, if a significant portion of the 
contractor's workforce is not fluent in English, the document 
notifying the worker of exempt status must also be in the 
language(s) other than English in which the significant portion(s) 
of the workforce is fluent. See FAR 52.222-60(e)(1).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Department and courts determine whether a worker is exempt from 
the FLSA's overtime requirement. The fact that a contractor or 
subcontractor has provided a worker with notice that he or she is 
exempt does not mean that the worker is correctly classified. The 
Department will not consider the notice when determining whether a 
worker is exempt. A contractor or subcontractor may not in its exempt-
status notice to a worker indicate or suggest that the Department or 
the courts agree with the determination that the worker is exempt. FAR 
52.222-60.
    The wage-statement requirements "shall be deemed to be fulfilled" 
where a contractor "is complying with State or local requirements that 
the Secretary of Labor has determined are substantially similar to 
those required" by the Order. Order, section 5(a). The Secretary has 
determined that the following States and localities have 
"substantially similar" wage-statement requirements as the Order: 
Alaska, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New 
York, and Oregon. The wage-statement requirements of these States and 
the District of Columbia are substantially similar because they require 
employers to provide wage statements that include at least the worker's 
overtime hours or overtime earnings, total hours, gross pay, and any 
additions or deductions from gross pay. Providing a worker in one of 
the Substantially Similar Wage Payment States with a wage statement 
that complies with the requirements of that State or locality satisfies 
the Order's wage-statement requirement. See FAR 52.222-60. In addition, 
a contractor satisfies the Order's wage-statement requirement by 
adopting the wage-statement requirements of any particular 
Substantially Similar Wage Payment State in which the contractor has 
workers and providing a wage statement that complies with the 
requirements of that State or locality to all of its workers.
    The Department maintains on its Web site (http://www.dol.gov/fairpayandsafeworkplaces) a list of the Substantially Similar Wage 
Payment States. The Secretary recognizes that States and localities may 
change their wage-statement laws so that their requirements may or may 
not be substantially similar to the Order's wage-statement requirement. 
When the Secretary determines that a State or locality must be added to 
or removed from the list of Substantially Similar Wage Payment States, 
notice of such changes will be published on the Web site. The 
Department may also issue All Agency Memoranda or similar direction to 
contracting agencies and the public to communicate updates to the list 
of the Substantially Similar Wage Payment States.

B. Independent Contractor Notice

    The Order requires contractors who treat individuals performing 
work for them (on covered procurement contracts) as independent 
contractors to provide each such worker with a document informing him 
or her of this independent contractor status. See Order, section 5(b). 
Contracting agencies must require that contractors incorporate this 
same requirement into covered subcontracts. See FAR 52.222-60.
    The FAR requires contractors and subcontractors to provide the 
notice informing the worker of status as an independent contractor to 
each individual worker treated as an independent contractor. See FAR 
52.222-60. The notice must be a "document"; oral notice of 
independent contractor status is not sufficient.\122\ Id. The document 
must be separate from any independent contractor agreement entered into 
with the individual. Id. If the contractor regularly provides documents 
to its workers by electronic means, the document may be provided 
electronically if the worker can access it through a computer, device, 
system, or network provided or made available by the contractor. See 
id. 52.222-60.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \122\ As specified in the FAR, if a significant portion of the 
contractor's or subcontractor's workforce is not fluent in English, 
the document notifying the worker of independent contractor status 
must also be in the language(s) other than English with which the 
significant portion(s) of the workforce is fluent. See FAR 52.222-
60(e)(1).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The notice must be provided at the time that an independent 
contractor relationship is established with the worker or before he or 
she performs any work under the contract. See FAR 52.222-60. The notice 
must be provided each time a worker begins work on a different covered 
contract, regardless of whether the worker already performs the same type 
of work on another covered contract. See id. If the contractor or 
subcontractor determines during performance of a covered contract that a 
worker's status has changed from employee to independent contractor, it 
must provide the worker with notice of independent contractor status 
before the worker performs any work under the contract as an independent 
contractor. See id.
    Enforcement agencies and courts determine whether a worker is an 
independent contractor under applicable laws. A contractor may not in 
its notice to a worker indicate or suggest that any enforcement agency 
or court agrees with the contractor's determination that the worker is 
an independent contractor. See FAR 52.222-60. The fact that a 
contractor has provided a worker with notice that he or she is an 
independent contractor does not mean that the worker is correctly 
classified as an independent contractor. For example, the Department 
would not consider the notice when determining whether a worker is an 
independent contractor or employee during an investigation regarding 
the contractor's compliance with the FLSA. The determination of whether 
a worker is an independent contractor under a particular law remains 
governed by that law's definition of "employee" and that law's 
standards for determining which workers are independent contractors and 
not employees.

VIII. Effective Date and Phase-In of Requirements

    The FAR rule is effective October 25, 2016. However, several of the 
requirements are not immediately applicable and are being phased in 
over the course of the following year. This phase in of the 
requirements is intended to allow the Government, contractors, 
subcontractors, and, particularly, small business contractors and 
subcontractors to prepare for and adapt to the requirements.

A. General Effect of Solicitation Provisions and Contract Clauses

    The Order's prime-contractor disclosure, subcontractor disclosure, 
and paycheck-transparency requirements are implemented through 
solicitation provisions and contract clauses in covered contracts. See 
FAR 22.2007. This means that contractors and subcontractors performing 
on contracts awarded prior to the effective date of the rule (or of 
specific requirements) will not be required to make the disclosures or 
to provide workers with wage statements and independent contractor 
notices--even after the effective date of the rule. In other words, the 
Order's requirements are not retroactive. Rather, these requirements 
only become effective when the solicitation provisions are included in 
a new solicitation and the contract clauses are included in a new 
contract.

B. Contractor Disclosure

    From October 25, 2016 to April 24, 2017, the Order's prime-
contractor disclosure requirements will apply only to solicitations 
from contracting agencies with an estimated value of $50 million or 
more, and resultant contracts. FAR 22.2007(a) and (c)(1). After April 
24, 2017, the requirements will apply to solicitations greater than 
$500,000--which is the amount specified in the Order--and resultant 
contracts. Id. 22.2007(a) and (c)(2); Order, section 2(a). This also 
applies to the commercial items equivalent for prime contractors, at 
FAR 52.212-3(s).

C. Subcontractor Disclosure

    The subcontractor disclosure provisions described in section V of 
this Guidance are not effective for the first year of operation of the 
FAR rule implementing the Order. Thus, while the rule overall is 
effective on October 25, 2016, the subcontractor disclosure provisions 
are not effective until October 25, 2017. See FAR 22.2007(b)-(c), 
52.222-59(c)(1). During this first year before the effective date, 
prospective subcontractors are encouraged to voluntarily contact the 
Department to request an assessment of their record of Labor Law 
compliance. See above section VI (Preassessment).

D. Phase-In of 3-Year Disclosure Period

    The general rule under the Order is that contractors and 
subcontractors must disclose Labor Law decisions that were rendered 
against them within the 3-year period prior to the date of the 
disclosure. See Sections II(B) and V(A)(1). This 3-year disclosure 
period is being phased in during the first years of the implementation 
of the Order, so that no contractor or subcontractor need disclose any 
Labor Law decisions that were rendered against them prior to October 
25, 2015. As the FAR states, contractors and subcontractors must make 
disclosures for Labor Law decisions rendered against them during the 
period beginning on October 25, 2015 to the date of the offer, or for 3 
years preceding the date of the offer, whichever period is shorter. See 
FAR 52.222-57(c)(1)-(2); 52.222-58(b). Thus, full implementation of the 
3-year disclosure period will be reached as of October 25, 2018.

E. Equivalent State Laws

    The Order requires disclosure of violations of the 14 Federal 
statutes and Executive orders, and also of violations of equivalent 
State laws defined in guidance issued by the Department. Order, section 
2(a)(i)(O). As noted above, in section II(B) of this Guidance, the 
Department has determined that OSHA-approved State Plans are the only 
equivalent State laws for the purpose of the Order at this time.
    In future guidance, published in the Federal Register, the 
Department will identify additional equivalent State laws. Until this 
subsequent guidance and a subsequent FAR amendment are published, 
contractors and subcontractors are not required by Order to disclose 
violations of State laws other than the OSHA-approved State Plans.

F. Paycheck Transparency Provisions

    The paycheck transparency provisions described in section VII of 
this Guidance are not effective until January 1, 2017. See FAR 
22.2007(d).

    Signed this 10th day of August, 2016.
Christopher P. Lu,
Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor.

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.000


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.001


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.002


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.003


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.004


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.005


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.006


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.007


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.008


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.009


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.010


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.011


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.012


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.013


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.014


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.015


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.016


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.017


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.018


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.019


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.020


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.021


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.022


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.023


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.024


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.025


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.026

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25AU16.027

[FR Doc. 2016-19678 Filed 8-24-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4510-HL-P