The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order

Advocacy Letter - 11/13/14

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: Majority Leader Harry Reid

View the PDF of this letter here.

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-221, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Re:       The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order

Dear Majority Leader Reid:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the undersigned 40 organizations, we urge you to protect The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order against any attempts to diminish or undermine it during the lame duck session. We believe the executive order will improve the lives of millions of workers—helping to ensure they have access to fair pay, benefits, and working conditions. We would like the opportunity to meet with you or your senior staff to discuss the threats against this important and ground breaking effort by the administration, which affects the communities we represent.

By cracking down on federal contractors that break the law, this executive order will help ensure that all hardworking Americans get the fair pay and safe workplaces they deserve. By requiring that an employer’s workplace violations be taken into consideration when the government awards federal contracts, it will no longer be acceptable to award federal contracts to companies that routinely violate workplace health and safety protections, engage in age, disability, race, and sex discrimination or withhold wages, and other labor violations. This is critically important since the Department of Labor estimates that there are roughly 24,000 businesses with federal contracts, employing about 28 million workers—at least 20 percent of the civilian workforce.

We are also pleased the executive order attempts to help contractors comply with workplace protections. Companies with labor law violations may receive early guidance on whether those violations are problematic and will have an opportunity to remedy those problems. Contracting officers will take these steps into account before awarding a contract and ensure the contractor is living up to the terms of its agreement.

The executive order will also limit the use of forced arbitration clauses involving disputes arising from Title VII and tort claims related to sexual assault and sexual harassment. This is a key advance in safeguarding workplace rights. In general, forced arbitration makes dozens of antidiscrimination laws unenforceable in court, allowing employers to circumvent civil rights and labor laws intended to protect people from employment discrimination.

The executive order is a common sense measure that will make our contracting system fairer and ensure that companies receiving taxpayer-funded contracts provide basic wage and workplace standards. It has broad public support. A recent survey conducted by Hart Research found that 71% of voters, including 69% of independent voters, favor an executive order that requires government agencies to review the record of companies that want federal contracts, to ensure these companies have not violated labor and employment laws.

We look forward to meeting with you as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Zirkin at (202) 466-3311 or Leadership Conference Senior Counsel Lexer Quamie at (202) 466-3648 or email quamie@civilrights.org.




National Organizations


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

9to5, National Association of Working Women



American Association of University Women

American Association for Justice

American Civil Liberties Union

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO

American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

Anti-Defamation League

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Compliance USA, Inc


Equal Rights Advocates

Farmworker Justice

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.

Institute for Science and Human Values

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)


National Black Justice Coalition

National Consumers League

National Council of Jewish Women

National Disability Rights Network

National Education Association

National Employment Law Project

National Employment Lawyers Association

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Urban League

National Women’s Law Center

National Workrights Institute


Service Employees International Union

Solomon Project


Wider Opportunities for Women

Women Employed


State and Local Organizations


Chicago Women in Trades (Chicago, Illinois)

Women's Law Project (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Our Members