- Federal Judge Halts Vaccine Mandate for Employees of Federal Contractors – read now
- Final Rule Issued on Federal Contractor Minimum Wages – read now
Federal Judge Halts Vaccine Mandate for Employees of Federal Contractors
Yesterday (December 7, 2021), a federal judge blocked President Biden’s administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors.
U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker, in Augusta, Georgia, halted the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors across the country. The ruling by Judge Baker, an appointee of former President Trump, is the latest in a series of legal setbacks for President Biden as his administration seeks to blunt the effects of a global pandemic that has killed more than 788,000 people in the U.S.
“The Court acknowledges the tragic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought throughout the nation and the globe,” Baker wrote in a 28-page ruling. “However, even in times of crisis this Court must preserve the rule of law and ensure that all branches of government act within the bounds of their constitutionally granted authorities.” Baker said the challengers were likely to prevail on their claim that President Biden exceeded his authority with the public health measure.
Federal contractors were facing a January 18, 2022 deadline to be fully vaccinated. This temporary order blocks the mandate while the case plays out in court.
A White House spokeswoman said the Justice Department would continue to defend the mandate. “The reason that we proposed these requirements is that we know they work, and we are confident in our ability, legally, to make these happen across the country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at Tuesday’s briefing.
Final Rule Issued on Federal Contractor Minimum Wages
On November 22, 2021, the Department of Labor announced the publication of the Final Rule implementing Executive Order 14026. That Executive Order was issued on April 27, 2021, by President Biden titled “Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors.” The Executive Order raises the minimum wage paid by federal contractors to workers performing work on or in connection with covered federal contracts to $15.00 per hour, beginning January 30, 2022. The Order also provides that beginning January 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, the hourly rate will be set at an amount determined by the Secretary of Labor. This Final Rule establishes standards and procedures for implementing and enforcing the minimum wage protections of the Executive Order, and also becomes effective on January 30, 2022.
The new minimum wage requirements apply only to “new contracts” with the Federal Government. A “new contract” is defined as contract that is entered into on or after January 30, 2022. A contract that is entered into prior to January 30, 2022 will also constitute a “new contract” if, on or after January 30, 2022 the contract is renewed, extended or an option on the contract is exercised. For contracts that were entered into prior to January 30, 2022, the Order’s minimum wage requirement only applies prospectively as of the date that such contract is renewed or extended on or after January 30, 2022, and not the date that the contract was originally entered into. However, the Final Rule provides that the Executive Order does not apply to contracts that result from a solicitation issued prior to January 30, 2022, and that are entered into on or between January 30, 2022 and March 30, 2022. Under the Final Rule, the Executive Order applies to a wide range of contracts with the Federal Government for services and construction. Coverage generally extends to four major categories of contractual agreements: Procurement contracts for construction covered by the Davis Bacon Act (“DBA”); Service contracts covered by the Services Contract Act (“SCA”); Concessions contracts, including any concessions contract excluded from the SCA by the Department’s regulations at 29 CFR 4.133(b); and Contracts in connection with Federal property or lands and related to offering services for Federal employees, their dependents, or the general public. There are also value threshold requirements for coverage, but those are very small. For example, the Executive Order will apply to prime contracts covered by the DBA that exceed $2,000 and prime contracts covered by the SCA that exceed $2,500. Contracts for the manufacturing or furnishing of materials, supplies, articles, or equipment to the Federal Government, including those subject to the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act, 41 U.S.C. 6501 et seq., are not covered by the Executive Order. To the extent practicable, the Final Rule incorporates existing definitions, procedures, remedies, and enforcement processes under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Service Contract Act (SCA), the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA), and prior Executive Order 13658. If you have any questions about the Executive Order or the Final Rule, please contact our Government Contracts Practice Group.
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