Federal Contractors

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Rule Implementing Executive Order 13658 (Minimum Wage for Certain Federal Contractors)

October 7, 2014

By Subhash Viswanathan
On October 1, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the issuance of its final rule implementing Executive Order 13658, which establishes a minimum wage requirement for certain federal contractors.  The final rule was published in the Federal Register today, October 7. As we stated in a prior blog post, Executive Order 13658 requires that certain types of new federal contracts and subcontracts contain a clause specifying that the minimum wage to be paid to workers must be at least $10.10 per hour beginning January 1, 2015.  The new $10.10 minimum wage will also apply to disabled employees who are currently working under a special certificate issued by the Secretary of Labor permitting payment of less than the minimum wage. The final rule defines "new contract" as a contract that results from a solicitation issued on or after January 1, 2015, or a contract that is awarded outside the solicitation process on or after January 1, 2015.  A contract that was entered into prior to January 1, 2015 will constitute a "new contract" if, through bilateral negotiation, on or after January 1, 2015:  (1) the contract is renewed; (2) the contract is extended (unless the extension is made pursuant to a term in the existing contract providing for a short-term limited extension; or (3) the contract is amended pursuant to a modification that is outside the scope of the existing contract. The final rule also clarifies, to some degree, the types of federal contracts and subcontracts covered by the Executive Order.  The following types of contracts and subcontracts are covered:  (1) procurement contracts for construction covered by the Davis-Bacon Act; (2) contracts for services covered by the Service Contract Act; (3) contracts for concessions, including any concessions contract excluded from coverage under the Service Contract Act; and (4) contracts entered into in connection with federal property or lands and related to offering services for federal employees, their dependents, or the general public.  Grants, within the meaning of the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, are expressly excluded from coverage. Beginning January 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, the minimum wage for federal contractors will be increased by the Secretary of Labor based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, and rounded to the nearest multiple of five cents.  The Secretary of Labor is required to publish the new minimum wage at least 90 days before the new minimum wage is scheduled to take effect. For tipped employees, the hourly cash wage paid by a federal contractor must be at least $4.90 beginning on January 1, 2015.  In each subsequent year, the federal contractor minimum wage for tipped employees will be increased by 95 cents until it equals 70 percent of the federal contractor minimum wage in effect for non-tipped employees.  If an employee’s tips, when added to the hourly wage, do not add up to the federal contractor minimum wage for non-tipped employees, the federal contractor will be required to supplement the employee’s hourly wage to make up the difference. The final rule also provides an investigation and enforcement procedure with respect to alleged violations of Executive Order 13658.  The potential remedies and sanctions that could be imposed include:  (1) requiring payment of back wages owed; (2) withholding of amounts due to the contractor under the federal contract to the extent necessary to satisfy the contractor's wage obligations; and (3) debarment for a period of up to three years. The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division has published on its web site a list of frequently asked questions and a fact sheet about Executive Order 13658.

OFCCP Proposes Rule Regarding Annual Submission of Employee Compensation Data

August 14, 2014

By Larry P. Malfitano
On August 6, 2014, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) issued a proposed rule requiring covered Federal contractors and subcontractors with more than 100 employees to submit an annual Equal Pay Report on employee compensation.  Prior to this proposed rule, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum on April 8, 2014, instructing the Secretary of Labor to propose a rule within 120 days to collect compensation data from Federal contractors and subcontractors. The Equal Pay Report applies to contractors and first-tier subcontractors who are required to file EEO-1 Reports, have more than 100 employees, and have a Federal contract, subcontract, or purchase order worth $50,000 or more that covers a period of at least 30 days.  The Report requires contractors to submit:
  • Total number of workers within a specific EEO-1 job category by race, ethnicity, and sex;
  • Total W-2 wages, defined as the total individual W-2 wages for all workers in the job category by race, ethnicity, and sex; and
  • Total hours worked, defined as the number of hours worked by all employees in the job category by race, ethnicity, and sex.
According to the OFCCP, this data will allow the OFCCP to direct its enforcement resources towards Federal contractors whose summary data suggests potential pay violations.  However, according to a Fact Sheet and FAQs published by OFCCP, the Equal Pay Report will not collect individual pay data or additional factors that may affect pay. The OFCCP is proposing a reporting window of January 1 to March 31.  The data would be based on W-2 earnings for the prior calendar year for all employees included in the contractor’s EEO-1 report for that year. The OFCCP plans to develop a web-based portal for reporting and maintaining compensation information that conforms to applicable IT security standards.  The OFCCP has indicated it intends to protect the confidentiality of the data to the maximum extent permitted under the Freedom of Information Act. Comments regarding the proposed rule must be submitted by November 6, 2014.

President Obama Signs Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order

August 4, 2014

By Subhash Viswanathan
On July 31, 2014, President Obama signed the "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces" Executive Order, which requires bidders on federal procurement contracts for goods and services (including construction) in excess of $500,000 to disclose labor law violations that have occurred within the three-year period immediately preceding the bid.  In addition, the Executive Order requires federal contractors to provide individuals who perform work under the federal contract with information regarding hours worked, overtime hours, pay, and any additions made to or deductions made from pay.  The Executive Order also prohibits federal contractors with contracts in excess of $1,000,000 from entering into mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements with their employees or independent contractors to resolve complaints under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII") or tort claims arising out of alleged sexual assault or harassment. For procurement contracts for goods and services, including construction, where the estimated value of the supplies acquired and services required exceeds $500,000, each bidder must disclose whether there has been any administrative merits determination, arbitral award or decision, or civil judgment against the bidder within the preceding three-year period for violations of any of the following labor laws and Executive Orders:
  • the Fair Labor Standards Act;
  • the Occupational Safety and Health Act;
  • the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act;
  • the National Labor Relations Act;
  • the Davis-Bacon Act;
  • the Service Contract Act;
  • Executive Order 11246 (Equal Employment Opportunity)
  • Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act;
  • the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act;
  • the Family and Medical Leave Act;
  • Title VII;
  • the Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • the Age Discrimination in Employment Act;
  • Executive Order 13658 (Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors); and
  • equivalent state laws.
A bidder's disclosure of labor law violations will not necessarily automatically disqualify the bidder from receiving the federal contract, but the information will be considered in determining whether the bidder is a responsible source that has a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics.  Federal contractors are also obligated to require prospective subcontractors to disclose labor law violations within the preceding three-year period, and are required to consider the information obtained in awarding subcontracts.  During the performance of a federal contract, each federal contractor subject to the Executive Order is required to update its own labor law violation disclosure and to obtain an updated labor law violation disclosure from each subcontractor every six months. Federal contractors who are awarded procurement contracts for goods and services (including construction) in excess of $500,000 are also required to provide each individual performing work under the contract with a document containing information regarding the individual's hours worked, overtime hours, pay, and any additions made to or deductions made from pay.  Employees who are exempt from the overtime compensation requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act need not be given information regarding their hours worked.  Compliance with any state or local requirements that the Secretary of Labor has determined are "substantially similar" to the requirements of the Executive Order (such as, presumably, the requirements of the Wage Theft Prevention Act) will be deemed compliance with the terms of the Executive Order.  If a federal contractor is treating an individual performing work under the federal contract or subcontract as an independent contractor, the federal contractor must provide the individual with a document informing the individual of this status. Finally, the Executive Order provides that for all contracts where the estimated value of the supplies acquired and services required exceeds $1,000,000, federal contractors and subcontractors must agree that the decision to arbitrate claims under Title VII or tort claims arising out of alleged sexual assault or harassment may only be made with the voluntary consent of employees or independent contractors after the dispute arises.  Thus, federal contractors and subcontractors may not enter into mandatory arbitration agreements with employees or independent contractors to resolve Title VII claims or sexual assault/harassment tort claims before a dispute actually arises.  This prohibition does not apply to employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, nor does it apply to employees or independent contractors who entered into a valid arbitration agreement prior to the contractor or subcontractor bidding on a contract covered by the Executive Order. The Executive Order directs the Federal Acquisition Regulatory ("FAR") Council (in consultation with the Department of Labor and the Office of Management and Budget) to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation to identify considerations for determining whether serious, willful, or pervasive violations of the labor laws demonstrate a lack of integrity or business ethics.  In addition, the Secretary of Labor is directed to develop guidance and processes to implement the provisions of the Executive Order.  The Executive Order will apply to all solicitations for contracts as set forth in any final rule issued by the FAR Council.

President Obama Signs Executive Order Prohibiting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination By Federal Contractors

July 21, 2014

By Subhash Viswanathan
As expected, President Obama signed an Executive Order today which amends Executive Order 11246 to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against employees or applicants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  The prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation is not new to federal contractors who operate in New York State, because the New York Human Rights Law already prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Nevertheless, all federal contractors in New York should take this opportunity to review their policies and practices to ensure compliance with the new Executive Order.  Specifically, all anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies should specifically list sexual orientation and gender identity among the protected categories, and all solicitations for employees should include a statement that qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity (in addition to the other protected categories). The Secretary of Labor has been directed to issue regulations implementing the amendments to Executive Order 11246 within 90 days.  The amendments to Executive Order 11246 will apply to federal contracts entered into on or after the effective date of the regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor.

President Signs Executive Order Establishing Minimum Wage For Federal Contractors

February 13, 2014

By Subhash Viswanathan

On February 12, 2014, President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring that all new federal contracts and subcontracts contain a clause specifying that the minimum wage to be paid to workers under those federal contracts and subcontracts must be at least $10.10 per hour beginning January 1, 2015.  The federal contracts and subcontracts covered by this Executive Order include procurement contracts for services or construction and contracts for concessions.  This new $10.10 minimum wage will also apply to disabled employees who are currently working under a special certificate issued by the Secretary of Labor permitting payment of less than the minimum wage. Beginning January 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, the minimum wage for federal contractors will be increased by the Secretary of Labor based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, and rounded to the nearest multiple of five cents.  The Secretary of Labor is required to publish the new minimum wage at least 90 days before the new minimum wage is scheduled to take effect. For tipped employees, the hourly cash wage that must be paid by a federal contractor must be at least $4.90 beginning on January 1, 2015.  In each subsequent year, the federal contractor minimum wage for tipped employees will be increased by 95 cents until it equals 70 percent of the federal contractor minimum wage in effect for non-tipped employees.  If an employee’s tips, when added to the hourly wage, do not add up to the federal contractor minimum wage for non-tipped employees, the federal contractor will be required to supplement the employee's hourly wage to make up the difference. The Secretary of Labor is expected to issue regulations by October 1, 2014, to implement the provisions of the Executive Order.

Ten Steps Federal Contractors Should Take to Prepare for OFCCP's Revised Regulations Applicable to Veterans and Disabled Individuals

November 19, 2013

By Larry P. Malfitano

The revised Regulations issued by the Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”), addressing affirmative action obligations applicable to disabled individuals under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (“Section 503”), and to protected veterans pursuant to the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended (“VEVRAA”), become effective March 24, 2014.  Due to the numerous requirements in these new Regulations, contractors should start reviewing and implementing procedures to ensure compliance. Ten steps that covered contractors should implement by March 24, 2014 include:

  1. Review current electronic systems and databases to determine if there is capacity to capture protected veteran and disability status for both applicants and employees.  If not, contractors will need to invest in new systems or methods to capture this required data.
  2. Review current referral sources to determine if sources are providing qualified protected candidates; sources that are not should be eliminated and/or new ones should be added.  This is a key component for meeting the 8% hiring benchmark under VEVRAA and the 7% utilization goal under Section 503.
  3. Ensure all required notices are posted.  Where notices are posted electronically, make sure they are accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities.  For contractors who use electronic or internet-based application processes, an electronic notice must be posted and stored with the electronic application to inform job applicants of their EEO rights.
  4. Review collective bargaining agreements to determine if the agreements include notice of the contractor’s affirmative action and non-discrimination policies and request for cooperation.  If they do not, contractors should send annual letters to each union, notifying the union(s) of the policies and requesting cooperation.
  5. Review and update the list of all existing subcontracts, including vendors and suppliers, who should be receiving the mandatory written notice to subcontractors of the contractor’s affirmative action efforts and request for cooperation.
  6. Revise contracts and purchase orders to include the revised mandatory EEO language under both Section 503 and VEVRAA.
  7. Make sure solicitations and advertisements include all the protected categories – minorities, females, disabled individuals, and veterans.  OFCCP has indicated in recent FAQs that just using “D” and “V” is not adequate since abbreviations must be commonly understood by jobseekers.
  8. Update recordkeeping procedures to incorporate the three-year retention requirement for specific records under Section 503 (documentation and assessment of external outreach and data collection analysis) and VEVRAA (documentation and assessment of external outreach, data collection analysis, and benchmarking records).
  9. Revise self-identification forms inviting applicants to self-identify at both the pre-offer and post-offer stage of the selection process.  All Section 503 invitations must use the new OFCCP form which will be posted on OFCCP’s website once approved.  Under the Section 503 Regulations, employees must be invited to self-identify again every five years and reminded on an annual basis that they can voluntarily update their status at any time.
  10. Adopt written reasonable accommodation procedures to ensure uniformity in processing requests.  The OFCCP’s guidance for creating procedures (listed in Section 503 Regulations as Appendix B) can be used in developing such procedures.

OFCCP Increases Its Focus on Compensation Issues

October 17, 2012

By Larry P. Malfitano

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) has significantly increased its focus on employers’ compensation systems during scheduled affirmative action compliance audits.  In fiscal year 2011, OFCCP had 27 compliance evaluations with pay provisions for alleged compensation disparities, totaling $1.06 million in monetary benefits.  In 2010, OFCCP reached 10 settlements for alleged bias in compensation.  These are significant increases from 2009 and 2008; only two findings of alleged compensation discrimination were found in 2009 and zero in 2008.

Under Executive Order 11246, Federal contractors are required to conduct self-audits of their pay systems to identify potential gender or race based disparities.  If pay disparities are found, contractors are expected to correct the disparities prior to any potential government audit.  In light of the OFCCP’s increased scrutiny of compensation systems, contractors need to protect themselves by collecting and storing detailed data on factors affecting employees’ pay, such as years of prior job experience, time at the company, time in the position, education, performance ratings, pay grade or level, and additional compensation (commissions, bonuses, incentives, overtime, etc.).  Federal contractors should also be sure to preserve all salary records for employees, to allow for the creation of a salary history for individual employees.  In addition, contractors should have written compensation guidelines, as well as defined polices influencing compensation, such as the impact of performance evaluations on compensation.

It is expected that OFCCP’s heightened focus on compensation will continue to grow. To avoid significant back pay awards based on perceived pay disparities due to race or gender, employers must be proactive in self-auditing their compensation practices and making appropriate adjustments prior to any government review.

Federal Contractors Should Prepare for OFCCP's New Enforcement Efforts

May 29, 2012

By Larry P. Malfitano

Federal contractors may want to start preparing for proposed changes to the regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs ("OFCCP"), in connection with federal contractors' affirmative action obligations.  OFCCP expects to have new final regulations in place during 2012, which will increase federal contractors' obligations regarding veterans and disabled individuals, as well as modify the documentation required during compliance evaluations.

Proactive steps that covered employers should consider taking include:

  1. Review outreach and recruitment efforts, particularly with agencies representing disabled individuals and veterans.  Documentation should be kept of all outreach efforts, as well as any responses.
  2. Invite applicants to identify themselves as covered veterans.
  3. Check whether all non-executive job openings are being posted with the appropriate state employment delivery service and maintain documentation of postings.
  4. Review handbooks and employment policies regarding leaves of absence and reasonable accommodations.
  5. Analyze current data collection systems to determine whether there are any issues with collecting the additional information in the OFCCP's proposed Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing:  (a) employment activity will be required to be submitted by job group and job title; and (b) individual compensation data will need to be submitted for all employees, including such information as gender, race/ethnicity, job title, EEO-1 category, job group, date of hire, base salary, wage rate, hours worked, and other compensation, such as bonuses, incentives, commissions, merit increases, locality pay, and overtime.
  6. Analyze compensation data to determine if adjustments need to be made to eliminate any potential problematic pay disparities.

The proposed Itemized Listing requires covered employers to provide the OFCCP with individualized compensation data for all employees, which will enable the OFCCP to run a variety of analyses.  Covered employers should keep in mind that the OFCCP may not have appropriate measures to safeguard this sensitive data from Freedom of Information Act requests.  Before submitting any compensation data, covered employers should take steps to protect such information.

Major Changes Proposed for Affirmative Action Plans Covering Individuals with Disabilities

January 9, 2012

By Larry P. Malfitano

The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs ("OFCCP"), recently issued a proposal to revise the regulations applicable to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires Federal contractors to take affirmative action to hire, retain, and promote qualified individuals with disabilities.  The proposed changes, if implemented, will substantially increase the obligations imposed on Federal contractors with respect to individuals with disabilities.

The OFCCP proposal includes the following requirements:

  1. Contractors will need to annually survey their employees, providing an opportunity for each employee who is, or subsequently becomes, an individual with a disability to voluntarily self-identify in an anonymous manner.  In addition, contractors will be required to invite applicants to self-identify as individuals with disabilities at both the pre- and post-offer stages, using OFCCP mandated language.
  2. Contractors will be required to document and maintain data on ratio of jobs filled to openings, ratio of applicants with disabilities to all applicants, total number of applicants hired, and ratio of individuals with disabilities hired to all hires.
  3. Contractors will be required to engage in mandatory outreach/recruitment efforts that involve listing all employment opportunities (with limited exceptions) with the local employment delivery service, similar to the current obligations under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act.  Additional required outreach efforts will also be required, including entering into a minimum of three linkage agreements with specific types of outreach sources.  In addition, an annual review and documentation of these recruitment efforts will be required to determine effectiveness in identifying and recruiting qualified individuals with disabilities.
  4. Contractors will be required to establish a utilization goal for individuals with disabilities and set hiring goals for each Job Group in the workforce.  OFCCP proposed a utilization goal of 7%.  However, OFCCP is inviting public comments on the use of a 7% goal and appears willing to consider a goal ranging between 4% and 10%.
  5. Contractors will be required to implement written reasonable accommodation procedures and include the written procedures in their Affirmative Action Plans.
  6. Contractors will be required to annually review and document their personnel processes, as well as physical and mental job qualifications, instead of doing so periodically.
  7. Contractors will be obligated to retain outreach documentation and data collection for five years.

Comments on the proposed rule from interested parties may be submitted to the OFCCP on or before February 7, 2012.  OFCCP anticipates a final rule will be published around Fall of 2012.

Recent OFCCP and EEOC Enforcement Actions Suggest an Increased Focus on Alleged Discriminatory Hiring Practices

December 2, 2011

Recent complaints filed by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs ("OFCCP") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against employers suggest that those federal agencies are aggressively pursuing allegations of discriminatory hiring practices.

On November 29, the OFCCP filed an administrative complaint against Cargill Meat Solutions, a federal contractor, alleging that the company violated Executive Order 11246, by favoring Asian and Pacific Islander applicants over applicants of other races and by favoring male applicants over female applicants.  In the complaint, the OFCCP alleges that over 4,000 qualified applicants were unlawfully rejected based only on their race or sex.  Significantly, the OFCCP seeks cancellation of the company's government contracts worth more than $550 million.

In the last several months, the EEOC has also filed two high-profile lawsuits against employers for alleged discriminatory hiring practices.  In September, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Bass Pro Shops in the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, alleging that the company engaged in a pattern or practice of failing to hire African-American and Hispanic applicants.  In the lawsuit, the EEOC alleges that managers made overt racist comments acknowledging the company's discriminatory hiring practices, and stated that African-American applicants did not fit their corporate profile.

In October, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Texas Roadhouse in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, alleging that the company systematically failed to hire individuals over 40 years of age for "front of the house" positions.  In the lawsuit, the EEOC alleges that only 1.9% of the "front of the house" employees are over 40 years of age (which the EEOC believes is a statistically significant disparity when compared to the general population, industry statistics, and the applicant pool) and that the company instructed managers to hire younger employees by emphasizing youth in its hiring training.

At this point, these enforcement actions by the OFCCP and EEOC have not resulted in any final determinations or judgments.  Nevertheless, these enforcement actions serve as a useful reminder for employers of all sizes to continually monitor their hiring practices and periodically train managers who have hiring responsibilities to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local laws.

The Wait Is Over: OFCCP Issues New Directive On Functional Affirmative Action Programs

July 20, 2011

By Tyler T. Hendry

Federal contractors should be aware that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently issued a much anticipated directive impacting certain affirmative action programs. The new directive, which became effective on June 14, 2011, outlines the procedures for developing and maintaining a “Functional Affirmative Action Program” (FAAP).  The directive ends OFCCP’s year-long moratorium on processing contractor requests to develop or renew FAAP agreements.

FAAPs are affirmative action programs covering a particular business function or business unit rather than covering a particular establishment or worksite. For example, covered contractors may develop an FAAP for all marketing associates across multiple offices in different states, instead of having to create affirmative action programs for each individual establishment where those associates work. Unlike establishment-based programs, covered contractors cannot implement FAAPs without first obtaining OFCCP approval and then entering into an agreement with the Agency.
 

The new directive makes what OFCCP considers to be “significant changes” to the FAAP approval and agreement processes. Under the directive, a contractor must obtain prior written approval from OFCCP before developing an FAAP. This terminates OFCCP’s past practice of allowing for automatic approval if the Agency failed to act on a contractor’s FAAP request within 120 days.

The directive also sets forth contractor eligibility requirements. Each business function or unit must meet the following criteria to be considered eligible for an FAAP:

  • Currently exist and operate autonomously;
  • Have personnel practices or transactional activities (e.g., hires, promotions, terminations, compensation decisions) that are distinguishable from other parts of the contractor’s organization;
  • Include at least 50 employees;
  • Have its own managing official; and
  • Have the ability to track and maintain its own personnel activity.

In addition, FAAP agreements will now expire after three years, rather than five, and contractors could face compliance audits if they fail to submit an annual FAAP update.

In terms of practical guidance, the directive outlines the elements that must be included in an FAAP, the basic principles of FAAP agreements, and the procedures for requesting, modifying, updating, renewing, or terminating such agreements. Attachments to the directive provide a checklist of documents that must be submitted during the approval process and examples of how contractors may develop either an establishment-based affirmative action program or the alternative FAAP. OFCCP has also published a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding FAAPs on its website.

Employers considering the use of FAAPs should carefully review the obligations and requirements imposed by the new directive. At the same time, employers with existing FAAPs should review the directive for guidance on renewing, modifying, or terminating such agreements.
 

Documentation is Key to Surviving OFCCP Audit

December 2, 2010

By Larry P. Malfitano

Documentation of employment activities and workplace investigations is critical for all employers. Federal contractors subject to affirmative action compliance audits by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) must be particularly diligent. The existence or absence of appropriate documentation during an OFCCP compliance audit often dictates the length and ultimate result of the audit.

Some of the records that are essential to the successful completion of an affirmative action audit are:

  • proof of listing all non-executive vacancies with the local office of the Department of Labor;
  • copies of outreach letters/e-mails to organizations showing efforts to attract qualified minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and veterans;
  • applicant tracking data, identifying race, gender, position applied for, and disposition of all “applicants;”
  • identification by race and gender of hires, promotions, transfers, demotions, and terminations;
  • annual adverse impact analyses of personnel activities, including applicant/hires, promotions, transfers, demotions, and terminations;
  •  annual analysis of compensation for potential disparities due to race and/or gender; and
  • copies of EEO-1 and VETS-100 filings for the prior three years.

 

An employer that has not sufficiently documented its hiring and other personnel decisions can face serious problems during an audit, where it has the burden of explaining why particular decisions were made. If the employer does not have a system of recording and maintaining information about its hiring and other personnel decisions, it will be very difficult to recreate the decision-making process during the audit.

Not only must a federal contractor ensure that all personnel activity is documented in order to successfully navigate an audit, it must also take steps to maintain the documentation on a longer term basis. While OFCCP regulations require covered employers to maintain all applicable records for a minimum of two years, many federal and state record retention laws exceed that requirement. Federal and state statutes of limitations on bringing employment claims may also counsel in favor of retaining records for longer than the two year period required by OFCCP.

One record OFCCP will not review during new audits is the I-9 Form used by employers to verify the identity and U.S. employment eligibility of hired individuals. OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu recently announced that OFCCP will no longer inspect employers’ I-9 Forms during on-site compliance reviews. Director Shiu indicated that a new directive pertaining to I-9 inspections would soon be issued.