The House of Representatives recently passed a Defense spending bill that includes a provision allowing all Federal employees to take 12 weeks of paid leave after the birth, adoption, or placement of a foster child. This is a radical change for the government, which currently has no parental leave policy in place. Also included in the proposed spending package is a 3.1% pay increase for service members.
As a reputed authority on matters of affirmative action and equal employment regulation, Berkshire has been asked to testify at a hearing next week regarding the future of the EEO-1 Component 2 pay data collection.
This past week, Berkshire submitted comments in response to the Sept. 12 notice by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to discontinue the EEO-1 Component 2 collection while renewing Component 1, which collects race/ethnicity and gender information on employees in ten occupational categories.
Last week, President Trump rescinded Executive Order (EO) 13495, the Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts. President Obama issued this order in January 2009, along with two other EOs that directly impact Federal contractors. Under the old EO, companies assuming performance of an existing contract were required to offer employees of the existing contractor first right of refusal when staffing for the new contract. The EO also required all Federal contractors to display a poster informing employees of their rights. This recession also terminated any investigations or compliance actions based on Executive Order 13495.
The OFCCP recovered a record amount in monetary damages in fiscal 2019, which came to a close at the end of September. The agency announced just over $45M in financial remedies, almost equally split between hiring and compensation discrimination claims. The agency indicates this is a $16M increase over its fiscal 2018 enforcement recovery. The number of audits completed is up over last year as well – while complete 2019 data is not yet available, the agency closed just over 800 reviews in 2018 and almost 1100 from October 2018 through the beginning of September 2019.
Implementing two items under the pillar of Transparency, the OFCCP has announced the placement of an Ombudsman and released a Compliance Portal.
OFCCP has announced a new Ombudsman, Marcus Stergio. Director Leen issued a Directive establishing this position in September 2018, and the Ombudsman will serve as a liaison between contractors and the agency. His office will ensure that OFCCP is acting according to the agency’s legal authorities, policies, and procedures while also improving effectiveness of internal OFCCP operations. Marcus holds a Masters degree in conflict resolution and has worked as an administrator of the dispute resolution process for multi-national organizations.
OFCCP recently released a new webpage aimed at providing compliance assistance documents to contractors. This page was developed as a result of the OFCCP town hall meetings and includes an OFCCP overview brochure, which introduces the agency and its enforcement approach to contractors. There is a “what to expect” document, which outlines items the agency expects from contractors as well as the rights contractors have when interfacing with the agency in a compliance review or investigation.
This week, OFCCP created a webpage to provide contractors more information about the “new” compliance check reviews that will be completed as part of the current round of audits. OFCCP has had the capability to conduct compliance checks for many years but has not opted to schedule them in the recent past. With this round of reviews, OFCCP re-introduced the Compliance Check, to be used in 500 of the 3,000 audits to be scheduled in the coming months. The agency has indicated they intend to schedule up to 1,000 Checks per audit list in the coming years, as a means of ensuring compliance across more contractor establishments.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take on two issues that directly impact Federal Contractors this week. The first case is based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and debates the question of if that statue extends anti-discrimination provisions based on sexual orientation or transgender status. Federal appeals courts have come to opposing conclusions on this provision, from New York, Georgia, and Illinois.