On August 11, 2017, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a consent decree for B&H Foto & Electronics Corp. to resolve allegations of hiring, compensation, and promotion discrimination. What is a consent decree? It is an agreement or settlement to resolve a dispute between two parties—in this case between OFCCP and B&H Foto—without an admission of liability or guilt.
This decree is to settle the administrative complaint by OFCCP for the B&H Foto warehouse facility in Brooklyn, NY. The decree settles allegations of discrimination against women, African American, and Asian job seekers for entry level positions in favor of Hispanic men, who were then subjected to lower wages, fewer opportunities for advancement, and harassment. The settlement totals $3,220,000 to be paid to more than 1,300 affected class members.
B&H Foto has agreed to make payments of over $345,000 to the “hiring class members,” as well as offer positions to 10 women, eight Blacks, and five Asians who were previously not hired. The company will also pay out $2.4 million for compensation claims, conduct a review of base salaries, and correct for any unexplained statistically significant inequities related to sex or race for the specifically identified job groups. Approximately $400,000 of monetary relief will be used for promotions, and B&H Foto will provide advancement opportunities to specified class members, as vacancies occur. Additionally, the company has agreed to provide training for groups of employees to assist in obtaining the skills required for promotion into higher level jobs. All money will be distributed among the eligible class members and is subject to normal payroll taxes.
There were several remedies related to the workplace environment at the company noted in the decree. These included dissemination of an anti-harassment policy and assurances for non-retaliatory actions for employees making a harassment claim. The company will provide annual anti-harassment training and place a contact name for reporting harassment in a visible place at all locations.
Another interesting remedy is the hiring of a workplace consultant to evaluate and provide guidance for compliance related hiring, compensation, promotion policies and procedures, and training. This consultant will require the approval from the OFCCP.
There will be five Consent Decree Progress Reports due to the OFCCP. The progress reports, due every six months for 30 months, are comprehensive and very detailed.
The administrative time and cost to B&H Foto are not part of the settlement and will be substantial. Failure to comply with the agreement could result in debarment. Therefore, the stakes are high for this company.
Do you want to protect your company from discriminatory practices resulting liability? Contact Berkshire Associates today for support in analyzing your workforce the right way.