Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Florida has entered into a conciliation agreement with OFCCP to settle allegations of pay discrimination based on gender. According to the conciliation agreement, OFCCP alleges that between July 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016, the University failed to evaluate their compensation and other related personnel processes to ensure that there were no gender related disparities. As a result, OFCCP contends that 86 women in NSU’s Business-Related Director / Manager – Exempt job group were not paid fairly. Prior signing the agreement, NSU certified that they had adjusted the salaries of the women affected with annual salary adjustments totaling nearly $600,000. In addition, the University has agreed to award back pay totaling an additional $300,000.
Beyond the financial remedies, NSU agreed to review and revise its employment and compensation policies to include: (1) a mechanism for monitoring all aspects of its compensation system including its process for training selection, advancement opportunities, and placement into higher jobs, (2) a dissemination of the policies to employees; and (3) communicating to employees how to pursue promotional opportunities. The University will update all positions, assigned categories, and grade assignments, and issue written guidelines to include a pre-Position Review Committee EEO review.
The University committed to development of career ladders for other job families and assurance that HR is aware of those career ladders, strengthening the decentralized recruitment process, and implementing a new applicant tracking system. Further, they will train managers, supervisors, and personnel involved in making compensation decisions, and provide annual training for HR in non-discrimination, affirmative action, outreach and HR process best practices. NSU must also provide annual briefing to top university leadership outlining the results of the AAP.
This settlement has two very interesting nuances. First, the agreement covered 13 different campuses of the university, rather than a single establishment. Also, as a part of the agreement, NSU has agreed to meet with the OFCCP’s Functional Affirmative Action Program (FAAP) Unit to discuss the option of NSU creating FAAPs.
The settlement also provides a good reminder that Federal contractors are required to review their employment and personnel processes to ensure they do not result in potential disparities. Failure to do so in this case not only presented a financial impact to correct the pay disparities, but also non-financial remedies that reach far beyond payments to the affected individuals.