2018 Marks Big Changes and Compliance Enforcement Records for OFCCP

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has undergone a number of changes over the last year. In 2018, the federal agency issued a series of new directives aimed at improving how OFCCP operates. Over the summer, former Director Ondray Harris suddenly resigned. And at the end of December, acting Director Craig Leen was officially named to the position.

Despite the many changes OFCCP has seen in 2018, the agency has also produced a number of results toward expanding employment opportunities for United States citizens and eliminating discrimination in the workplace. 

Several of OFCCP’s new policy directives were aimed at improving outreach efforts at the agency to increase transparency around the compliance process and enforcement practices. In 2018, OFCCP held over 320 compliance assistance and outreach events across OFCCP’s six regions to educate and help contractors comply with their OFCCP requirements.  The agency also held town hall meetings to gather contractor input to identify opportunities for enhancing OFCCP’s compliance assistance. Additionally, OFCCP began working with the National Industry Liaison Group to promote contractor engagement, compliance assistance, and proactive compliance.

In addition to the new directives designed to increase outreach, this year also saw the implementation of new directives aimed at increasing transparency in all stages of OFCCP compliance activities. One of these directives, related to compensation, clarifies OFCCP’s approach and method for compensation analysis. And as a result of another directive, OFCCP began publishing the agency’s methodology and corporate scheduling announcement list for scheduling contractors for evaluation.

Along with efforts to increase transparency and improve outreach, this year OFCCP took action to provide federal contractors with more clarity about the agency’s enforcement activities. One 2018 directive outlined general expectations guiding interactions between contractors and OFCCP. The agency was also directed to implement an Ombud Service to facilitate the fair and equitable resolution of issues raised by OFCCP’s external stakeholders, especially Federal contractors. This year, OFCCP also made a commitment to providing fact-specific guidance, in the form of opinion letters, to employers and employees.

Overall, these new directives give OFCCP the power to operate more efficiently, but the agency also took concerted steps to make the compliance process more seamless for federal contractors. One new directive allows OFCCP to conduct focused reviews to evaluate compliance with only one of the laws it enforces instead of requiring reviews that evaluate compliance for all three laws (EO 11246, Section 503 and Section 4212). The agency has also begun developing a program to verify that contractors prepare and annually update their written affirmative action plans. And, in an effort to address compliance issues at a more broad level, OFCCP has put early resolution procedures in place to promote early and corporate-wide resolution of OFCCP violations.

As a result of these new changes, OFCCP recorded several accomplishments in 2018. These included a record number of settlements regarding employment discrimination claims. Over the last two fiscal years OFCCP secured more than $40 million in settlements for 23,669 American workers. In 2018, these settlements ranged from a $72,000 settlement to resolve back wages at a laundry services company in Georgia, to a $2.9 million settlement to resolve alleged pay discrimination at California-based technology company Dell EMC.

And OFCCP isn’t just about ramping up the consequences for contractors that run afoul of Federal regulations, the agency is also increasing efforts to reward and recognize those contractors doing the right thing. In 2018, OFCCP developed the Excellence in Disability Inclusion Award to recognize contractors that have expanded and improved recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The agency also developed the Leadership in Equal Access and Diversity Award to recognize supply and service contractors that exemplify a commitment to pursuing diversity and equal opportunity in the workplace.

Overall 2018 spelled big changes for federal contractors that promise to make the compliance process easier and more efficient. But regardless of the intent, these changes will likely be hard for some to navigate. For more information on what these changes mean for your organization, email [email protected].