Wednesday, August 4, 2021: Four OFCCP Regional Directors Provided Updates and Recommendations
Background Note: We learned at the NILG Conference that OFCCP staffing has slipped another approximately 30 employees and now employs only 420 employees while continuing to attrit employees and finding hiring very difficult.
The Regional Directors of the OFCCP wrapped up the NILG conference by providing updates from their respective regions and recommendations for federal contractors. Melissa Speer kicked off the panel discussion with a national update that in FY 2020 [this is last year, the last full year of the Trump Administration: ended September 30, 2020], the OFCCP closed 1,320 Compliance Evaluations, settled 71 audits involving allegations of alleged unlawful employment discrimination, and recovered more than 31.8 million dollars in financial remedies for over 68,000 applicant and employees. So far in the almost completed current Fiscal Year FY 2021 (OFCCP is 10 months into FY 2021which ends in less than two months), the Agency has resolved 94 audits with Conciliation Agreement settlements, including 30 settlements alleging unlawful employment discrimination valued at over 20 million dollars in financial remedies.
Southwest & Rocky Mountain Region (SWARM) (Dallas)
Melissa Speer also provided the following updates for the SWARM region for the last two years during the transition from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration. Ms. Speer began with her results from FY 2020 (almost a year ago…FY 2020 ended September 30, 2020 during the last full year of the Trump Administration).
- The Region closed 21 audits with allegations of unlawful employment discrimination.
- Six (29%) of the 21 audits included findings of compensation discrimination.
- Ten (48%) of the 21 audits were resolved by way of Early Resolution Conciliation Agreements (ERCAs) (see our story from December 2018).
- The closed audits resulted in back pay totaling $11,496,241 for over 39,000 class members, 65% of whom were Black, and over half were female.
For FY 2021 (the current Fiscal Year) in the 10 full months to date, the Region has closed seven discrimination audits leading to 2.5 million dollars in back pay, four of which alleged compensation discrimination. Ms. Speer drove home her concerns on pay equity and her Region’s shift from findings of primarily hiring discrimination to compensation discrimination despite the very small numbers involved.
Pacific Region (San Francisco)
Pacific Region Director Jane Suhr was not in attendance; however, Melissa Speer provided updates on her behalf. The Pacific Region also has employers using ERCAs to close cases quickly and early. FY 2020, combined with FY 2021 to date (i.e., 22-month reporting window), has resulted in:
- the resolution of 11 systemic discrimination audits with financial remedies of over 12 million dollars;
- four of the 11 audits alleged hiring discrimination; and
- seven of the 11 audits alleged compensation discrimination.
Southeast Region (Atlanta)
Aida Collins, newly promoted to her role (see our story from June 4th), spotlighted her Region’s trends. Her team decreased aged audits from 20% to 3% in the last five years and closed 49 audits alleging systemic discrimination. Of these 49 audits, 71% alleged hiring discrimination and 23% alleged compensation discrimination. The industries most frequently signing Conciliation Agreements in the Southeast Region have been food distribution and manufacturing due to the significant levels of entry-level hiring.
The Region currently has six university reviews underway and is sharing information across regions when applicable as to all audits.
Mid-Atlantic Region (Philadelphia)
Michele Hodge spoke on behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Region; however, she will be leaving the Region this month to join the National Office as the Career Deputy Director (see the announcement above in Director Yang’s speech). The Mid-Atlantic Region has five offices, currently with 49 employees, 31 of which are Compliance Officers. Ms. Hodge stated that although it is a small Region, they receive “a high level of complaints.” For FY 2021 to date, the Region has secured 3.8 million dollars in settlements. The Region expects to complete all of its Construction Compliance Checks this year.
Midwest Region (Chicago)
Carmen Navarro was not in attendance; however, Michele Hodge provided updates on her behalf. The Midwest Region, previously OFCCP’s largest Region, currently employs a robust 68 employees (~16% of OFCCP’s 420 on-roll employees). The Region has completed all of its Construction Compliance Checks and is wrapping up the remaining Section 503 and VEVRAA Compliance Reviews previously published in prior OFCCP CSALs.
Northeast Region (NY)
Diana Sen, currently detailed to serve an interim term as the Acting Deputy Director in the National Office (pending Michele Hodge’s arrival later this month), spoke on behalf of the Northeast Region. The Region is focused on aged audits and has scheduled most of the companies on the previous active CSALs. Echoing the others, compensation discrimination is and will continue to be an area of scrutiny. Ms. Sen also plugged and encouraged companies to enter into ERCAs with OFCCP.
The Directors shared several recommendations, including:
- be proactive, review data regularly;
- make sure everyone involved knows and understands the company’s affirmative action program’
- document the company’s hiring process;
- use accurate disposition codes;
- explain upfront any statistical disparities in selections;
- regularly assess the company’s outreach; and
- use the interactive process for accommodation requests.