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May 16, 2017

OFCCP announces significant financial settlements

Affirmative Action 

Wrapping up some high-profile cases following affirmative action audits, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently announced three significant settlements, two of which were in the OFCCP’s Pacific Region:

  • Palantir Technologies, Inc. agreed to pay $1,659,434 to resolve allegations that the company’s hiring process, which included an employee referral program, discriminated against Asian applicants in three engineering positions. The company, which is located in Palo Alto, California, also agreed to offer jobs to 8 of the affected applicants (OFCCP press release 4/25/17 and consent decree signed 4/20/17).
  • Qualcomm, located in San Diego, California, agreed to pay $19.5 million to resolve both a class action lawsuit and an OFCCP affirmative action audit. The company is awaiting a judge’s approval of the proposed lawsuit settlement, but went ahead and mirrored the terms in its agreement with the OFCCP. Employees and the OFCCP alleged that the company paid women less than men in engineering-related jobs. In addition to the financial settlement, the company promised to take additional actions, including appointing independent consultants to structure its job interviews and work policies; setting up an anonymous 24-hour complaint line; and creating a complaint database (conciliation agreement signed 3/6/17).
  • After a 24-year tug-of-war with the OFCCP, Bank of America agreed to pay $1 million in back wages and interest to be shared by 1,027 African American applicants for entry-level clerical, teller, and administrative positions. The OFCCP began auditing its location in Charlotte, North Carolina, in November 1993, and concluded that the company’s hiring process was discriminatory. At the time, the facility was owned by NationsBank; the two companies merged in 1998. The dispute wound its way through federal court and Department of Labor administrative rulings, and finally the parties decided it was time to call a truce (OFCCP press release 4/17/17 and settlement signed 3/29/17).

Tips: If your organization has at least 50 employees and you, your customers, or your suppliers do business with the federal government, you may be a federal contractor with affirmative action obligations. Federal contractors are encouraged to register now to attend our complimentary webinar, “Affirmative Action Compliance in Uncertain Times,” May 23, 2017 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

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