The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently announced two financial settlements from federal contractors following routine affirmative action audits that revealed potential discrimination issues in their hiring processes. Interestingly, one company allegedly discriminated against women and the other company allegedly discriminated against men. Neither company admitted liability but each agreed to pay a significant amount of back wages and interest to affected applicants:
Fastenal Company agreed to pay $168,000 in back wages and interest to resolve allegations that it discriminated against 483 female applicants for Laborer and Helper positions at its facility in High Point, North Carolina. The company will also offer jobs to 24 of the applicants as positions come open (press release 07/30/2021 and conciliation agreement 07/13/2021).
Merit Services Inc., a manufacturer of disposable medical devices, agreed to pay $295,000 in back wages and interest to resolve allegations that it discriminated against 1,680 male applicants for Production Operator II positions at its facility in South Jordan, Utah. The company will also offer jobs to 46 of the applicants as positions come open (press release 08/23/2021 and conciliation agreement 07/29/2021).
Tips: As these two cases illustrate, both women and men are protected from sex discrimination in the workplace. Federal contractors are also prohibited from discriminating on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The same principle of non-discrimination applies to applicants and employees of all races and ethnicities—no workers are left out of these protections. Federal contractors have an obligation to annually evaluate whether their employment decisions have an adverse impact based on race/ethnicity or sex.
However, when analyzing the race/ethnicity and gender makeup of their existing workforce, the OFCCP directs federal contractors to look at statistics for “minorities” (non-white employees) and women. If the percentage is lower than it's reasonable to expect, federal contractors are required to set a goal (not a quota!) for the coming year, which usually involves stepping up outreach, recruiting, and training efforts to try to find qualified workers. If Vigilant prepares your written affirmative action plans, contact your Vigilant affirmative action representative or your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney with any questions.