Following an affirmative action audit by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), federal contractor B&H Foto & Electronics Corp. has agreed to pay $3,220,000 in back pay and interest to affected workers. The OFCCP alleged that the company systematically discriminated against applicants and employees in its warehouse in Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York. When hiring for entry-level laborer jobs, the company exclusively hired Hispanic men, which the OFCCP said resulted in discrimination against qualified female, black, and Asian applicants. According to the OFCCP, the Hispanic new hires then remained stuck in lower-level positions. The agency alleged that Hispanic workers were paid less and had fewer promotion opportunities than comparable white workers, resulting in near-total exclusion of Hispanics from higher-level clerical, managerial, and supervisory jobs. The agency also found evidence that Hispanic employees were subjected to harassment and unequal restroom access. Without admitting liability, the company agreed to compensate over 1,300 affected workers, offer jobs to up to 23 of the unsuccessful applicants, and hire a workplace consultant to bring its employment practices into compliance.
Tips: As a federal contractor, if your entry-level jobs are dominated by one racial/ethnic group and/or one gender, that should be a red flag that’s worth looking into before the OFCCP shows up. What efforts have you made to expand your outreach? Your Vigilant affirmative action representative can help you explore ideas for improving and documenting the effectiveness of your outreach efforts. Once you have a wide cross section of applicants, the next question is why aren’t people of the non-favored race/ethnicity or gender making it through your hiring process? And then once new employees are on board, are there any barriers to advancement? Your Vigilant employment attorney can help you evaluate these questions.