The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently posted another significant financial settlement with a federal contractor, arising out of a routine affirmative action audit. Without admitting liability, Becton, Dickinson and Company agreed to pay $499,349 in back pay and interest to resolve allegations that it discriminated against 125 female applicants at three locations in Nebraska. The applicants were rejected for the positions of needle assembly, operator technician, setup operator, and forming operator positions. The company also agreed to change its hiring practices and train managers and supervisors with authority over the hiring process (press release 6/23/2022 and conciliation agreement 6/22/2022).
Interestingly, this year the OFCCP has also posted financial settlements that resolved individual complaints of discrimination. These federal contractors all signed conciliation agreements but didn’t admit liability:
HP Hood, LLC in Winchester, Virginia, agreed to pay $6,887 to resolve allegations that it discriminated against a protected veteran when it didn’t select her for a promotion because she lacked sufficient civilian experience (conciliation agreement 5/9/2022).
TekMasters in Chantilly, Virginia, agreed to pay $17,500 to resolve a complaint from an applicant that the company “used inappropriate language in electronic mail which appeared to reference ethnicity.” (No further information is available about the nature of the email.) The person who complained and all employees who self-identify as Hispanic will be eligible to share in the settlement and to receive software training. In addition, the company will review the skills and experience of the applicant against all available open positions over a six-month period and will sponsor the applicant for any security clearances that may be required by the Department of Defense for the applicant to qualify for a position (conciliation agreement 4/13/2022).
Colonna's Shipyard, Inc. in Norfolk, Virginia, agreed to pay $6,250 to resolve allocations that it terminated an employee for disclosing and discussing coworkers’ pay, in violation of the affirmative action regulations at 41 CFR 60-1.4(a)(3). The company will give a neutral job reference and will change its personnel files to indicate that the employee voluntarily quit. It will also update and communicate its policies to allow employees to discuss their compensation (conciliation agreement 3/10/2022)
Tips: If you’re a federal contractor undergoing an affirmative action audit (compliance review), the receipt of a separate discrimination complaint can make the process of responding to and resolving the audit even more difficult. We don’t know the details of what triggered the complaints above, but the termination for discussing pay was clearly avoidable. Federal contractors are required to post and include in their employee handbooks a “pay transparency nondiscrimination provision” notifying workers of their right to discuss their compensation. You may use the OFCCP’s sample pay transparency notice or develop your own notice, as long as it includes the same title, paragraph, and regulatory citation. (You don’t have to include the OFCCP’s contact information to file a discrimination complaint.) Vigilant prepares annual affirmative action plans for a reasonable annual fee. If you have questions about your compliance obligations as a federal contractor, contact your Vigilant affirmative action representative.