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OFCCP: The most powerful agency you’ve never heard of

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Pro­­grams (OFCCP) monitors and enforces federal contractors’ compliance with the nation’s employment laws. Think of it as a parallel EEOC, but focused only on federal contractors. In many ways, it’s the most powerful government agency you’ve never heard of.

If you do business with Uncle Sam, you may come under OFCCP scrutiny. One recent case shows how far the OFCCP can reach. But recent legislation put the brakes on the agency’s authority.

•    Read the fine print: A federal contractor recently agreed to pay $219,000 to settle OFCCP discrimination allegations—more than five years after its compliance review was resolved.

In 2006, the contractor signed a conciliation agreement that required it to provide the OFCCP with periodic reports of its hiring activity. But, ironically, the reports provided evidence of discriminatory hiring practices, resulting in a large monetary settlement to rejected applicants, along with obligations to revamp the company’s hiring practices.

The moral of this story? Signing an OFCCP conciliation agreement may end a compliance review but it does not end a contractor’s obligation to carefully monitor its hiring practices—and the data provided to the OFCCP.

•    Some hospitals off the OFCCP hook: In December 2011, Section 715 of the National Defense Authorization Act was enacted. It exempts employers from OFCCP jurisdiction simply because they are network providers under TRICARE, the Pentagon’s health care program for military members.

This legislation took the wind out of the OFCCP’s attempts to assert jurisdiction over employers just because they provide services to TRICARE patients.

Learn more about OFCCP enforcement authority at www.dol.gov/ofccp.

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