Here are the top complaints reported to the OFCCP in 2021 – and how to prevent them.

Violating Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regulations is something that can be prevented by meeting the outlined obligations and with assistance from the OFCCP itself. However, complaints do arise, leading to investigations by the OFCCP. Here are some of the top complaints of 2021.   

Reports to the OFCCP may come from employees, former employees, or job seekers. 

Top Reasons for OFCCP Complaints 

Employment laws are complex and the OFCCP’s mission is to protect individuals from being discriminated against when federal contractors or federal subcontractors violate those regulations. When a complaint is brought to the OFCCP, it may also be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Investigations opened may stem from areas such as employer retaliation, discrimination against those with disabilities, sexual harassment, wage and compensation challenges, termination, and more. Here are the top five complaints from 2021:

Retaliation: Employer retaliation includes intimidation, threats, coercion, harassment, firing, and discrimination against any individual who files a complaint with the OFCCP or for disclosing salaries. When this happens, complainants are under “protected activity” according to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws and should not be retaliated against. Unfortunately, retaliation remains the top OFCCP complaint. Be sure to be cognizant of this scenario and avoid retaliation.

Disability: The OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which protects job seekers, employees, and former employees from discrimination based on disabilities. However, employment discrimination based on a person’s disability or perceived disability still does occur. This includes an employer treating a qualified job applicant or employee unfavorably in any aspect of employment based on their condition. Employers should not make discriminatory judgments on hiring, firing, pay, benefits, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, or other employment-related decisions based on an individual's disability. It is also important to take any accommodation request by an employee or jobseeker seriously. If an accommodation can easily be made for an employee or job seeker it should be done. 

Harassment: Harassment appears in a variety of forms, including offensive remarks about an individual, derogatory speech or actions directed at a specific individual or group of individuals, unwelcome communication, and physical behaviors. Along with the said violations, sexual harassment is prohibited as mentioned in Executive Order 11246. Other harassment issues may involve pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The OFCCP holds contractors to a high standard when it comes to harassment and expects them to adhere to the requirements necessary for preventing an unhealthy workplace.

Compensation and Wages: Equal pay has been a crucial issue and the OFCCP has made it a priority that contractors must follow compensation policies and practices and provide pay transparency provisions. This process ensures that individuals can freely inquire about, discuss, and disclose their compensation. It is prohibited to carry out discipline for exercising this right, with limited exceptions. The OFCCP is expected to be more focused on reviewing the compensation practices of contractors in 2022. Refer to the latest federal contract compliance manual for full details. The OFCCP continues to look at pay disparities, especially pay gaps between males and females.

Termination: If the OFCCP receives a complaint for unauthorized employee termination, they will examine terminations for adverse impact to certain groups. This could be related to race, gender, or other disparities. The OFCCP reviews whether groups or individuals affected fall into voluntary terminations, meaning the employees have left on their own for a new job, or if they were involuntarily terminated (fired). Involuntary terminations could mean they left the organization due to behavioral issues attributed to the employee’s behavior, job abandonment, restructuring leading to reductions in workforce, or job performance. Although violations from discriminatory terminations can be rare, the OFCCP does review these types of complaints when they are received.

Reduce the Risk of OFCCP Investigations 

The impacts of non-compliance vary, but they often cost an organization in fines, damaged reputation, and even loss of federal contracts, also resulting in loss of customer trust and job seeker and employee confidence. Being aware of these top complaints can help you and your organization avoid them in the first place, creating a better workplace for all. 

For more information about OFCCP compliance and the laws involved, visit our recent story, The Basics of OFCCP Compliance.  

Disclaimer: This is not intended to offer legal advice. Secure legal counsel when ensuring government compliance.

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