RSS Feed!

Archives

Archive for March, 2019

OFCCP: Annual VEVRAA Hiring Benchmark is 5.9% (Apr. 2019)

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

Today the 2019 Annual Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) hiring benchmark was updated on the VEVRAA Benchmark Database. Effective on March 31, 2019, the new benchmark is 5.9 percent.

Looking for prior national percentages? View a chart of the annual national percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force from prior years on the Annual VEVRAA Benchmark Effective Dates page.

National and state information has also been updated in the VEVRAA Benchmark Database for federal contractors and subcontractors who calculate an individualized hiring benchmark using the five-factor method.

Next fiscal year, OFCCP plans to incorporate VEVRAA Focused Reviews into the Corporate Scheduling Announcement List.

Need more information on VEVRAA requirements? Visit our VEVRAA information page, or contact the OFCCP Help Desk at 1-800-397-6251 (TTY: 1-877-889-5627) or online.

FAIR HOUSING NEWS (APR. 2019)

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

Dear Colleague,

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging Facebook with violating the Fair Housing Act by encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination through the company’s advertising platform. Read HUD’s Charge against Facebook.

Today’s action follows HUD’s investigation of a Secretary-initiated complaint filed on August 13, 2018. HUD alleges that Facebook unlawfully discriminates based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, and disability by restricting who can view housing-related ads on Facebook’s platforms and across the internet. Further, HUD claims Facebook mines extensive data about its users and then uses those data to determine which of its users view housing-related ads based, in part, on these protected characteristics.

“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”

HUD General Counsel Paul Compton added, “Even as we confront new technologies, the fair housing laws enacted over half a century ago remain clear—discrimination in housing-related advertising is against the law. Just because a process to deliver advertising is opaque and complex doesn’t mean that it exempts Facebook and others from our scrutiny and the law of the land. Fashioning appropriate remedies and the rules of the road for today’s technology as it impacts housing are a priority for HUD.”

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing and in housing-related services, including online advertisements, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.

According to HUD’s Charge, Facebook enabled advertisers to exclude people whom Facebook classified as parents; non-American-born; non-Christian; interested in accessibility; interested in Hispanic culture; or a wide variety of other interests that closely align with the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes. HUD is also charging that Facebook enabled advertisers to exclude people based upon their neighborhood by drawing a red line around those neighborhoods on a map. Facebook also allegedly gave advertisers the option of showing ads only to men or only to women.

The Charge further asserts that Facebook also uses the protected characteristics of people to determine who will view ads regardless of whether an advertiser wants to reach a broad or narrow audience. HUD claims Facebook combines data it collects about user attributes and behavior with data it obtains about user behavior on other websites and in the non-digital world. Facebook then allegedly uses machine learning and other prediction techniques to classify and group users to project each user’s likely response to a given ad, and in doing so, may recreate groupings defined by their protected class. The Charge concludes that by grouping users who have similar attributes and behaviors (unrelated to housing) and presuming a shared interest or disinterest in housing-related advertisements, Facebook’s mechanisms function just like an advertiser who intentionally targets or excludes users based on their protected class.

Through its Charge, HUD seeks to address unresolved fair housing issues regarding Facebook’s advertising practices and to obtain appropriate relief for the harm Facebook caused and continues to cause.

In August 2018, the Department of Justice, joined by HUD, filed a statement of interest in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on behalf of a number of private litigants challenging Facebook’s advertising platform. Read SDNY’s statement of interest.

HUD’s Charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the Charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages for harm caused by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.

Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).

OFCCP: Women’s History Month (Apr. 2019)

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

March is Women’s History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the significant contributions women make both in and out of the workplace.

Women account for 47% of the American workforce, with 57% of all American women currently participating in the labor force. It goes without saying that today’s economy depends heavily on the efforts and achievements made by women across the country.

Every day women are working to move America forward, and OFCCP is committed to supporting them along the way. At OFCCP, we’re passionate about ensuring that women are treated with equity and respect in the hiring process and in the workplace.

Since 2017, OFCCP has obtained over $22,930,000 in monetary relief for women who experienced unlawful gender discrimination in the workplace.

In 2016, OFCCP revamped our Sex Discrimination Final Rule to ensure that our compliance guidelines reflect existing law and the realities of today’s workforce and workplaces. That involved updating the sex discrimination guidelines, promoting fair pay practices, equalizing access to workforce development opportunities and much more.

You can click here to learn more about the rights OFCCP protects, and the work we do to support women in the workplace.

Be sure to keep an eye on your inbox for future updates from OFCCP on what we’re doing to champion working women across the U.S.

OFCCP posts Corporate Scheduling Announcement List on Website (Mar. 2019)

Monday, March 25th, 2019

Today, OFCCP released its next Corporate Scheduling Announcement List (CSAL) in the OFCCP FOIA Library. This is the first time OFCCP has posted the CSAL only in the FOIA Library without mailing advanced contractor notifications to individual establishments.

OFCCP also posted its updated scheduling methodology and Frequently Asked Questions on CSAL and Corporate Management Compliance Evaluations. All of these compliance resources, in addition to a page dedicated to Section 503 Focused Reviews, are available here.

For the first time, the CSAL includes Section 503 Focused Reviews as outlined in our Focused Review Directive (DIR 2018-04) and compliance checks as outlined in our Affirmative Action Program Verification Initiative Directive (DIR 2018-07). Compliance reviews are still included on the list.

We strongly encourage contractors to subscribe to OFCCP Email Updates to receive timely notification of the CSAL and other compliance assistance resources.

LEADERS REPRESENTING INDUSTRIES AND ASSOCIATIONS JOIN EEOC FOR ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON HARASSMENT PREVENTION (Mar. 20, 2019)

Monday, March 25th, 2019

WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) convened an “Industry Leaders Roundtable Discussion on Harassment Prevention.” The Roundtable continues the EEOC’s efforts to lead harassment prevention efforts, including two Commission meetings and a Reconvening of the Select Task Force in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The roundtable will inform strategies for the next generation of issues flowing from the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace in 2015, the task force Co-Chairs’ 2016 Report, and the #MeToo movement.

“The EEOC gathered these leaders to better understand the needs of the workers and employers in their industries and the wide range of solutions to prevent workplace harassment,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “The EEOC stands ready to help in the effort to change workplace cultures to be more respectful and inclusive,” added Lipnic.

EEOC Commissioner Charlotte A. Burrows stated, “Today’s roundtable discussion is an important step in furthering the Commission’s goal of ending workplace harassment and implementing strategies to build on the work of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. I am pleased to have the thoughtful input from so many different industries, and I will continue to work to ensure the Commission remains a valuable resource in this area.”

Representatives from a diverse group of industries and associations discussed challenges their members and the public face in addressing issues raised by the #MeToo movement. Participants also shared strategies they have implemented to improve workplace culture and reduce harassment.

Rosanna Maietta, Executive Vice President of Communications & Public Relations of the American Hotel & Lodging Association and President of the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation, described the 5-Star Promise, a pledge to provide hotel employees with employee safety devices and to adopt enhanced policies, trainings and resources to improve hotel safety, including preventing and responding to sexual harassment and assault.

Andy Brantley, President and CEO of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, shared that “we cannot simply ‘train away’ harassment. Training and heightening awareness will always be important, but we must be committed to creating and sustaining workplace cultures that do not tolerate harassment in any way, shape or form.”

Stephanie Martz, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the National Retail Federation, explained that “retailers recognize that training and a company culture of respect and inclusion are critical to effective prevention and compliance efforts.” She noted one challenge her organization and its members have identified is the importance of tailoring training to address the unique realities of the retail workplace.

Bobby Franklin, President and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association, emphasized that “harassment is interconnected with the lack of diversity and inclusiveness in our industry.” As a result, his organization surveys members to understand the scope of the harassment problem in their industry, and it has taken multiple steps to improve education by drafting model policies and a best practices guide.

James Banks, Jr., General Counsel of the Society for Human Resources Management, stated that his organization is providing human resource professionals with programming on workplace civility, inclusion, workplace investigations that can improve culture, and anti-harassment strategies. Mr. Banks explained that “the #MeToo movement has been a call to action for organizational leaders to assess their workplaces to ensure they have a healthy culture and live that culture in all they do.”

The following industry and association representatives participated in the Roundtable:

Bob Carlson, President, American Bar Association
Rosanna Maietta, Executive Vice President of Communications & Public Relations of the American Hotel & Lodging Association and President, American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation
Stephen Dwyer, General Counsel, American Staffing Association
Andy Brantley, President and CEO, College & University Professional Association for Human Resources
Suzanne Beall, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy, International Franchise Association
James Rizzo, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary, National Association of Home Builders
William Dombi, President, National Association for Home Care & Hospice
Linda Kelly, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Board Secretary, National Association of Manufacturers
Stephanie Martz, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Retail Federation
Bobby Franklin, President and CEO, National Venture Capital Association
James Banks, Jr., General Counsel, Society for Human Resource Management
Arianne Massey, Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration, Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America

The written statements that were submitted are available at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/3-20-19/.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on President Trump’s Higher Education Executive Order (Mar. 2019)

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement today on President Trump’s Executive Order on “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities”:

“All students should have access to relevant, accurate, and transparent data when making decisions about their education. President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on ‘Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities’ once again demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to supporting and empowering students with meaningful resources as they pursue their life-long learning journeys and future careers.

“Per the Executive Order, the Department will continue its efforts to update the College Scorecard so that it includes clear information on the cost of college, expected earnings after graduation, and student loan repayment rates. We will also continue our Federal Student Aid modernization efforts that began with the launch of our first ever mobile app. Right now, students can use the app to complete the FAFSA. And, building on the President’s directive, the app’s capabilities will expand to give students access to information about loan balances, payments, and repayment options right at their fingertips. We believe that these important reforms, along with the Department’s ambitious negotiated rulemaking agenda, will make college more affordable, break down barriers to innovation in higher education, and encourage new approaches and new partnerships for the benefit of students.

“As students pursue their education, they should never face limits on what, when, where, or how they learn. They should be empowered to pursue truth through the free exchange of all ideas, especially ideas with which they may not agree. Free inquiry is an essential feature of our democracy, and I applaud the President’s continued support for America’s students.”

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REACHES AGREEMENT IN LAWSUIT AGAINST HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS TO ENSURE POLLING PLACE ACCESSIBILITY FOR VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES (MAR. 2019)

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

The Justice Department reached an agreement with Harris County, Texas, to resolve its lawsuit alleging that Harris County violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide an accessible voting program to voters with disabilities, including accessible polling places. Harris County’s voting program—the third largest in the country—includes over 750 polling places. The Justice Department’s complaint alleges that many polling places in Harris County have architectural barriers—such as steep ramps, gaps in sidewalks and walkways, and locked gates along the route barring pedestrian access—that make them inaccessible to voters with mobility impairments or voters who are blind or visually impaired. Under the agreement, Harris County will create and implement policies, practices, and procedures to bring its voting program into compliance with the ADA, including creating an effective system for selecting accessible facilities for polling places, surveying polling place facilities for accessibility barriers, procuring and implementing temporary accessibility remedies during elections, providing effective curbside voting, and hiring Subject Matter Experts to provide technical assistance and training to the County as well as provide reports to the parties on the County’s compliance with the agreement.

If you are interested in finding out more about the ADA or this agreement you can visit the ADA website or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD).

OFCCP: Announcing New York Town Halls on April 9 and 10, 2019

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Town Halls: OFCCP Wants to Help

Ensuring federal contractors have the free tools and resources needed to comply with their equal opportunity obligations is critically important. In order to continue to enhance the scope and quality of OFCCP’s compliance assistance materials we have been holding town hall events to enhance our understanding of what is important to our stakeholders.

Most recently we held two successful town halls for the tech industry and gained valuable feedback and ideas from the participants. OFCCP is looking to build on the success of the town halls that were primarily focused on the tech industry with two more town halls in New York. The first New York town hall will be focused on the financial industry and related fields and the second New York town hall will be focused on the legal industry and related fields.

The town halls will be held in New York, New York. The financial industry town hall will be held on April 9, 2019 and the legal industry town hall will be held on April 10, 2019.

You can attend a town hall by registering through OFCCP’s website.

The meetings are open to the public but will be of particular interest to human resource managers, equal employment opportunity specialists, chief compliance officers, and other personnel in the legal and financial industries who are directly involved with ensuring their company’s compliance with OFCCP’s requirements. Workers, jobseekers, community groups and anyone interested in OFCCP and our work are also encouraged to attend. Please note only two tickets are available per organization on a first come, first served basis.

STANLEY BLACK & DECKER WILL PAY $140,000 TO SETTLE EEOC DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION SUIT (MAR. 2019)

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Tool Manufacturer Fired Employee Who Needed Leave for Medical Treatment, Federal Agency Charged

BALTIMORE – Stanley Black & Decker Inc., a global diversified industrial company, will pay $140,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Stanley Black & Decker fired an inside sales representative, who had exceeded her sales goals and quotas, at its Towson, Md., facility in December 2016 for poor attend­ance. The EEOC charged that the termination violated federal law because the employee had requested unpaid leave for medical appointments and treatment related to her cancer, but the company failed to provide the requested leave as a reasonable accommodation of her disability. Moreover, the company’s inside sales attendance policy did not provide exceptions for people who need leave as an accommodation to their disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits workplace discrimination based on disability. The ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities, unless it would pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-02525) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $140,000 in monetary relief to the employee, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit provides substantial equitable relief, including enjoining Stanley Black & Decker from denying reasonable accommodations or violating the ADA in the future. The company will update its inside sales attendance policy to provide for reasonable accommodations. Stanley Black & Decker will provide annual training at its Towson facility to inside sales managers, supervisors and human resources personnel on the ADA and its reasonable accommodation requirements. The company will report to the EEOC on how it handled any requests for reasonable accommodations and internal complaints of dis­crimination within its inside sales group. Stanley Black & Decker will post a notice about the settlement and post notices required by EEOC regulations. It will also provide a positive reference for the employee.

“We encourage employers to review their policies and procedures, including attendance policies, to ensure they provide for reasonable accommodations and equal employment opportunities for individ­uals with disabilities,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “In addition to the monetary relief, the settlement provides important equitable relief to protect workers from disability discrimination. We commend Stanley Black & Decker for resolving this matter amicably and before incurring unnecessary litigation expenses.”

Addressing emerging and developing areas of law, including inflexible leave policies that dis­criminate against individuals with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

OFCCP Launches Section 503 Landing Page (Mar. 2019)

Friday, March 8th, 2019

OFCCP is dedicated to promoting inclusive and equitable workplaces. We recognize that this is a team effort, which is why we’re committed to strengthening the partnership between OFCCP and the federal contractors we assist.

That is why we are thrilled to announce the launch of our new Section 503 Focused Review Landing Page. The landing page is intended to provide contractors with helpful information and assistance in implementing best practices and increasing the employment of individuals with disabilities.

So what does this mean for you? OFCCP’s new Section 503 landing page will serve as a resource center for contractors. You can find disability inclusion best practices, documents explaining what to expect during a Focused Review, and important OFCCP contact information.

You can learn more about Focused Reviews by reviewing Directive 2018-04, which established focused reviews under Executive Order 11246, Section 503 and VEVRAA.

Click Here to Visit OFCCP’s Section 503 Landing Page!