EEO. AAP. E-Verify. I-9. OFCCP. EEOC. NLRA. Audit. Back Pay. Disbarment.
If your business receives federal funds, these words, until now, probably have not caused you significant concern or apprehension. That is about to change...dramatically. Until now, the OFCCP and EEOC have had relatively low profiles and have been hamstrung by low funding levels for years. However, the new political reality in Washington has changed all of that. Beginning in Fall 2009, these agencies will be better funded, will work close together, and, in the case of the OFCCP, will have new marching orders that promise a much greater reach and impact in the private workplace.
The days when you when you could hire an EEO or AAP consultant with no legal training to produce computer statistics, modify a few words, generate a templated AAP and watch the OFCCP inquiry disappear are over. On July 7, 2009, the OFCCP announced that it would be aggressively auditing recipients of stimulus money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA"). Under ARRA, over the next several years, the federal government will invest $787 billion in an effort to create 3.5 million jobs (see recovery.gov). Much of this money will trickle down to a wide range of private businesses in the form of contracts for goods, services and construction. This will result in a record number of businesses coming under the juridiction of the OFCCP, many of whom have never before had any dealings with the agency. Supporting the OFCCP's broader agenda is an expected 25% budget increase and installment of a new, aggressive top management team. This is all on top of the OFCCP's record breaking back pay collection for FY 2008, recovered under the Agency's prior, more limited reach.
OFCCP's new mandate has been reinforced by a Notice sent to all federal agencies by the Department of Justice. In this Notice, the Department of Justice announced that all federal agencies distributing ARRA stimulus monies are obligated to ensure that recipients and subrecipients comply with all laws and executive orders enforcing nondiscrimination and EEO. (see DOJ Notice).
As part of its new ARRA powers, the OFCCP announced that it would be auditing more government contractors on a more frequent and repetitive basis, with full audits and onsite reviews as the norm even in the absence of any workplace discrimination indicators (see OFCCP Directive).This is in addition to the Agency's normal audits for non-ARRA federal contractors. Going forward, you can expect greater cooperation and information sharing between the OFFCP, EEOC, NLRA and Homeland Security immigration officials with regards to discrimination matters, EEO-1 reports, labor union notices and I-9/E-VERIFY audits. You can further expect industries that have so far managed to largely avoid OFCCP's reach (e.g. healthcare industry) to now be aggressively targeted by the agency. You can expect more agency findings of non-compliance and unlawful discrimination, back pay collections, disbarment proceedings, and referral of matters to sister agencies (e.g., EEOC. NLRA, social security & Homeland Security immigration officials) than ever before.
The bottom line for your business is that, unlike before, the OFCCP's new powers will flush serious legal issues out of the shadows and into the front and center of the EEO/AAP audit process (click on our Services page for more details). Given the size of the stimulus package and the difficult economic climate, avoiding this process by avoiding government contracts may no longer be practical. Relying on non-lawyer "consultants" and keeping your fingers crossed when a government audit hits can be a risky, and expensive, move in this new day of government contracting. As a former OFCCP compliance officer, EEOC investigator, and now 16 year employment law attorney, Dale Rodriguez stands ready to provide your business professional EEO/AAP consultation, implementation and representation services to help safeguard your valuable federal contracts on a cost feasible basis.
Please take a moment to review our website and learn more about this aggressive new expansion of the government's reach over federal contractors and how we can help you navigate these treacherous, uncharted waters.
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A note about this website. The central focus of my law practice is the employment relationship. My practice focuses on several distinct aspects of the employment relationship. Rather than describing all of my services in distinct practice areas in a single lengthy and cluttered website, I have created three smaller, more focused websites devoted to each of the three areas in which I practice (of which this is one such website). To access my other related websites and learn more about my practice, please click on the following link to my main website: www.dmrlawoffice.com
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