(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has the authority to enforce civil rights laws against federal contractors. OFCCP describes itself as one of the “premier civil rights agencies in the federal government … on the front lines of … enforcing the laws that … ban discrimination in employment.”
But a lawsuit brought by Oracle America is challenging OFCCP’s legal authority. Oracle sued to invalidate OFCCP’s authority to bring enforcement actions after the agency alleged that the tech company owes $400 million to workers in back pay for race and sex discrimination.
If successful, this lawsuit would restrict OFCCP’s role as a key federal enforcement agency and undermine workers’ protections against hiring and pay discrimination. Restricting OFCCP’s authority to enforce antidiscrimination laws could have sweeping ramifications for the ability of workers at federal contractors to get meaningful remedies, such as back pay and reinstatement, for discriminatory practices.
“The Trump administration’s repeated attempts to undermine this agency’s ability to enforce core civil rights laws raise real concerns about who will protect the workers who drive America’s economy. We are proud to partner with two important unions committed to protecting America’s workers.”
-Anne Harkavy, Democracy Forward Executive Director
Given the Trump Administration’s history of weakening anti-discrimination protections and OFCCP’s ability to enforce them, there is substantial reason to believe that the Trump administration will not vigorously defend OFCCP’s enforcement authority. The Trump administration’s action to undermine OFCCP include:
- Seeking to eliminate OFCCP altogether by merging it into another federal agency
- Rescinding guidance that the Department of Labor had used to analyze whether federal contractor compensation practices comply with federal laws and regulations, including rules prohibiting pay discrimination — a rollback described as a tool to “constrain” the OFCCP
- In his first secretary’s order, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia giving himself the authority to override decisions of DOL’s Administrative Review Board, which previously provided the final agency decision on enforcement actions brought by OFCCP — including the one brought against Oracle
- Requiring greater political oversight of enforcement actions
Alongside the National Women’s Law Center and Massey & Gail, we are seeking to intervene to defend the agency’s enforcement authority on behalf of the Communication Workers of America and United Steelworkers. Our motion to intervene was filed on March 18, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
We requested details from the Department of Labor.
Our Freedom of Information Act request into the DoL sought records of the department and OFCP's communications with Oracle America.
March 5, 2020
We filed suit when the Department of Labor failed to release records.
The Trump administration failed to release records that could reveal whether Oracle had influence over senior officials at the Department of Labor and regarding 2018 changes to the Department of Labor’s guidelines for enforcing federal contractor compliance with anti-discrimination laws.Learn More