U.S. Department of Labor Advances Regulatory Agenda with Final Rule Barring Federal Contractors from Discriminating against LGBT Workers

On December 3, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its final rule barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The final rule implements an Executive Order signed by President Obama in July 2014 amending Executive Order 11,246 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases of employment discrimination by federal contractors and subcontractors.

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Take Your Pick: E.D.N.Y. Decision Offers Guidance for Plaintiffs and Defendants Alike on How to Handle “Picking Off” Attempts in FLSA Collective Actions

“Sometimes surrender is the best option.” That is how Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the Eastern District of New York begins his opinion in Anjum v. J.C. Penney Co., Inc., before denying J.C. Penney’s motion to dismiss a putative Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective action based on the company’s offer to pay the claims of four named plaintiffs with offers of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68—a strategy often referred to as “picking off.” Even though the court rejected J.C. Penney’s picking off attempt in this case, the judge’s opinion in Anjum recognizes the validity of this tactic and provides some practical lessons for defense counsel looking to successfully pick off an FLSA collective in the Second Circuit.

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An Attorney is an Attorney is an Attorney? Not So Fast Says Second Circuit, Shutting Down EEOC Equal Pay Act Claim

The EEOC suffered another fatal blow to its systemic discrimination initiative on Monday when the Second Circuit held that the Commission’s Equal Pay Act (EPA) complaint against the New York Port Authority was too barebones to survive.

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At Long Last, OFCCP Announces OMB Approval of a New Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing

More than three years after the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) first announced its intent to issue a new Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing, the Agency finally has obtained approval to do so from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  The OFCCP’s Scheduling Letter provides a contractor with notice of its selection for a compliance evaluation (audit), and the Itemized Listing constitutes OFCCP’s standard initial request for submission of the contractor’s Affirmative Action Plan and supporting personnel activity and compensation data.  OFCCP announced the OMB approval in a September 30, 2014 Notice, and published the final versions of the Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing on October 1, 2014.

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Employers Should Act Now to Avoid Potential Data Minefields: The OFCCP’s New Proposed Rules for Collecting Compensation Data from Federal Contractors

On August 8, 2014, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (“OFCCP”) proposed new annual reporting requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors.  The proposal requires additional pay information and will become effective in early 2015, unless the OFCCP decides to amend them.

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Mind the Gap: Obama Takes New Executive Action on Pay Equity in the Workplace

Last week President Obama continued his administration’s push to tackle pay equity issues by taking executive action to put federal contractors’ compensation practices under greater scrutiny. On April 8, 2014, the President signed a memorandum and executive order designed to address race and gender-based disparities in compensation. The memorandum directs the Department of Labor (“DOL”) to propose a rule within 120 days requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to submit “summary data” on employee compensation by race and sex to the DOL using a “tool” to be developed by the agency. The executive order signed along with the memorandum bans federal contractors from retaliating against employees for discussing their compensation with each another in an effort to “enhance the ability of Federal contractors and their employees to detect and remediate unlawful discriminatory practices” in pay. Read More

OFCCP Rescinds Prior Guidance on Compensation Discrimination Analysis In Favor of a Case-by-Case Approach

Effective February 28, 2013, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) rescinded two 2006 guidance documents concerning how the OFCCP and federal contractors analyze potential pay discrimination. This change came as a response to President Obama’s Equal Pay Task Force, which brought together the federal agencies charged with addressing pay discrimination.

The OFCCP, which is charged with ensuring federal contractors and subcontractors provide equal employment opportunity, concluded that the previous guidance was too rigid and undermining the agency’s efforts to combat discrimination. Several aspects of the now-rescinded guidance fell into disfavor with the OFCCP in its efforts to carry out President Obama’s mandate to step up investigation of systemic compensation discrimination. First, it was required to compare “similarly situated workers,” defined narrowly to include only employees with the same position. Second, it was required to use multiple regression analysis to test for pay disparities, failing to address situations where analysis of a smaller sample size might be more appropriate. Finally, it required anecdotal evidence to establish a systemic compensation violation in addition to statistical evidence. Reasoning that “employment discrimination comes in many forms,” OFCCP found that this specific method of analyzing compensation would not allow OFCCP to detect all forms of pay discrimination. Read More

Equal Pay Is Down but Not Out

Last week, Senate Democrats found themselves seven votes short in their most recent effort to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (“PFA”)—an effort which began in 2005, when Hillary Clinton first introduced the bill. But the Democrats’ continuing effort to paint the issue of equal pay as one of employer bias likely is not over. Read More