On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, the Ninth Circuit heard oral argument in Freyd v. University of Oregon. Jennifer Freyd, a professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon, filed a class action lawsuit in March 2017 alleging gender-based pay differences in violation of the Equal Pay Act, Title VII, and other statutes. Freyd asserted that the University paid her less than four male colleagues in her department and that the University’s retention award policy had a disproportionate impact on the University’s female psychology professors. In May 2019, the District Court granted Defendants’ motions for summary judgment, and Freyd subsequently appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. READ MORE
Chris Wilkinson maintains a broad practice in labor and employment, Equal Pay, health and safety, government relations and administrative law.
Chris most recently served as Associate Solicitor for Civil Rights and Labor-Management. In that role, Chris was the senior career civil rights and labor management lawyer for the Department of Labor providing advice on regulatory, policy and enforcement matters for seven DOL agencies including the Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Civil Rights Center and Office of Labor Management Standards.
Chris counseled the Department on a broad array of equal employment opportunity regulatory and policy initiatives and advised on a wide range of constitutional and statutory matters in federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States. In addition to EEO matters, Chris led the Solicitor Office’s union election and reporting enforcement work, counseled on transit labor certification matters and advised on appellate matters related to labor union practices.
Chris also has significant litigation experience having served as trial attorney and then Counsel for Civil Rights Programs in the Department’s San Francisco region. In those roles, he litigated a number of complex class wage-and-hour, class discrimination, health and safety citations, and Sarbanes-Oxley and other whistleblower matters.
Chris is an active member of the America Bar Association, having presented on numerous federal contractor compliance, LGBT and compensation discrimination topics at the ABA Conference on Equal Employment Law.
Posts by: Christopher Wilkinson
The past month has brought notable pay equity developments to the Mid-Atlantic, including pending legislation in Maryland, and a Third Circuit decision that might have far-reaching effects beyond the Philadelphia salary history ban that it upheld. READ MORE
In recent weeks, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) has entered into four major settlements that are notable both for their size, and for highlighting current trends. Each case involved allegations of race and gender-based compensation discrimination, with settlements in the millions: Dell settled for $7 million to resolve the allegations, Goldman Sachs settled for just shy of $10 million, Intel Corporation settled for $5 million, and Bank of America settled for $4.2 million. These amounts represent some of the largest settlements ever reached by OFCCP. READ MORE
The Fourth Circuit recently issued a decision discussing whether a university professor established pay-related claims under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. This case has important implications for professional occupations where complainants seek to compare themselves to their colleagues for purposes of alleging pay discrimination.
Zoe Spencer, a sociology professor at Virginia State University (“VSU”), sued her employer for allegedly paying her less than two male professors because she is a woman. The district court granted summary judgment, and plaintiff appealed to the Fourth Circuit. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision because (1) plaintiff failed to present evidence that creates a genuine issue of material fact that the two male professors are appropriate comparators; and (2) in any event, unrebutted evidence shows that the VSU based the two male professors’ higher pay on their prior service as VSU administrators, not their sex.
While many states across the U.S. continue to develop new equal pay laws, it is also important for global companies to be aware of equal pay laws abroad. Countries far and wide including the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Iceland and South Africa have instituted various forms of laws addressing pay equity issue. While these laws have varying requirements, we look at Australia as an example of the global picture. READ MORE
In the wake of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Rizo v. Yovino, key employer-side groups have expressed support for U.S. Supreme Court review to determine whether employers who rely on prior salary to set starting pay can continue to do so consistent with the federal Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1) (“EPA”). READ MORE
For the second month in a row, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued guidance to update materials available to federal contractors and subcontractors. On September 19, 2018, the OFCCP issued two broad directives aimed at improving transparency and communications and to implement the highly-anticipated ombud service. These directives respond to contractor complaints related to the length and process for OFCCP audits. READ MORE
A growing number of state and local governments have passed equal pay laws in recent years. These statutes and ordinances have varied in their specific content and have created a patchwork of legal requirements vexing employers who are attempting to comply. Two states have added wrinkles to this patchwork. While many of the obligations have favored employees, Massachusetts and Oregon have attempted to tip the scales to employers by creating “safe harbor” provisions aimed at providing some form of relief for employers who perform voluntary pay audits and correct any adverse findings through “safe harbor” provisions. These provisions, however, raise significant questions that employers must consider before concluding that they are fully protected. READ MORE
In a highly anticipated move, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued its new compensation directive on August 24, 2018. Directive (DIR) 2018-05, Analysis of Contractor Compensation Practices During a Compliance Evaluation, replaces the Obama-era compensation guidance DIR 2013-03, Procedures for Reviewing Contractor Compensation Systems and Practices (referred to as Directive 307). OFCCP also included a list of 22 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with DIR 2018-05. READ MORE
OFCCP recently lost Trump-appointed Director Ondray Harris due to his resignation. Deputy Director Craig Leen takes Harris’s place in the interim. Harris’s departure raises some important questions that covered federal contractors may be asking.
What was Harris able to accomplish during his short tenure? During Harris’s time at the Agency, there were few policy developments. The Agency extended the moratorium on audits for many health care providers who offer medical coverage under the military’s TRICARE program. In addition, the Agency made good on its promise to provide contractors with additional transparency by (1) publishing its scheduling methodology; and (2) releasing a guidance document titled “What Contractors Can Expect” that stresses good behavior by the Agency and its staff. READ MORE