The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, oversees enforcement of subsequent legislation that extends anti-discrimination hiring and compensation practices to include gender, age, race, nationality, disability, color, genetics and religion. The EEOC also monitors compliance by the nation’s largest employer: the Federal government. One aspect of federal compliance relates to contractors hired by federal agencies. The EEOC defers to its partner agency, the Office of Federal Compliance Coordination, or OFCC, to certify that federal contractors follow Equal Employment Opportunity provisions.
Federal Compliance Coordination
According to USA Spending.gov, the U.S. government issued nearly $538 billion in prime contracts to 304,041 entities in 2010. The OFCC makes sure these awardees and their subcontractors meet all affirmative action and nondiscriminatory employment requirements outlined in Executive Order 11246. Awardees must develop an Affirmative Action plan and audit themselves annually to certify they do not factor ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, disabilities or race in any employment decision. These documents must be on file for OFCC “compliance evaluations.” The Center for Corporate Equality notes that OFCC performed approximately 16,000 compliance evaluation audits between 2005 and 2008. Violations uncovered cost involved contractors nearly $216 million in back-pay and related employee costs, according to CCE executive David Cohen.
In addition to conducting a detailed analysis of human resource procedures, compensation policies, employee communication and demographic composition of employees, federal contractors with a contract of at least $10,000 must prepare a written policy for Affirmative Action regulatory compliance. According to Executive Order 11246, the written policy must state that senior officers support EEO, no discrimination takes place from employee recruitment through promotion, and employees or applicants filing complaints or notifying authorities of suspected violations will not suffer any consequences. The provisions for auditing, reviewing and reporting policy execution must also be detailed. The OFCC “good faith effort” serves as certification until confirmed by an OFCC evaluation.
Service & Supplier Contractors
The OFCC distinguishes between construction and non-construction contractors. Non-construction awardees with a contract worth at least $50,000 and at least 50 employees must also maintain a written Affirmative Action policy as well as conduct annual self-audits. Subcontractors have an equal obligation to certify their EEO and Affirmative Action compliance.
The OFCC sets goals and objectives for construction contractors regarding female and minority employment in lieu of requiring them to develop written Affirmative Action plans. According to the “Technical Assistance Guide for Federal Construction Contractors” published by the OFCC, awardees have a 6 percent “participation goal” for female employees and a percentage participation goal for minorities that varies by state and county. Construction contractors will need to present documentation to support their “good faith effort” in meeting these goals and to verify its human resources practices respect EEOC regulations to an OFCC officer during a compliance evaluation.
To ensure compliance and avoid contract-related consequences of violations, prime contractors may opt to obtain certification from their subcontractors. One example, Raytheon Polar Services Company, requires its subcontractors to certify their support of EEO and Affirmative Action.
The federal government does not hold a monopoly on government contracts. States and cities have a vested interest in ensuring their contracts go to EEO-compliant firms. The State of Ohio, for instance, requires a certificate of EEO compliance and “female utilization goals.” City code prohibits the city of Portland, Oregon, from using any contractor or subcontractor without EEO certification for projects above $2,500.