On August 19, 2022, as discussed in previous alerts, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) notified its federal contractor base that the OFCCP received a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) for all Type 2 Consolidated Employer Information Reports, Standard Form 100 (EEO-1 Report), filed by federal contractors and first-tier subcontractors (contractors) from 2016 to 2020. Contractors had until October 19, 2022, to file their individualized objections to the production of their EEO-1 reports.
On August 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) revised Directive 2022-01 (DIR 2022-01) to clarify its earlier guidance addressing federal government contractors’ regulatory requirement to evaluate compensation as part of their affirmative action programming. Originally referred to as the “pay equity audit,” OFCCP Director Jenny Yang noted in her accompanying DOL blog post that the change in terminology from “pay equity audit” to “compensation analysis” was made to avoid any confusion regarding the nature of contractor obligations.
On July 28, 2022, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued important clarifications about the certification process through its Federal Contractor Portal (Portal). As previously reported, the Portal is new this year and required federal contractors and subcontractors (contractors) to certify the status of their annual affirmative action plan (AAP) for each establishment before June 30, 2022. In its bulletin update communicated to subscribers by email, the OFCCP stated that — although the portal remains currently open — it has not extended the June 30 deadline and that contractors that have not yet registered and certified their AAP compliance should do so as soon as possible. But it also explained that the agency will consider those contractors that requested assistance from the OFCCP on or before June 30, 2022 — but have not yet completed registration or certification because of a pending request for assistance — to have met the June 30 deadline.
In April 2022, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed Frontline Worker Payments into law to aid Minnesotans who worked in one of 15 frontline sectors identified in the legislation. The public purpose of the law is to “provide payments to frontline workers whose work put them at risk of contracting COVID-19 during the peacetime emergency declared by the governor in Executive Order 20-01.” After the bill was signed into law, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) was tasked with developing an application process and guidance for employers and employees to facilitate the frontline worker pay program. DOLI opened the application period for the program on June 8, 2022, announcing the period will remain open through July 22, 2022.
On April 4, 2022, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held, in Reuter v. City of Methuen, that employers are strictly liable for treble wages as liquidated damages if they fail to make timely payments upon an employee’s termination of employment in compliance with the Massachusetts Wage Act. With its holding, the Court rejected a longstanding trial court precedent that employers who failed to make timely wage payments were liable only for treble interest.
The Massachusetts Wage Act
Section 148 of the Massachusetts Wage Act requires employers to pay unpaid wages to any employee discharged from employment “in full on the day of [the employee’s] discharge.” Mass. Gen. L. C. 149 § 148. As an enforcement mechanism, the Act provides a private right of action for employees and mandates that employees who prevail on § 148 claims “shall be awarded treble damages, as liquidated damages, for any lost wages and other benefits and shall be awarded the costs of litigation and reasonable attorneys’ fees.” The Act specifically defines “wages” to include, among other things, “any holiday or vacation payments due an employee under an oral or written agreement.”
On March 31, 2022, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued its second directive of the Biden administration, Directive 2022-02, titled “Effective Compliance Evaluations and Enforcement.” The policies outlined in the new directive signal the end of the contractor friendly policies of the Trump era and a return to an enforcement heavy compliance regime.
Directive 2022-02 revokes several Trump era directives including Directive 2018-06, Contractor Recognition Program (Aug. 24, 2018); Directive 2018-08, Transparency in OFCCP Compliance Activities (Sept. 19, 2018); Directive 2020-02, Efficiency in Compliance Evaluations (Apr. 17, 2020); and Directive 2021-02, Certainty in OFCCP Policies and Practices (Dec. 11, 2020). These policies were initially developed as a part of the OFCCP’s CERT initiative towards certainty, efficiency, recognition and transparency in compliance.