- Employers doing business with the federal government can expect to see both strengthened nondiscrimination enforcement and strengthened compliance assistance in the near future, according to Jenny Yang, director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs — with a particular focus on pay equity.
- There are many federal contractors deeply committed to advancing equity, Yang said during an April 8 American Bar Association conference; the agency plans to support those employers through compliance assistance, especially to understand how existing hiring pay and promotion systems may reinforce inequity. "We want to help incentivize employers to engage in proactive efforts to prevent discrimination, conduct regular pay audits and assess equity across their employment practices," she said.
- OFCCP also will rebuild its enforcement program, Yang said. Especially considering President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal, "it’s critical for OFCCP to reinvigorate its construction enforcement program to ensure that federal construction contractors … truly provide equal opportunity, and good jobs for all Americans," she said.
Yang took over OFCCP in January with the change in administrations. She spent years at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an agency that has focused on pay equity as a strategic enforcement priority for some time. Near the end of her term, Yang voiced support for those efforts in a 2017 interview with HR Dive.
Stakeholders also generally expected her priorities for OFCCP to include compensation discrimination. In an April 7 podcast, Epstein Becker Green attorneys indicated as much. "The focus for her going forward in OFCCP is going to be very heavily focused on pay equity," said Robert J. O'Hara, member of the firm. "In the OFCCP context, that means that their reviews are going to be focused on compensation," he said. That has always been the case, but "they’re really going to focus down on it," he continued; "that's an area of significant concern for [Yang] and this harkens back frankly to what she did when she was chair of EEOC."
As O’Hara noted, pay equity isn’t a new frontier for the agency, but employers may well see a renewed focus after years under the Trump administration. Agencies also typically prioritize enforcement with a Democrat in the White House (as opposed to preemptive compliance assistance); that so far has been the case for at least one other DOL branch, but it remains to be seen whether OFCCP will follow suit.