Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Government Contractor Pays $250 Thousand to Resolve Discrimination Allegations

The Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) just reached a settlement with a Government contractor that will require the company to pay back pay and interest to settle hiring discrimination.

It all began in 2011 with a routine OFCCP compliance evaluation at GEO Group, a company specializing in privatized corrections, detention, and mental health treatment at its Joe Corley Detention Center. The OFCCP found that GEO systematically discriminated against female correctional officer applicants which, of course, is a violation of federal statutes prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sex.

The settlement totaled $250 thousand and in addition to the back pay, GEO will provide job opportunities to 22 affected female applicants as correctional officer positions become available. Additionally, the contractor committed to taking steps to ensure its personnel practices, including record-keeping and internal auditing procedures, meet legal requirements.

The press release announcing this settlement did not detail specifically what GEO did that rose to the level of hiring discrimination. The fact that (i) it took about eight years to settle and (ii) it was a result of a routine audit rather than a complaint or whistleblower, indicates to us that the Government's position was not "slam-dunk". Perhaps the problem was one of record-keeping deficiencies where the contractors could not demonstrate based on records that it did not discriminate. Perhaps also the $250 thousand settlement was a business decision by GEO to get the Government off its back.

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