SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine today announced leading a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief in defense of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) authority to take action against employment discrimination by federal contractors. In the amicus brief filed in Oracle America, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Labor, the coalition pushes back against efforts by Oracle, a federal contractor and software company based in California, to effectively strip OFCCP of its enforcement powers and highlights the office’s critical role in the country’s civil rights enforcement framework. Given the current economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19, OFCCP’s unique position in protecting against discrimination in the workplace is more important than ever.
“There’s no excuse for discrimination in the workplace,” said Attorney General Becerra. “With workers around the country already facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty, they should be able to continue to count on the enforcement of fundamental civil rights protections that have been around since the 1960s. Now is not the time to backslide on tools that help make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to get ahead and keep companies that receive federal contracts accountable.”
The case currently before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia stems from a 2014 audit of Oracle by OFCCP. The audit found evidence that Oracle had engaged in systematic discrimination in its employment and hiring practices. In particular, the audit found that Oracle discriminated against women, black, and Asian employees at its headquarters, specifically finding gross disparities in pay even after controlling for other factors like job title and prior work experience. In addition, OFCCP found that Oracle engaged in a pattern and practice of hiring discrimination against qualified white, Latino, and black applicants in favor of Asian applicants. Per its procedures, OFCCP attempted to engage in conciliation discussions with Oracle to resolve the violations, but those efforts were unsuccessful. In 2017, OFCCP proceeded to enforce the applicable federal antidiscrimination laws against Oracle in an administrative court. Shortly before the administrative trial was set to begin in 2019, Oracle filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to undermine OFCCP’s critical work to fight discrimination and ability to obtain monetary relief for employees of federal contractors who have been harmed.
In the amicus brief, the coalition of attorneys general urges the court to preserve OFCCP’s current powers and regulatory authority, which play a central role in advancing civil rights in the workplace across the country. OFCCP enforces federal laws prohibiting government contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. The office’s critical role in antidiscrimination enforcement is underscored by the sheer number of federal contractors under its supervision. The office oversees approximately 200,000 federal contractors who collectively employ nearly one in five American workers. Between 2016 and 2019, OFCCP secured $81 million for more than 69,000 employees and job seekers who faced discrimination. Since 2016, OFCCP has resolved discrimination complaints and offered compliance assistance with its regulations at 430 federal contractor worksites that employ nearly 352,000 workers in California alone.
Attorney General Becerra is committed to safeguarding the rights of Californians and people across the country. Last week, the Attorney General called on the Trump Administration to halt implementation of a rule on joint employers that threatens to undermine the ability of workers to collect wages they are due. In light of COVID-19, Attorney General Becerra called on Amazon and Whole Foods to step up efforts to protect workers by providing adequate paid sick leave. The Attorney General has also issued several consumer alerts regarding the current public health crisis, including a reminder last week to wholesalers and manufacturers that California’s price gouging laws during emergencies also apply to transactions that do not directly include consumers. Last month, Attorney General Becerra urged the Trump Administration to halt implementation of the “Public Charge” rule, which could undermine public health efforts to combat COVID-19. The Attorney General also called on nine large online marketplace companies to intensify their efforts to tackle price gouging on their platforms in relation to COVID-19. For the latest on COVID-19 preparedness, please visit https://covid19.ca.gov/.
In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Becerra is joined by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
A copy of the amicus brief is available here.