The technology industry is not being targeted by the Labor Department, despite ongoing litigation between the agency and Silicon Valley giants
“No one is being targeted or singled out for review,” Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Craig Leen said in his opening remarks. “I want OFCCP to have a good and constructive relationship with the tech industry.”
The San Jose event is the first of several “town hall”-style meetings the agency is hosting, with other gatherings slated for Seattle, New York, and Oklahoma, to meet with contractors from specific industries. San Jose and Seattle are focused on the technology industry; New York will be focused on the legal and financial services fields; and Oklahoma will be focused on outreach to American Indians employed by federal contractors, a high-ranking OFCCP official told Bloomberg Law.
Technology companies have recently pushed back on the OFCCP’s data requests, particularly related to compensation information, and many industry representatives expressed concern about how the agency examines pay data at the public meeting. Both Google and Oracle disputed the agency’s requests for additional employment information in their respective cases.
Much of the concern stems from how the agency analyzes job titles and roles, which vary widely in the technology industry, the representatives said. The agency currently relies on statistical evidence, found from grouping similarly situated job titles, to uncover pay disparities, and industry representatives have objected to this unique form of analysis, the official said.
“The important thing about numbers is they’re fair, and the OFCCP is not here to favor any particular group,” Leen said.
The agency must continue to analyze the data by grouping similar job titles because it provides a reliable comparison for pay, the official said. Without the grouped job titles, there is no bellwether for compensation equity.
“Otherwise, no one’s really looking at pay across the company in any meaningful way,” the official said.
To alleviate some confusion, the agency is aiming to release case examples regarding pay, “to show companies how we would assess a certain pay situation,” the official said.
Names and identifying factors would be removed, or the agency would develop a sample case, the official said, but it would provide insight into how the agency analyzes job groups in regular compliance audits.
The technology industry might not be singled out for enforcement action, but during his address Leen warned contractors to closely examine promotion systems, especially in the legal field.
“Please analyze your promotion systems,” he said. “That’s something I’m going to look at this year.”
The next meeting will be Feb. 28 in Seattle.
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(Corrects third paragraph to clarify that the Oklahoma town hall will focus on outreach to Native Americans employed by federal contractors.)