The OFCCP (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs), an agency in the Department of Labor, continues its focus on “steering” claims during audits of federal contractors.  “Steering” claims examine whether women or minorities are discriminatorily assigned to less desirable jobs —  typically those with lower pay, less prestige, and/or fewer opportunities for advancement.  Steering claims are a hot topic of late for the federal contractor community. Central Parking Systems of Louisiana Inc. is the latest to pay out a six-figure settlement in this area.

According to an OFCCP press release this month, Central Parking Systems of Louisiana will pay $275,000.00 to settle discriminatory placement and hiring claims.  The settlement will go to a class of 104 women and 91 African Americans who were rejected for valet positions at the company’s New Orleans location. The company also agreed to mandated hiring targets.  It will place 65 women and 27 African-Americans into valet positions as they come available, with retroactive seniority and benefits.

The OFCCP alleged a standard failure-to-hire claim with regard to the African American applicants, who were rejected at a statistically higher rate than similarly situated  persons of other races.  But, with regard to women, the OFCCP said qualified females were steered into cashier positions.  Cashiers do not receive tips, which means they ultimately earn less than valets. 

There is some dispute in the contractor community as to whether “steering” claims are properly classified as hiring claims, compensation claims, or even promotion claims in certain circumstances.  But the end result is the same: employers covered by the OFCCP must ensure that all persons are given equal opportunity for new jobs and, once hired, for advancement within the organization.  There are several “best practices” that help insulate companies from liability for “steering” claims.  Please contact our of our lawyers for assistance in this area.