AG Racine Leads Multistate Coalition to Prevent Discrimination By Publicly-Funded Government Contractors

Eight Attorneys General Argue Court Should Uphold System That Ensures Taxpayer Dollars Do Not Fund Discrimination

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today co-led a coalition of eight Attorneys General supporting the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) work to fight employment discrimination by federal contractors. OFCCP, an agency within the Department of Labor, 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. In the amicus brief filed in Oracle America, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Labor, the multistate coalition highlights OFCCP’s critical role in the country’s civil rights enforcement work and pushes back against efforts by Oracle, a federal contractor that allegedly engaged in systemic employment discrimination, to significantly weaken OFCCP’s enforcement powers.

“Strong federal enforcement of antidiscrimination laws in publicly-funded contracting is crucial to protect the civil rights of the District’s workers, many of whom work for government contractors,” said AG Racine. “Our coalition urges the Court to reject Oracle’s attempt to avoid consequences for its illegal discrimination and to uphold the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ power to fight employment discrimination nationwide.”

The case currently before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia stems from a 2014 compliance review of Oracle, a federal contractor and software company based in California, by OFCCP. The compliance review found evidence that Oracle had engaged in systematic discrimination in its employment and hiring practices, particularly against women, black, and Asian employees. The review found 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 come to an agreement with Oracle to resolve the violations, but its efforts were unsuccessful. In 2017, OFCCP proceeded to enforce the applicable federal antidiscrimination laws against Oracle in an administrative court. Ahead of a scheduled 2019 administrative trial, Oracle filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to undermine OFCCP’s critical work to fight discrimination and its ability to obtain monetary relief for employees of federal contractors who have been harmed.

In the amicus brief, the Attorneys General urge the court to preserve OFCCP’s current powers and regulatory authority, which allow the agency to play a central role in advancing civil rights in workplaces across the country. The office monitors approximately 200,000 federal contractors who collectively employ nearly one in five American workers. Each year, the Office conducts reviews of 2,500 to 5,000 federal contractors to determine their compliance with anti-discrimination requirements. If violations are identified, OFCCP is empowered to seek appropriate remedies, including back pay for harmed workers, and other remedies for employees and applicants whose careers were affected by discrimination.

Between 2016 and 2019, OFCCP secured $81 million for more than 69,000 employees and job seekers who faced discrimination. In the last five years, OFCCP resolved discrimination complaints and compliance matters affecting more than 24,000 employees of 40 different federal contractors in the District of Columbia alone. The states argue that gutting OFCCP’s enforcement regime would create gaps that would be difficult for federal or state agencies to fill, and systemic discrimination among federal contractors could go unchecked.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here:

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led this amicus brief and were joined by the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.