Administrative Law Judge Recommends Dismissal of Department of Labor’s Pay Discrimination Claims Against Federal Contractor
Following a two-week trial, Bello Welsh has secured a major victory for a federal contractor in an enforcement action alleging gender-based pay discrimination brought by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) under Executive Order 11246. The case, OFCCP v. Analogic Corporation, No. 2017-OFC-00001, is the first and only OFCCP case in the United States claiming gender pay discrimination to go to trial, and the decision is likely to have significant implications for OFCCP’s dealings with federal contractors going forward.
The origins of the case date back to an OFCCP compliance review that began in December 2011. Over two years later, in January 2014, OFCCP issued a Notice of Violation claiming that the contractor violated the federal Executive Order by paying females in two specific positions less than males in those same positions. A trial was held before Administrative Law Judge Colleen A. Geraghty in October 2017, and briefs were submitted in February 2018.
On March 22, 2019, Judge Geraghty issued a 43-page decision recommending that OFCCP’s pay discrimination claims be dismissed, rejecting the theory of discrimination presented by OFCCP’s expert, and finding instead that the contractor’s expert demonstrated that there was no such discrimination. In so ruling, Judge Geraghty held that OFCCP failed to prove a pattern and practice case of pay discrimination under either a disparate impact or disparate treatment analysis.
Judge Geraghty specifically found OFCCP’s disparate impact claim to be deficient because OFCCP never identified a specific policy or practice that caused the alleged pay disparity. Further, the statistical evidence offered by OFCCP’s expert to demonstrate a pay disparity was effectively refuted by the statistical evidence presented by the contractor’s expert.
Judge Geraghty also found OFCCP’s disparate treatment claim to be deficient because, again, OFCCP’s statistical evidence was rebutted by the contractor’s more persuasive statistical evidence. Judge Geraghty further determined that OFCCP had failed to present “anecdotal evidence” – that is, specific instances – of intentional discrimination, while the contractor offered substantial evidence that it did not discriminate against women.
A final decision in the case will be issued by the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board.
The import of this case is substantial, as it is likely to impact the types of statistical and other evidence that will be deemed sufficient to support a pattern and practice claim of pay discrimination, be it based on gender or any other protected status.
Bello Welsh will be providing a more detailed discussion of the decision and its potential implications in the coming weeks.