Fair Pay, How to File a Complaint for Back Wages

HOW TO FILE A DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT WITH THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR’S OFFICE OF FEDERAL CONTRACT COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS

 

In fiscal year (FY) 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) won a record $67,510,982 in back pay, salary and benefits for an unprecedented 24,508 American workers who had been subjected to unlawful employment discrimination.

Ninety-nine percent of dollars were collected in cases of systemic discrimination — those involving a significant number of workers or applicants subjected to discrimination because of an unlawful employment practice or policy. The $67.5 million reflects a 133 percent increase over financial remedies obtained in FY 2001.

The last eight years of OFCCP enforcement data show a 14 percent increase in the total number of compliance reviews completed versus a similar period in the prior administration. More importantly, OFCCP’s more strategic approach resulted in a 92 percent increase in the number of job applicants and employees (113,630) who financially benefited from OFCCP investigations and over $50 million in additional back pay salary and benefits versus the prior administration.

OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended. These laws prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment based on race, gender, color, religion, national origin, disability or covered veteran status.

Any nonexempt employee covered by the FLSA who believes that he or she has not been paid the required federal minimum wage of $5.85 per hour effective July 24, 2007; $6.55 per hour effective on July 24, 2008; and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009, or overtime (1½ times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a work week) may file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor. A complaint may be filed by mail or in person at any WHD District Office.

The FLSA contains a two-year statute of limitations (three-years for willful violations). This means that any part of a back wage claim which was earned more than two years before a federal court lawsuit is filed may not be collectible. Accordingly, to ensure WHD can complete its investigation before the statute of limitation expires, employees should file complaints with WHD as soon as the violation occurs but no later than 18 months after the violation occurred.

HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT WITH OFCCP

Individuals who are protected by OFCCP may file a complaint if they believe they have been discriminated against by federal contractors or subcontractors. A complaint may also be filed by organizations or other individuals on behalf of the person or persons affected.

If a complaint filed under Executive Order 11246, as amended, involves discrimination against only one person, the OFCCP will normally refer it to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Such referrals are made under a Memorandum of Understanding between the two federal agencies.

Complaints that involve groups of people or indicate patterns of discrimination are generally investigated by the OFCCP. The program also investigates individual or group complaints filed under the disability and veterans laws.

Executive Order 11246, as amended, complaints must be filed within 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination unless the time for filing is extended for good cause shown.

Complaints alleging violations of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended (38 U.S.C. 4212), must be filed within 300 days unless the time for filing is extended for good cause shown. Extensions of the filing time require approval by OFCCP’s Deputy Assistant Secretary.

Persons filing complaints should include a description of the alleged discrimination involved and any other related information which would assist in an investigation of the complaint.

Complaint Filing Process

A complaint may be filed with the OFCCP by completing the "Complaint of Discrimination in Employment Under Federal Government Contracts" form (Form CC-4). To file a complaint, the complainant can choose to:

  1. complete and file the CC-4 complaint electronically with the appropriate OFCCP Regional Office, and your required signature will be obtained at the time you are interviewed; or
  2. complete the CC-4 electronically, download and sign the complaint form, and fax or mail the form to the appropriate OFCCP Regional Office; or
  3. complete, sign and file the CC-4 in person with any OFCCP District & Area office.; or
  4. download the CC-4, manually complete and sign it, and fax or mail it the appropriate OFCCP Regional Office.

The appropriate OFCCP Regional Office location is the office that covers the location where the alleged discrimination occurred. You can reach them toll free at 1 (800) 397-6251.

It is important to note that, whatever method is used to file a complaint, the complaint cannot be considered valid without the required signature of the complainant. However, the required signature needed to validate the complaint will not necessarily alter the effective complaint filing date.

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