OFCCP recently released a new directive to clarify the agency’s policy regarding news releases and contacts with the media. This directive supersedes previous guidelines and policy guidance pertaining to news releases and other media guidelines.
The new directive discusses the criteria and internal agency procedures OFCCP will use in developing National News Releases and Regional Media Releases. In both cases, the Department of Labor explicitly states that it will not negotiate with outside parties regarding the issuance or contents of the press release.
The following summarizes key aspects of this directive:
National News Release Criteria
The DOL’s Office of Public Affairs – in coordination with OFCCP – will make final decisions on issuing press releases.
National news releases are required for the following OFCCP enforcement actions subject to internal administrative procedures:
a. Conciliation agreements and other settlement agreements involving financial settlements of $100,000 or more and 20 or more affected class members;
b. Administrative complaints filed by the National or Regional Solicitor of a systemic case, regardless of the potential monetary liability or size of the class;
c. Consent decrees and final administrative orders resolving systemic discrimination cases regardless of the potential monetary liability or size of the class;
d. Debarment actions, other sanctions, or related actions; and
e. When a press release is warranted by other factors such as:
- cases involving significant regulatory changes;
- companies identified as “repeat violators” or involved in egregious conduct;
- other cases that might have national implications; or
- novel issues.
Regional Media Release Criteria
Regional press releases on the following OFCCP enforcement actions are discretionary subject to the criteria listed below.
a. Conciliation agreements and other settlement agreements of less than $100,000 and fewer than 20 affected class members;
b. Consent decrees and final administration orders that do not meet the criteria for a national press release but the case has regional media interest.
The directive also discusses the internal agency procedures for preparing national and regional press releases including the required staff approvals and consultations necessary before a press release may be issued. The directive also includes the template OFCCP will use in drafting press releases.
IMPLICATIONS FOR DCI CLIENTS:
- Communicate the directive: Communicate this directive to key functions within your company, such as management, human resources, law department, public relations, etc. so they understand the internal agency processes involved in determining when and how OFCCP issues press releases.
- Develop a communications strategy: While you may not be able to influence the content of an OFCCP press release, your company can still develop its own communications strategy. For example, what response will your company give to media inquiries after an OFCCP press release is issued? Who will make it? How will your company respond to internal inquires made by employees?
- Advance notice of the release: Timing is important – make sure you know exactly when the agency will issue a press release and what it will say so you can notify the appropriate company personnel in advance.
Have a comment or lessons learned from your own experience with OFCCP press releases? Post it (anonymously if you prefer) in the comment section below.