a. General. The CO must conduct the on-site investigation in a manner that conveys the objectivity and fact finding intent of the CO. The focus of the CO’s activity must be on the complainant’s allegations and any contractor actions that gave rise to them. The interviews and review of records should provide information clearly related to the issues raised in the complaint. The CO will make note of any other compliance concerns that he or she observes or is aware of, as discussed below.
For each on-site investigation, the CO will use the appropriate framework to address the allegations by gathering data and by conducting interviews. The Investigative Plan should reflect the data to obtain and the interviews to conduct. The CO should follow this “road map” to conduct the on-site investigation.
b. Entrance Conference. The entrance conference with the facility’s senior official or designee sets the stage for the entire investigation. It is important for the CO – as a neutral fact finder – to be well organized and nonjudgmental. The CO should discuss: the investigative process (including what will actually occur on-site), an estimate of the length of the visit, and a mutually agreeable date and time for an exit conference. Since the CO previously provided the contractor with a copy of the complaint and informed the contractor of the relevant law(s), there may be no need for the CO to repeat that information. However, the CO should be prepared to respond to any questions regarding the complaint allegations and should ensure that the contractor understands the allegations.
The CO should inform the contractor that Executive Order 11246, Section 503 and VEVRAA implementing regulations prohibit interference and intimidation including threats, coercion, harassment and discrimination of any individual in the exercise of his or her rights protected under OFCCP enforced laws. Such protected rights include filing a complaint; assisting or participating in an investigation, compliance evaluation, hearing or any other activity related to the administration of Executive Order 11246, Section 503 and VEVRAA or other EEO laws; opposing any act or practice that violates any of these EEO laws; or exercising any other right afforded them by these laws. During the entrance conference, the CO must also advise the contractor of the need to conduct confidential employee interviews. In that discussion, the CO must make it clear that contractor representatives are not permitted to be present during nonmanagement interviews or during management interviews when it is determined that the manager is not speaking on behalf of the company.
c. Facility Inspection. If appropriate, the CO should conduct an inspection of the contractor’s establishment during the early stages of the on-site investigation. By inspecting the establishment/facility, the CO will be able to observe, among other things, the layout of the facility, what work employees may perform in the location, whether there may have been possible witnesses to an event, whether there is any display of graffiti, and whether there is inappropriate material displayed. The CO should note, and possibly diagram, any physical setting/location identified in the complaint. The CO should also note other observations, as appropriate. For example, in investigating a class complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of sex, the CO should note the presence or absence of women in the work area or job positions at issue. When appropriate, the CO may photograph the location he or she is inspecting. If the contractor objects to the CO taking photographs, the CO should discuss the matter with his or her supervisor.
d. Required Notices and Postings (Executive Order 11246 and Executive Order 13496). During the on-site investigation of a complaint, the CO also has the opportunity to verify that the contractor is in compliance with required notices and postings. Executive Order 11246 requires that the contractor conspicuously display the “EEO is the Law” poster, and any required supplements to that poster. The Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Provision must also be disseminated to employees and applicants, either by electronic posting or by posting copies in conspicuous places. All of these postings notify applicants and employees that federal law protects applicants and employees from various kinds of discrimination. Executive Order 13496 requires that the contractor post notice of employee rights under the NLRA. The NLRA guarantees employees the right to organize and bargain collectively with their employer. The CO should inspect such areas as break rooms, personnel offices, common areas and employee bulletin boards for the required postings.
e. Information Gathering. The CO’s primary responsibility during an on-site investigation is gathering information by conducting interviews with appropriate management officials and witnesses, and requesting relevant contractor records. This part of the on-site investigation is explained in more detail below in FCCM 6I03.
f. Exit Conference. Upon completing the on-site investigation, the CO should conduct an exit conference with the facility’s senior official or designee (preferably the same person who was at the entrance conference). At this meeting, the CO should present a summary of any observed violations and should document any rebuttal arguments made by the contractor. The CO should emphasize that the findings discussed during the exit conference are preliminary, are not binding on OFCCP, and that OFCCP will not draw final conclusions until the CO can complete analyses of all the data and can affirm or refute each allegation. The CO should inform the contractor of the approximate length of time it will take to complete the off-site analysis, prepare the Investigative Report and issue the Notice of Results of Investigation (NORI) (see FCCM 6K). The CO should also remind the contractor that the law prohibits retaliation and interference. COs should also inform contractors that the exit conference is not necessarily the end of the fact-finding and that more information may be requested, if necessary.