7B Timeliness and Continuing Violation

As a general rule, one seeking to remedy a discriminatory act must assert his or her rights within the periods established by the laws establishing the rights. Under OFCCP procedures, for an act of discrimination discovered during a compliance evaluation to be remedied as a violation of Executive Order 11246, Section 503 or VEVRAA, it must have taken place within two years prior to the date of the Scheduling Letter (Figure F-3 Scheduling Letter), unless the violation is part of a continuing violation. Complaints filed under Executive Order 11246 are timely if the complainant filed it within 180 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory act, except for good cause shown, in which case the Director of OFCCP may waive the filing deadline.362 Complaints filed under VEVRAA and Section 503 are timely if the complainant filed it within 300 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory act, except for good cause shown, in which case the Director may waive the filing deadline.363

362. 41 CFR 60-1.21.

363. 41 CFR 60-300.61, 41 CFR 60-741.61.

7B00 Continuing Violation

The courts developed the continuing violation concept to address the fact that some employment practices are not discrete incidents, beginning and ending at particular points in time. For example, a policy or practice of paying lower wages to women rather than to men for the same or similar work is discriminatory and the contractor repeats the violation each time the contractor pays the women. When evaluating such violations, the courts will consider the entire time period during which the violations occurred or the time period since the effective date of the law, whichever is later. For example, a continuing violation which is grounded in racial discrimination is actionable from the date the continuing practice began or the effective date of Executive Order 11246 (September 1965), whichever is later. This is provided, of course, that the other requirements of coverage are met.

In compensation cases, contractors will be in violation of Executive Order 11246 any time they pay wages, benefits or other compensation that result, in whole or in part, from application of any discriminatory decision or practice.

a. Application of Continuing Violation Theory. OFCCP applies the continuing violation theory in compliance evaluations and complaint investigations. The theory is applicable to the following situations:

1. Series of Individual Discriminatory Acts. A continuing violation may occur when the discrimination involves a series of closely related acts. The acts must be sufficiently related to form a pattern of discrimination. The last of these acts must have occurred within the two-year period preceding the date of the Supply and Service Scheduling Letter or the Construction Compliance Evaluation Notice; or, in the instance of a complaint investigation, within the complaint filing period (i.e., 180 or 300 days).

2. Maintenance of a Discriminatory Policy or System. A continuing violation may occur when a contractor maintains a discriminatory policy or practice into the two-year, 180-day period or 300-day period. The violation may focus on one particular employment practice, such as promotions or compensation; or it may deal with discrimination in a series of areas, including initial placement, promotions, transfers and salary. It is not necessary under this approach for OFCCP to show that a discrete act applying the alleged discriminatory policy occurred during the two-year period, 180-day period or 300-day period. It is sufficient to show that the policy or system continued into the period and that, if there had been a personnel action, the policy or system would have been applied in the alleged discriminatory manner.

b. Remedies Under a Continuing Violation. Once the CO establishes that there is a continuing violation by showing a series of related acts, one of which occurred within the liability period, or a continuing employment policy that extended into the liability period, then the contractor must remedy all acts that are part of the continuing violation since the effective date of the law under which relief is sought or from the start of the violation, whichever is later. This is so whether they occurred within or outside of the 180-day or 300-day filing period (complaint investigation), or two-year (compliance evaluation) period.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 23, 2019