Obscure Agency May Have Role in ACLU Gender Inquiry

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Several studios are federal contractors, bringing them under the jurisdiction of the little-known OFCCP.

When the ACLU sought government intervention last week into Hollywood’s limp record of hiring female directors (women have directed only about four percent of top grossing films in recent years and fourteen percent of recent TV episodes), it wrote to three agencies, two federal and one state: the EEOC, California’s analogous DFEH, and the OFCCP.

The what?

The OFCCP, or Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, part of the Department of Labor with jurisdiction over federal contractors. A search of the relevant federal database indicates that CBS, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures and NBCUniversal or their subsidiaries are government contractors.

That can trigger an obligation under federal Executive Order 11246 on the part of the company and its subsidiaries, and potentially on the part of parent and sibling entities, to prepare an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP).

Those AAPs have to document an analysis of the company's hiring process, affirmative action statistics on gender, race and other categories broken out by job category and various other matters. The plan has to be turned over to the OFCCP in the event of an audit, but is not otherwise filed.

If the OFCCP finds discrimination, it can “debar” a company — that is, prohibit it from being a government contractor — which would be embarrassing for the studio or network concerned but wouldn’t have any material economic effect. It can also award back pay to victims of discrimination.

With that background, The Hollywood Reporter asked spokespeople if their company had been preparing AAPs and whether the analysis includes feature and television directors, writers and key cast. THR also asked for copies of the AAPs for the last several years.

All four declined or failed to comment.

Whether the OFCCP will pursue the ACLU letter is as yet unknown.

Email: jh@jhandel.com

 

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