The tech giant Oracle Corporation (Oracle) kicked off the holiday season last week by filing a 50-page complaint against the Department of Labor (DOL) claiming “unprecedented overreach” in the agency’s enforcement practices.
In the lengthy complaint, Oracle claimed that the DOL has created an unauthorized administrative trial system that prosecutes and adjudicates discrimination claims, then awards broad monetary and injunctive relief when the agency finds violations. First, Oracle asserts that the DOL does not have the legal authority to prosecute Oracle, or any federal government contractor for discrimination violations, because the DOL is not the agency responsible for discrimination- that responsibility lies with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Oracle calls the agency’s practice a “power grab” that exceeds its Congressional authority.
Second, Oracle alleges that the DOL improperly prosecutes within its own agency before Administrative Law Judges rather than referring allegations to an Article III tribunal for adjudication. The Complaint alleges that the DOL is limited to prosecution for breach of contract where a federal government contractor engages in discriminatory actions, and that the DOL should not prosecute the employment discrimination and/or affirmative-action violations and award monetary and injunctive relief accordingly.
Finally, Oracle throws out a few heavy lumps of coal- calling the DOL practices “coercive” and the agency itself a “regime.” Oracle frames the DOL adjudicators as a “group of unelected, unaccountable and unconfirmed administrative officials.” Although early in the lawsuit, this case may be an important test for the limits of administrative agency powers in federal district court. Management can expect to see increased litigation where the DOL continues to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate claims, often concurrent with an EEOC investigation. If you are currently facing a DOL investigation, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.
By: Rebecca Schach