Briefing Paper--Hispanic Settlement Agreement

Pacific Southwest Region, Forest Service, USDA

January 2006

ISSUE:

Plaintiffs in Michael Brionez, et. al. v. United States Department of Agriculture, et. al., filed a Motion for Contempt and Enforcement of Court-Approved Settlement Agreement on Jan. 4, 2006. Saying that the Region has "failed to make substantial progress toward the workforce parity goal," they seek a court order finding defendants in civil contempt of the Hispanic Settlement Agreement (HSA). In addition, they ask for 14 remedial enforcement measures, including a three-year extension of the HSA. They also request approval of voluntary use of national origin data as a "plus factor" in selections for some positions.

Plaintiffs' counsel are The Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense Educational Fund. The motion for contempt and enforcement of the HSA will be heard by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland on Feb.10, 2006.

The Region feels that it is in substantial compliance with the HSA and there is no need for additional remedial measures. While there is always room for improvement, the Region is doing everything the HSA requires. Policies and programs to implement the agreement are in place. The Region will continue to strive to build and sustain a workforce that reflects the diversity of the public in California.

BACKGROUND:

The HSA, which has been in effect since Dec. 22, 2002, is set to expire Feb.14, 2006. It focuses on outreach and recruitment.

The stated goal of the HSA is to "...increase the representation of Hispanics in the Region 5 workforce to a percentage equivalent to the percentage of Hispanics in the Applicable Labor Pool in the Relevant Geographic Area". The HSA also states that "No provision of this agreement is intended as, or may be construed as imposing, a quota." In other words, reaching a percentage is a goal to which the Region aspires. While striving to increase Hispanic representation in the workforce, the Region is not required to achieve a quota.

The Region has also taken a number of actions that are not required by the HSA but contribute to its goals. These include establishment of a Settlement Agreement staff with an Outreach and Recruitment branch, with three additional fulltime outreach and recruitment positions.

The attached table gives the status of the HSA requirements as of Sept. 30, 2005, the end of the sixth and final Semi-Annual Implementation and Accomplishments Report.



STATUS OF HISPANIC SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT REQUIREMENTS
Requirement (HSA reference) Status
Goal to increase Hispanic representation in the Region 5 workforce. (HSA IV-A) Increased from 9.2% (beginning of HSA) to 12.3%. (Number has further increased since this 9/30/05 percentage. Includes line officers such as forest supervisors and district rangers.)
Regional Forester policy statement that includes specific equal employment opportunity and discrimination-free work environment language. (HSA IV-B) Completed - Issued August 27, 2003.
Maintain a fulltime Regional Recruitment Coordinator position. (HSA IV-C) In compliance.
Good faith effort to maintain and fill the Civil Rights Director position. (HSA IV-D). In compliance.
Advertise certain jobs government-wide and externally (DEMO). (HSA IV-E). In compliance - In effect and ongoing
Retain and fund Monitor. (HSA IV-F) Completed - Marci Seville hired February 2003.
Good faith effort to provide sufficient resources to meet HSA obligations. (HSA IV-G). In compliance.
Outreach, Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention. Recruitment program disseminates employment opportunity information and engages in recruitment activities. Monitor recruitment and promotion actions of Forest Supervisors and Directors. Employ outreach and recruitment documentation procedures using Exhibit C. Recruit from SCEP, temporary employees, NTE appointments and term appointments. Comply with FS workforce planning directives and policy. (HSA V-A1 thru A5) In compliance and ongoing.
Regional Recruitment Coordinator responsibilities and access to information. (HSA V-B1 thru B2) In compliance - In effect and ongoing.
Training of Regional Leadership Team, annual progress discussion at Regional Leadership Team meetings, and to all Regional employees. (HSA V-C1 & C2) In compliance - RLT training Completed November 2002, February 2003; RLT briefings completed April 2003, October 2003, February 2004; all employees trained 2004 and 2005.
Meetings between the Region and the Regional Hispanic Working Group. (HSA VI-C1 thru C4) In compliance.
Monitoring Report issued by the Region for first 60 days and then semi-annual reports thereafter; automated statistical information regarding RSNO employment data; and automated system to track applicant flow and selection information within six months. (HSA VI-D1 thru D3) In compliance.

Return to Settlement Agreement page.

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