Florida Attorney Said to Be Pick to Lead Contractor Watchdog

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By Jay-Anne B. Casuga

Craig E. Leen, city attorney of Coral Gables, Fla., is likely to be picked to lead a Labor Department office that audits government contractors for workplace nondiscrimination and affirmative action compliance, sources in the federal contracting community told Bloomberg Law.

Some in the business community anticipate that Leen will take the helm as director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the sources said. The position doesn’t require Senate confirmation, though some have argued that it should.

Other names have previously been floated for OFCCP director, including two lawyers with ties to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a former Senate labor committee attorney.

Leen has a connection with Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. In addition to performing his city attorney duties, Leen taught as an adjunct professor at the Florida International University College of Law, where Acosta served as dean.

Prior to becoming city attorney of Coral Gables in 2011, Leen was an assistant county attorney in the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office, where he was chief of the federal litigation and appeals sections. His work in the private sector includes positions with law firms Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Miami; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Boston; and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York.

Leen earned a law degree from Columbia Law School and a bachelor’s degree in government and economics from Georgetown University.

A Labor Department spokesman declined to comment Nov. 13. The White House doesn’t comment on personnel issues and has no announcement at this time, a spokesman told Bloomberg Law on Nov. 13.

Leen also told Bloomberg Law he has “no comment at this time.” However, Leen confirmed to the Miami Herald on Nov. 9 that he accepted a DOL post that oversees compliance rules for government contractors after Acosta contacted him this past summer and that his family has already moved to the Washington area.

Chamber Sent OFCCP Report to Leen, Sources Say

The OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11,246, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The agency also provides similar protections to disabled individuals and covered military veterans under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 4212 of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act.

During the Obama administration, the agency received criticism from some employer representatives and Republican lawmakers for what they viewed as burdensome rulemaking and lengthy, deep-dive audits of contractor employment data. The office annually audits about 2 percent of about 200,000 federal contractor locations.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has provided Leen with a copy of an OFCCP report it sent to the Labor Department in September, sources said. The report contained recommendations to make changes to how the office operates.

Worker advocacy and civil rights groups, however, have applauded the agency’s efforts to combat discrimination. The agency collected a record amount in back pay and interest from discrimination settlements with contractors in fiscal 2017.

The OFCCP this year weathered a possible merger with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a controversial proposal that died in Congress.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga in Washington at jcasuga@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

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