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Reston contractor settles allegations of racial discrimination in hiring, says labor department

Two people shaking hands (via Cytonn Photography on Unsplash)

An IT contractor headquartered in Reston’s South Lakes area has agreed to pay over $435,000 to settle a federal investigation that found racial discrimination in its hiring practices.

Intelligent Waves LLC allegedly engaged in “systemic hiring discrimination” against 14 Black applicants who sought work in Arizona and Nevada as test instrumentation technicians, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced Friday (April 21).

The allegations were raised by a “routine” compliance investigation that took place between Nov. 5, 2019 and Aug. 31, 2021, according to a news release.

Investigators found violations of Executive Order 11246, which prohibits discrimination by federal contractors, by personnel at the company’s Reston headquarters (1801 Robert Fulton Drive, Suite 440) who were responsible for filling the technician positions.

“OFCCP identified a statistically significant disparity (equivalent to a shortfall of five (5)), not otherwise explained, in the hiring of Black Test Instrumentation Technician applicants on the basis of their race,” the office says in the compliance agreement.

The OFCCP also found that Intelligent Waves failed to preserve accurate employment records and implement an audit system to monitor the effectiveness of its affirmative action program during the investigation period, according to the agreement.

“Our settlement with Intelligent Waves reflects our commitment to preventing hiring discrimination and holding federal contractors accountable when they fail to ensure equal employment opportunity,” Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Sam Maiden said.

Launched in 2006, Intelligent Waves provides cybersecurity, data science, network & systems engineering and software development services. Its clients include the Air Force, NASA, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the General Services Administration, according to the labor department.

Per the compliance agreement, the company “neither admits nor denies” any violations of the federal government’s nondiscrimination rules.

According to Intelligent Waves, the discrimination allegations stem from “a single position and an incident that transpired almost three years ago, resulting from a record-keeping error when Intelligent Waves was a small business.”

The company says it hasn’t employed the people involved since 2022 and started “implementing measures” to ensure compliance with federal rules as soon as it became aware of the error.

“Intelligent Waves has a long history of providing an equitable and inclusive workplace for all employees, exceeding industry averages for diversity and veteran employment, and has maintained a strong anti-discrimination policy since its founding,” Intelligent Waves said in a statement, noting that it was listed among the D.C. area’s top corporate diversity employers last year by the Washington Business Journal.

However, as part of the settlement, Intelligent Waves has agreed to not only provide $435,368 in back pay and interest to the 14 affected individuals, but also give them priority for a job offer if there are future test instrumentation technician vacancies.

The contractor is also required to evaluate its hiring policies and procedures for the position and train employees involved in hiring on any changes.

All of the settlement funds must be distributed by Feb. 20, 2024, and the company must give the OFCCP a progress report on its hiring practices by April 1, 2024, per a timeline in the agreement. The office has a Class Member Locator with information for anyone who thinks they’re eligible for relief.

Photo via Cytonn Photography/Unsplash

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