Following Logan Isaac’s September 2016 federal complaint, a compliance officer with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) interviewed the former Duke University Divinity School Coordinator of Student Records and Registrar, among other managerial employees. The interview was conducted over the phone on February 23, 2017. Here is a link to the OFCCP interview notes which we received through a Freedom of Information Act request. Some commentary is provided below the break which may provide some context as to why this interview is significant.
According to question 27, the Registrar knew Isaac was military since 2010, when he started at Duke. She had previously reported to OIE that “Logan doesn’t have much teaching experience.” (OIE Final Report, p. 3) By the time Isaac first sent her his resumé in fall 2015, he had already accrued four semesters of unsupervised teaching experience at Methodist University and had taught a total of over 130 undergraduate students.
Furthermore, on October 10, 2016 an Assistant VP told Isaac over the phone that, during her OIE interview, the Registrar remarked Isaac “should be happy because he was compensated the same amount for half the work.” The term the EEOC has historically used to describe this kind of sentiment is “Under-Utilization,” which includes being seen as “able to perform only limited tasks.”
The Registrar’s inclusion in the FOIA release, and her affirmation in question 17 as being one of many “management officials,” establish her managerial position. However, at the time of her interview, she was no longer an employee at the University. Emails received through FOIA between OFCCP and Duke counsel show that the Registrar agreed to be interviewed only in the presence of an attorney, which heightens the appearance that she has something to hide. FCCM 6G03(f) stipulates that the presence of counsel at an employee interview may waive any confidentiality either party might expect. Other areas of the FCCM suggest that non-employees are barred from having representation present.
The Senior VP, in his testimony, claims (twice) that “every manager” receives EEO training and “knows the policy.” (Reese, q.33) The Registrar is a management position and had hiring power over Isaac. “As far as [the Registrar] knows,” Duke has an EEO policy (q.24), but she is more certain that “Yes” it does include veteran status (q.26) and “yes,” (q.23 & 25) supervisors are held accountable to said policy. The first claim is false, as we have established on our post “Veteran Status at Duke.” The second claim is unclear, since no manager interviewed by OFCCP ever articulates any method by which supervisors are held accountable.
It is noteworthy that the Registrar does “not collect vet information before or during the process” of hiring teaching assistants (q.11), which violates not only federal law, but also university EEO policy and the Senior VP’s own testimony. The only training the Registrar claims to have received was informal “on the Job Training” in hiring teaching assistants.
Despite two semesters of on the job training from both the Academic Dean, it isn’t clear if the Registrar followed any reasonable or consistent pattern in hiring. After all, she cites two different reasons for why Isaac had been passed over for a contract in May 2016. In response to one question, she claims it was because Isaac was “not a doctoral student” (q.14f), but later remarks that it was because “no professors recommended” him (q.17b). The Registrar has therefore provided what the EEOC calls “inconsistent or shifting explanations,” an example of a fact that “May Support Finding of Retaliation.”
As a central concern expressed to both the interim Dean (on February 29, following an Implicit Bias presentation) and the Relations Dean (on April 11, in his office), of potential retaliation for talking to them about Isaac’s employment, question 14 is very important. The Registrar acknowledges she knew Isaac, knew of his military status (later, in q.27), and it was she who hired him for Spring 2016. Although the Relations Dean told Isaac by email on April 21, 2016 that he had “shared the affirmative action plan with our HR office,” the Registrar claims she “did not receive any info from [the Relations Dean] about the AAP.” (q.14d)
Then, without any apparent prompting, the Registrar immediately connects the Affirmative Action Plan, to which she claims to have never been alerted, with whether she had any knowledge of Isaac’s stated concerns “in regard to treatment of veterans” prior to “late August” (q.14d & 20b), when the Senior VP disclosed Isaac’s protected activity during his Implicit Bias presentation.
The Registrar clearly understands that, if she had known about Isaac asking questions “in regard to veteran treatment,” then she would be directly implicated in failing to adhere to the University AAP requiring hiring managers like herself to “recruit, train, and promote” veterans like Isaac. She seems to realize that she has a lot to lose if it can be established that she acted upon either anti-military implicit bias or upon retaliatory intent. That explains why, according to emails contained in the FOIA dump, she refused to meet with OFCCP investigators without Duke’s retained counsel present, even though she was no longer employed there. This might violate OFCCP procedure, which prohibits non-employees from having representation present (FCCM § 2M00.e, p.104, and § 6G03.d-f, p.216).
Question 14e is so critical, then, that it merits special attention. Here are both the question and the Registrar’s response, for reference;
Question 14e is the only section she refuses to answer, or which OFCCP failed to record a reply. The first part is a simply Yes/No. It would be easy to just say No, even it it weren’t true, because the Department of Labor has a history of conducting shoddy VEVRAA investigations. The problem with answering No, however, is if you knew contradictory evidence existed somewhere and were concerned about the risk of it emerging through legal discovery or by chance. If the answer is Yes, then she would have to also explain why she discussed Isaac’s protected status but also, more importantly, why she refused to abide by the Affirmative Action Plan as required by federal law. (q.23)
Other OFCCP interviews can be found here.