Ondray T. Harris, who has previously served as a head employment law litigator for the U.S. Department of Justice and the state of Virginia, has been appointed as OFCCP Director, a DOL spokesperson confirmed to Employment Law Daily on December 11. Since June 2017, Harris has been employed as a Senior Advisor with the Department of Labor, apparently working with the Employment and Training Administration. As of December 12, Harris was listed on the DOL “Leadership Team” webpage as the OFCCP Director and listed as the agency director on the OFCCP webpage’s listing of personnel, but the department had not posted any press release or other statement regarding his appointment.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Harris previously served as the Director of the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service (CRS); beginning in the George W. Bush Administration, the Senate confirmed him for that position in March 2008, and he served in that role until October 2010. Before that, Harris was the Deputy Chief of Employment Litigation at the U.S. Department of Justice from June 2005 through May 2007. He was also an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Virginia, performing employment law litigation from March 1999 through February 2004. Aside from his government employment, Harris was a Partner at LeClair Ryan from February 2004 through June 2005, and he has worked as a legal consultant throughout his career.
He earned his J.D. degree at Washington and Lee University School of Law in 1996 and has a B.A. in History from Hampden-Sydney College.
Is Senate confirmation necessary? Whether the current DOL organizational structure requires Senate confirmation of the OFCCP Director is unclear. The Obama Administration eliminated the Department of Labor’s Employment Standards Administration (ESA) in November 2009, but maintained the four component agencies previously under the ESA umbrella – the OFCCP, the Wage and Hour Division, the Office of Labor Management Standards and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. Thus, the heads of the four sub-agencies apparently have the authority to report directly to the Secretary of Labor. If the OFCCP Director does in fact have the authority to report directly to the Secretary, this would mean that the OFCCP Director is an “Inferior Officer” under the Advice and Consent clause of the U.S. Constitution requiring confirmation absent exemption, OFCCP expert John Fox has explained.
It does not appear that the Trump Administration regards the position of OFCCP Director as one that requires Senate confirmation given that the White House website does not, thus far, state that the Administration’s choice for the position has been submitted to the Senate. As of press time, the Department of Labor has not responded to Employment Law Daily’s inquiry regarding its stance on whether the OFCCP Director position requires Senate confirmation.
[Update: Previously, there had been speculation that former Coral Gables, Florida city attorney Craig Leen would be the OFCCP Director. As of December 13, 2017, the OFCCP’s personnel webpage lists Leen as a "Senior Advisor" and Ondray T. Harris as OFCCP Director. Thomas M. Dowd, the agency’s career Deputy Director, had been serving as Acting Director since November 7, 2016, when the Obama Administration’s OFCCP Director, Patricia A. Shiu, stepped down. Dowd remains in his position as Deputy Director.]
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