Rosemount Inc. in Chanhassen agreed to turn over affirmative action employment records to the U.S. Labor Department, as required for a federal contractor, after 17 months of legal wrangling.

The Labor Department filed a lawsuit on Sept. 9 after first directing the company in July 2021 to turn in the required records, which are used for equal employment audits to make sure federal contractors are following hiring laws. The department said it had received no response from the company after repeated requests for information.

Rosemount Inc. — a subsidiary of the $18 billion St. Louis-based Emerson Electric Co. — was at risk of losing its federal contracts if it did not settle the issue. The company agreed to cooperate with the government as part of a consent decree agreement filed this week.

"Generally speaking [companies] just comply with the audit, which is what they are required to do as a federal contractor. So the fact that we had to go through all of these steps to look at their hiring program is unusual," said Labor Department spokeswoman Rhonda Burke.

In a statement, Emerson blamed its delay in sending documents to an "administrative oversight" that has since been resolved.

The records dispute involved Rosemount Inc. in Chanhassen and its subsidiary Rosemount Specialty Products in Washington state. The two companies — which make pressure, temperature, level and flow reading instruments — have contracts with the Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency worth over $4.3 million.

Federal anti-discrimination laws dating to 1965 require government contractors to ensure equal employment opportunities exist for all job candidates and workers in protected classes including women, veterans and people of color.

One condition of receiving federal contracts involves complying with equal employment audits, which includes submitting timely employment data.

"Failure to provide required documentation for a compliance review is a clear violation of the legal obligations of a federal contractor," said Carmen Navarro, regional director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in Chicago.

Failure to provide hiring data does not mean employment discrimination took place. It just prevented the government from performing the equal employment audit.

The missing data requested in July 2021 included employment activity and information on applicants, hires, promotions and terminations by job group and job title, and information on its affirmative action goals, Labor officials said.

"Emerson's Rosemount business inadvertently failed to provide required documentation to the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs," a statement from Emerson said. "When this oversight was discovered, Emerson and its Rosemount business have worked expeditiously to resolve the matter."

Emerson officials also said they took steps to prevent future oversights.