New Affirmative Action Requirements for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Regarding Veterans and People With Disabilities
On September 24, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued final rules imposing new affirmative action and non-discrimination obligations on government contractors. The new rules set non-binding “hiring goals” for two categories of individuals – veterans and persons with disabilities. In addition, the regulations mandate specific types of information-gathering and record-keeping, provide examples of programs that companies can use to increase the hiring of veterans and individuals with disabilities, and require the flow-down of specific language to government subcontractors concerning their equal opportunity employment responsibilities.
For the first time, Federal contractors will be required to invite applicants to self-identify as a protected veteran or as an individual with a disability. Federal contractors must establish a hiring benchmark for veterans and a goal for individuals with disabilities. Federal contractors must then track the collected data on veterans and individuals with disabilities and prepare quantitative analyses designed to measure the effectiveness of outreach, recruitment, and good faith efforts. Some records must be maintained for three years so that contractors have an historical framework by which to evaluate their progress.
Under the new regulations, federal prime contractors are required to flow-down equal opportunity clauses in their subcontracts, obliging subcontractors to comply with the new affirmative action and non-discrimination obligations toward veterans and people with disabilities.
New Regulations Take Effect March 24, 2014
Federal contractors will have additional time to meet the goals for hiring and employing individuals with disabilities and veterans.
Even though the many aspects of the regulations will become effective in March 2014, employers will not have to comply with the requirements related to the hiring goals or change their data collection, record-keeping and reporting procedures until the following plan year. For example: If an employer’s next affirmative action plan (as of March 24) is due to the OFCCP Jan. 1, 2015, only then would it have to start collecting data on individuals with disabilities and veterans.
For other aspects of the rules-such as the nondiscrimination provisions and general enforcement and complaint procedures for the disability rule-contractors must be in compliance as of the March 24, 2014, effective date.
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*This Alert is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.