In Part One of this series, I discussed liability-related reforms recently announced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFFCP). Keep reading to learn about Affirmative Action-related reforms that all federal contractors should take into consideration.
Although contractors are only required to set goals for minorities and women in Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs), OFCCP has been moving towards strongly encouraging disaggregation of placement goals for each race/ethnicity. Although this may eventually become mandatory, for now it is a best practice for any company that cares about affirmative action.
OFCCP would like companies to drill down and analyze by race and ethnicity, including Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans and Alaska Natives. By drilling down, you can look at the representation of minority groups compared to the availability of the workforce in your region, which can allow you to set more specific and accurate affirmative action goals.
Companies should be actively recruiting Native Americans, even if they are not located near an Indian reservation. OFCCP has been prioritizing its Indian and Native American Employment Rights Program (INAERP) and will use cohort analysis to seek to include Native Americans in settlement classes even when Native Americans make up too small a group to include in a regression. Also, OFCCP will look closely at placement goals for Native Americans when a company is on or near an Indian reservation. This includes encouraging Indian preference when on or near an Indian reservation.
Learn more: Here are the links:
Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) are higher education institutions that serve minority populations. This includes Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving institutions (HSIs) and Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AAPISIs). OFCCP is making a push for federal contractors to do outreach to Minority Serving Institutions and to include an MSI clause in their conciliation agreements and Early Resolution Conciliation Agreements (ERCAs). I recommend that all federal contractors have a program for outreach to MSIs.
Minority Education Initiatives | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov)
Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities by federal contractors and subcontractors. Section 503 Final Rule encourages federal contractors and subcontractors to have 7% of their employees self-identify as individuals with disabilities, but 7% is currently just a target. However, there is a potential that the 7% goal may eventually become a requirement, or that OFCCP will become stricter towards companies not meeting the 7% goal in a majority of job groups or demonstrating good-faith efforts. (see FAQ 13). Companies should proactively address this by having specific disability hiring programs, including autism at work programs.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) put out a memorandum on discrimination against veterans, particularly veterans with disabilities, which is a change because in the past, the EEOC has not considered veterans to be a protected class under the authorities it enforces (in contrast to OFCCP, which enforces VEVRAA). OFCCP is moving towards a focus on underemployment of veterans, disabled veterans hiring, and advancement of military spouses as well.
While many companies have programs for veterans, most don’t have programs specifically for disabled veterans or military spouses. Companies should add programs specifically for disabled veterans and military spouses to do the right thing and avoid liability.