Federal Contractors, Equal Opportunity, and the OFCCP

October 28, 2013

This is the first segment of a two-part article focusing on the responsibilities of federal contractors and federal subcontractors.

Nearly one in four American workers is employed by a company that receives direct or indirect federal funding for contracted work. That’s more than 200,000 businesses with contracts totaling almost $700 billion!

Companies that do business with the federal government—from selling supplies to the military to building roads paid for in part with federal funds—are federal contractors. A federal subcontractor is a company that helps a federal contractor perform its federal contract, such as a company that sells a truck used by a road construction company to build a federally funded road.

Being a federal contractor or subcontractor is not a right, it’s a privilege. And with that privilege comes a responsibility to comply with the law and make equal opportunity a reality for everyone. OFCCP administers and enforces three important civil rights laws:

Executive Order 11246 prohibits discrimination and requires affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, sex, religion and/or national origin.

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination and requires affirmative action in all employment practices for qualified individuals with disabilities.

Section 4212 of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 prohibits discrimination and requires affirmative action in all employment practices regarding protected veterans, including disabled veterans, recently discharged veterans, and other veterans who served during a war, campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized.

If a business violates its contractual promises, the OFCCP will negotiate a fair remedy on behalf of the affected workers. This may include getting back wages, interest and benefits as well as potential job offers.

For those employers who still refuse to comply with the law, legal action to end their valuable government contracts could be initiated!

In this two-part article, EctoHR will identify “14 Common Problem Areas for Federal Contractors” that should be avoided to prevent the loss of a valuable government contract.

Each article will focus on seven (7) different issues that a company can address to avoid a negative compliance review.

Part one of the article will highlight the first seven of 14 Problem Areas:

1. Commitment at the Top.
Best practices include the CEO addressing top staff on EEO and Affirmative Action responsibilities at least once a year, leading by example, and having EEO Officer as a direct report.

2. EEO/AA Accountability at the Top.
As the saying goes, “What Gets Measured Gets Done!” Executives and managers must be measured on their demonstrated commitment to EEO and Affirmative Action.

3. Failure to Conduct Internal Audits.
Employers should conduct self-audits to know what is happening in the company and to be able to correct or improve problem areas.

4. Absence of Consistent Personnel Policies/Guidelines.
Being consistent with selections, terminations, promotions, compensation, and discipline is key! Make sure hiring managers are well trained on company policies and make sure to document everything, including documenting annual training and putting all policies in writing.

5. Lack of Necessary Monitoring & Documentation Systems.
Make sure to keep sufficient records and support data, including keeping all interview notes, documentation on how and why promotion decisions were made, and monitoring ALL personnel actions by supervisors.

6. Lack of Pro-Active Efforts in Recruitment.
This includes building and following an outreach plan, specifically targeting females, minorities, Individuals with Disabilities and Veterans.

7. Faulty Application Procedures.
Common pitfalls include using screening criteria that are not related to the specific position being filled (i.e., searching for those with college degree when job only requires HS diploma); using stereotypes (i.e., cement finishing seen as a “man’s job” or receptionist as a “women’s position”); inconsistent definition of who is an applicant per the Internet Applicant Rule (as well as failure to provide accessibility contact information in online application system); and inconsistency in use of tests/interview questions.
Read Part 2 of this article.

EctoHR, Inc. Can Help.
To prevent “common problems” at your company, EctoHR can provide a basic compliance audit that will provide a clear path towards compliance and success. Contact EctoHR at hr@ectohr.com, or call us at 810.534.0170.

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