The summer break is over after a trip to the Delaware beaches to celebrate America’s Independence and a spectacular drive along the Beartooth Highway through Wyoming and Montana. The Beartooth Highway is probably one of the most scenic drives I have taken. But, back to Federal contracting reality…
The objective to this post is to provide a general overview of the OFCCP, with a focus on the construction industry, while covering a few specific areas to improve your company’s understanding of the compliance requirements.
What is OFCCP
OFCCP was created by Executive Order 11246 in 1965 and expanded by the Rehabilitation Act (1973) and the Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (1974). OFCCP provides compliance enforcement and oversight for contractors and subcontractors compliance with the three laws. Further, they must not discriminate in their employment practices on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.
OFCCP is an agency within the Department of Labor with a national network of offices. The National Office is located in Washington DC and there are six regional offices located in large metropolitan areas (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest & Rocky Mountain, and Pacific). Each region contains numerous district offices that carry out the mission of OFCCP.
The OFCCP mission
“The purpose of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is to enforce, for the benefit of job seekers and wage earners, the contractual promise of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity required of those who do business with the Federal government.”
In the context of OFCCP’s mission, it provides the following services:
To minimize violations OFCCP has an extensive compliance assistance program to assist Federal contractors. OFCCP uses its national network of regional, district, and area offices to provide compliance assistance to contractors. OFCCP conducts seminars and workshops around the country, maintains a website with resources and tips, operates a help desk line during work hours, and provides an e-mail address for inquiries and feedback. OFCCP also facilitates agreements between contractors and Department of Labor job training programs to help contractors identify and recruit qualified workers.
To monitor and ensure Federal contractors are in compliance with the EEO laws, OFCCP conducts compliance evaluations that review contractors’ employment practices. Contractors are scheduled for review on a periodic basis, generally not more frequently than every two years. OFCCP examines whether the contractor maintains hiring and employment practices that are nondiscriminatory, and determines whether the contractor is taking affirmative action to ensure that applicants and employees have an equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. Typical practices reviewed include: job placement, employee training, promotion, compensation, and termination. OFCCP also occasionally conducts other types of compliance evaluations, such as a Corporate Management Compliance Evaluation to determine whether qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and protected veterans have encountered artificial barriers to advancement into mid-level and senior corporate management.
OFCCP conducts investigations of complaints of discrimination filed by applicants or employees against Federal contractors. OFCCP works in coordination with the EEOC when processing discrimination complaints. OFCCP’s website provides information regarding how to file a complaint and how it will be processed at http://www.dol.gov/esa/ofccp/regs/compliance/pdf/pdfstart.htm.
Conciliation and Enforcement Action
If a compliance evaluation or complaint investigation yields a finding that a contractor violated any part of the regulations, OFCCP will attempt to first negotiate with the contractor to reach an appropriate remedy (“conciliation process”). Generally, if the conciliation process is successful the contractor and OFCCP will sign a Conciliation Agreement. The contractor will be expected to comply with the Agreement’s terms. If conciliation efforts fail, OFCCP and the Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor may pursue an enforcement action.
Basic Compliance Requirements
In most situations a company can remain compliant following the basic EEO requirements outlined in the Small Business Guide:
- Don’t discriminate
- Post an EEO poster
- Include the EEO tagline in employment advertising: “Federal contractors are required to state in all solicitations or advertisements for employment that all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
- Keep detailed records
- Open your books and records to OFCCP during an investigation or evaluation
- File the required reports