2018 was a very busy year for federal contractors. Before we ring in 2019, let’s take a stroll through some of the highlights and what can be done to prepare for another busy year.
Yes, it’s that time again, to reflect on all the accomplishments of the year and those things that despite the best of intentions, were still left undone. Through several happy meetings and scary ghost stories of AAPs past, coworkers have told you to be of good cheer. So, let’s take a look at your list to see if you will be caroling at the holiday dinner party or cleaning coal from your desk.
OFCCP has received approval for a new scheduling letter to be used for focused reviews of Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs) for Individuals with Disabilities (IWD) under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The purpose of the more focused reviews is to reduce the burden on contractors by limiting the scope of the review. According to the OFCCP, “A focused review is smaller in scale compared to the compliance review that is initiated when a contractor receives the Scheduling Letter/Itemized Listing.” The focused review narrows the focus to about one-half of the information requested on the standard Scheduling Letter/Itemized Listing.
United Parcel Service (UPS) has agreed to settle a nationwide lawsuit filed in 2009 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The settlement agreement will pay $2 million to approximately 70 current and former UPS employees who were alleged victims of disability discrimination. Read the EEOC Press Release issued August 8, 2017.
In the last two years, federal contractors started tracking and reporting the workforce percentage that self-identified as being an Individual with a Disability (IWD). Time and time again, we hear from employers that applicants and current employees are unlikely or uncomfortable providing their disability status as part of the employment process. Employers are consistently reporting low numbers of employees who self-identified as an IWD.
The Office of Management Budget (OMB) has renewed the voluntary self-identification form federal contractors must use to solicit disability status information from applicants and employees. The new form was approved without change and is valid until January 31, 2020. Federal contractors are required to either download the renewed form(s) or update their electronic version(s) of the form to reflect the new OMB approval expiration date.
On December 19, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule updating the guidelines that dictate how employers ensure equal employment opportunity in apprenticeship programs. These updated regulations are intended to help businesses reach larger and more diverse groups of workers, and expand protected bases beyond race, color, religion, national origin, and sex to include disability, age, sexual orientation, and genetic information.
Recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a user-friendly resource document aimed at advising employees and job applicants with mental health conditions of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). During the fiscal year 2016, the EEOC saw a large uptick in the number of discrimination charges based on mental health conditions. EEOC resolved almost 5,000 charges and obtained approximately $20 million for individuals with mental health conditions who were denied employment or reasonable accommodation.
It is time to wrap up 2016 and put a bow around it. This has been an eventful year for many reasons—one of which was the impact of increased pressure on federal contractors and sub-contractors from OFCCP. Many of you have Affirmative Action Programs (AAP) that are effective January 1, 2017. As you wrap up 2016 here are some issues to keep in mind: