OFCCP Settles Reasonable Accommodation Claims with Federal Contractor

In March 2017 Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) entered into a conciliation agreement wi...

Posted by Rachel Rubino, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP on April 5 2017
Rachel Rubino, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
shutterstock_216399928.jpgIn March 2017 Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) entered into a conciliation agreement with American Ordnance, LLC to resolve violations of failure to provide reasonable accommodations to Individuals with Disabilities (IWD) at the company’s Middletown, Iowa production facility. While many OFCCP conciliation agreements result from standard compliance reviews, these violations came out of an investigation of a disability complaint filed by an American Ordnance, LLC employee. This initial complaint was expanded by the OFCCP’s Chicago District Office, Midwest Region, to include a class of individuals with disabilities employed at the ammunition manufacturer who were denied accommodations and reinstatement during the review period.

While the conciliation agreement does not detail which job title or type of job was the subject of the investigation, OFCCP alleges that current employees and applicants who could perform the essential functions of the job were prevented from doing so due to the use of a physical agility test qualification standard. The agency contends that American Ordnance, LLC could have provided employees reasonable accommodations to the qualifications standard that would allow those individuals to perform the essential functions of the job, but did not.

The conciliation agreement includes two separate financial remedies for OFCCP compliance. First, American Ordnance, LLC will provide a make whole monetary payment of $44,433.36 to the main complainant, to include back pay, interest, and a damage award. Second, American Ordnance, LLC will make a relief remedy payment of $5,566.64 in back pay and interest to a class member whose disability was not accommodated by American Ordnance, LLC.

From a non-monetary standpoint, American Ordnance, LLC has agreed to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified IWD in all aspects of employment, to inform all employees how to request a reasonable accommodation, and to engage each person requesting accommodation in an interactive process. The contractor will also audit and evaluate its reasonable accommodations procedures, and provide training on reasonable accommodation and equal opportunity requirements to supervisory and management employees at the Middletown, Iowa facility.

This settlement should serve as a reminder to federal contractors that OFCCP audits can be triggered by an individual complaint, and not just OFCCP’s standard Federal Contractor Selection System. This settlement also highlights the potential risk involved with using tests and assessments when evaluating employees and applicants. Tests and assessments should be specifically validated with relation to the job that they are being used for, not just generally validated by the company selling them. Additionally, as this this case shows, contractors should remember they have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities during tests or assessments. Lastly, contractors should be cautious when defining the essential functions of a job. In addition to a written job description, government agencies will review the actual work experience of employees in the job, the time spent performing each function, and the consequences of not requiring an employee to perform a function when evaluating if any job requirement is an essential function.

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Rachel Rubino, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Rachel Rubino, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
As Berkshire’s Director of Audit & HR Services, Lynn manages Berkshire’s Pay Equity, HR Services and Audit Defense practices. With 25 years of experience in the EEO and affirmative action space -- including nearly eight years working as a former senior official at the EEOC and OFFCP -- Lynn brings a unique blend of regulatory knowledge and practical compliance expertise to every project she oversees.

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