The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently published guidelines clarifying expectations for interactions between OFCCP and companies doing business with the federal government, contractors and subcontractors.
Among other things, OFCCP recommitted to timely and efficient progress of compliance evaluations, reasonable opportunities to discuss compliance evaluation concerns, and opportunities to provide feedback on the quality of the agency’s compliance assistance offerings.
Specifically, OFCCP guidelines, entitled “What Federal Contractors Can Expect,” outline the following expectations for contractors:
- Access to accurate compliance-assistance material informing them of their legal obligations and how contractors can voluntarily comply with these obligations.
- Timely responses to compliance-assistance questions within three to four business days.
- Opportunities to submit feedback on the agency’s compliance assistance offerings and contribute to the development of new compliance-assistance material, contractor training, and other matters
- Professional conduct by OFCCP’s compliance staff, including prompt and accurate information during compliance evaluations and complaint investigations.
- Neutral scheduling of compliance evaluations to identify contractors for compliance evaluations.
- Opportunities to Discuss Compliance Evaluation Concerns that may affect the progress or results of their compliance evaluation or complaint investigation.
- Timely and efficient progress of compliance evaluations, including written notice that OFCCP scheduled them for a compliance evaluation, a list of information is being requested and production timelines for subsequent document production requests.
- Confidentiality of information provided during a compliance evaluation.
The guidelines now prohibit contractors and subcontractors from discriminating against applicants or employees because they inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations.
These new provisions are an addition to the OFCCP’s three current equal employment opportunity laws that make it illegal for contractors and subcontractors to discriminate in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. Specifically, the OFCCP enforces:
- Executive Order 11246, as amended;
- Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 793; and
- Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended, 38 U.S.C. 4212.
Equal employment opportunity and protection of religious freedom
In addition to the guidelines, the OFCCP also announced two new policy directives focused on ensuring equal employment opportunity and religious freedom.
The equal employment opportunity directive calls for more comprehensive reviews of contractor compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws, and the religious freedom directive protects the rights of religion-exercising organizations.
An attorney experienced in assisting federal employees and government contractors with obtaining security clearances can provide more information about the impact of the OFCCP’s guidelines and directives as well as their impact on contractors.
Danel A. Dufresne, Esq. is Senior Counsel in Tully Rinckey PLLC’s Security Clearance Practice Group in San Diego. He assists federal employees, government contractors and military personnel in all stages of obtaining confidential, secret, or top secret clearances.