• U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Rule Establishing 7% Disabled Workforce Goal for Government Contractors
  • September 14, 2013 | Author: Marc J. Felezzola
  • Law Firm: Babst Calland - Pittsburgh Office
  • On August 27, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (the “OFCCP”) announced a final rule that makes changes to the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973 ("Section 503"), which prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The new rule establishes for the first time a goal for government contractors to have 7% workforce be comprised of individuals with disabilities. This 7% workforce metric is not intended to serve as a quota or a ceiling for employment of individuals with disabilities, but rather “a management tool that informs decision-making and provides real accountability.” Therefore, the OFCCP has declared that failing to meet the 7% workforce utilization goal is not a violation of the regulation and will not result in a fine, penalty or sanction.

    The new rule also require government contractors to invite job applicants to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with a disability at a pre-offer stage of the hiring process and to invite incumbent employees to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with a disability on a regular basis. Additionally, the rule requires government contractors to maintain several quantitative measurements and data on the number of individuals with disabilities who apply for jobs and the number of individuals with disabilities they hire. These metrics are intended to produce greater accountability for employment decisions and practices. Another new requirement imposed by the rule is that all prime government contractors must include specific language in their subcontracts that informs and alerts subcontractors about their responsibilities regarding employment of individuals with disabilities as Federal Contractors.

    Although the final rule was announced on August 27, 2013, it does not take effect until 180 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The OFCCP expects that publication in the Federal Register will take place sometime within the next two weeks.