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The Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) enforces the Executive Order 11246, as amended; Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and the affirmative action provisions (Section 4212) of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act, as amended. Taken together, these laws ban discrimination and require federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to ensure that all individuals have an equal opportunity for employment, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or status as a Vietnam era or special disabled veteran.
B. Operation of the Executive Order Program – The EEO Clause
Each contracting agency in the Executive Branch of government must include the equal opportunity clause in each of its nonexempt government contracts. The equal opportunity clause requires that the contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, and Hispanic individuals are considered minorities for purposes of the Executive Order. This clause makes equal employment opportunity and affirmative action integral elements of a contractor’s agreement with the government. Failure to comply with the nondiscrimination or affirmative action provisions is a violation of the contract.
A contractor in violation of E.O. 11246 may have its contracts canceled, terminated, or suspended in whole or in part, and the contractor may be debarred, i.e., declared ineligible for future government contracts. However, a contractor cannot be debarred without being afforded the opportunity for a full evidentiary hearing. Debarments may be for an indefinite term or for a fixed term. When an indefinite-term debarment is imposed, the contractor may be reinstated as soon as it has demonstrated that the violations have been remedied. A fixed-term debarment establishes a trial period during which a contractor can demonstrate its commitment and ability to establish personnel practices that are in compliance with the Executive Order.
If a matter is not resolved through conciliation, OFCCP may refer the matter to the Office of the Solicitor of Labor, which is authorized to institute administrative enforcement proceedings. After a full evidentiary hearing, a Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge issues recommended findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommended order. On the basis of the entire record, the Secretary of Labor issues a final Administrative Order. Cases also may be referred to the Department of Justice for judicial enforcement of E.O. 11246, primarily when use of the sanctions authorized by the Order is impracticable, such as a case involving a sole-source supplier.
The regulations implementing the Executive Order establish different affirmative action provisions for non-construction (i.e., service and supply) contractors and for construction contractors.
C. Executive Order Affirmative Action Requirements
i. For Supply and Service Contractors
Non-construction (service and supply) contractors with 50 or more employees and government contracts of $50,000 or more are required, under Executive Order 11246, to develop and implement a written affirmative action program (AAP) for each establishment. The regulations define an AAP as a set of specific and result-oriented procedures to which a contractor commits itself to apply every good-faith effort. The AAP is developed by the contractor (with technical assistance from OFCCP if requested) to assist the contractor in a self-audit of its workforce. The AAP is kept on file and carried out by the contractor; it is submitted to OFCCP only if the agency requests it for the purpose of conducting a compliance review.
The AAP identifies those areas, if any, in the contractor’s workforce that reflect utilization of women and minorities. The regulations at 41 CFR 60-2.11 (b) define under-utilization as having fewer minorities or women in a particular job group than would reasonably be expected by their availability. When determining availability of women and minorities, contractors consider, among other factors, the presence of minorities and women having requisite skills in an area in which the contractor can reasonably recruit.
Based on the utilization analyses under Executive Order 11246 and the availability of qualified individuals, the contractors establish goals to reduce or overcome the under-utilization. Good-faith efforts may include expanded efforts in outreach, recruitment, training and other activities to increase the pool of qualified minorities and females. The actual selection decision is to be made on a nondiscriminatory basis.
ii. For Construction Contractors
OFCCP has established a distinct approach to affirmative action for the construction industry due to the fluid and temporary nature of the construction workforce. In contrast to the service and supply affirmative action program, OFCCP, rather than the contractor, establishes goals and specifies affirmative action which must be undertaken by federal and federally assisted construction contractors. OFCCP issued specific national goals for women: The female goal of 6.9 percent was extended indefinitely in 1980 and remains in effect today. Construction contractors are not required to develop written affirmative action programs. The regulations enumerate the good-faith steps construction contractors must take in order to increase the utilization of minorities and women in the skilled trades.
D. Goals, Timetables, and Good Faith Efforts
The numerical goals are established based on the availability of qualified applicants in the job market or qualified candidates in the employer’s workforce. Executive Order numerical goals do not create set-asides for specific groups, nor are they designed to achieve proportional representation or equal results. Rather, the goal-setting process in affirmative action planning is used to target and measure the effectiveness of affirmative action efforts to eradicate and prevent discrimination. The Executive Order and its supporting regulations do not authorize OFCCP to penalize contractors for not meeting goals. The regulations at 41 CFR 60-2.12(e), 60-2.30 and 60-2.15 specifically prohibit quota and preferential hiring and promotions under the guise of affirmative action numerical goals. In other words, discrimination in the selection decision is prohibited.
Click here to download the full text of the regulations.
Source: US Department of Labor
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