WASHINGTON, D.C. | September 20, 2013 -
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) have requested information on two rules finalized by the Department of Labor affecting the nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements of federal contractors. Additionally, Chairman Walberg has invited Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) Director Patricia Shiu to testify at a subcommittee hearing scheduled for Wednesday, October 2nd at 10 a.m. in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
“Federal contractors have a moral and legal obligation to ensure employment discrimination is not tolerated in the workplace,” said Rep. Walberg. “Unfortunately, regulations that are supposed to prevent discriminatory hiring practices by federal contractors are broken. A human resources professional from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital said it best: ‘It’s all stick and no carrot.’ I’m disappointed to see the Labor Department make an already flawed regulatory scheme worse. Quotas and more paperwork will do more to promote costly litigation than the hiring of our nation’s most vulnerable workers.”
OFCCP enforces various nondiscrimination and affirmative action hiring policies affecting federal contractors, such as the Rehabilitation Act covering individuals with disabilities and the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act on behalf of covered veterans. On August 27, OFCCP finalized two rules that impose sweeping changes to these long standing policies. The rules create significant administrative burdens by requiring contractors to conduct extensive analyses on their recruitment and hiring of veterans and individuals with disabilities.
Additionally, federal contractors are required to hire a certain percent of covered veterans, as well as ensure seven percent of each job group in their workforce includes disabled individuals. While the department has stressed these are merely goals, employers may lose their federal contracts if they fail to meet the department’s arbitrary requirements. Employers will be forced to ask job applicants to self-identify whether they have a disability, despite a clear prohibition against doing so in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To better understand the basis for the final regulations, Chairman Kline and Rep. Walberg request:
- All documents and communications outlining the department’s belief it has the statutory authority to establish numerical hiring standards;
- All documents and communications outlining the department’s belief it has the statutory authority to require contractors to ask job applicants to self-identify as a qualified individual with a disability, including all documents and communications with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding the legality of asking disability-related questions in light of the statutory prohibition in the Americans with Disabilities Act;
- All documents and communications relating to the department’s decision to publicly release the final regulations in draft form before their publication in the Federal Register;
- All documents and communications relating to the department’s decision to publicly release the final regulations in draft form before their publication in the Federal Register; and
- A list of the inconsistencies, if any, between the draft final regulations and the versions to be published in the Federal Register, and an explanation of the inconsistencies between the draft regulations and the final versions.
To read the letter, click here.
More information about the hearing will be available here.
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