Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today criticized two final rules from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) that drastically alter federal contractors’ existing affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations for veterans and individuals with disabilities.
“Despite OFCCP’s inability to demonstrate federal construction contractors’ failure to meet requirements under existing federal law, the new rules contain numerous burdensome data collection and reporting provisions and set infeasible compliance requirements,” said Geoff Burr, ABC Vice President of Government Affairs. “Although industry studies show that the individuals covered by these rules are already appropriately represented in the federal contracting sector, now contractors will be saddled with incredibly expensive recordkeeping obligations that will do nothing to increase employment of these individuals.”
Under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 4212 of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, federal contractors and subcontractors are already required to maintain affirmative action and nondiscrimination programs. However, OFCCP’s new rules revise existing procedures by drastically increasing the paperwork burdens on federal contractors in all industries.
Of most concern to construction contractors are provisions requiring written documentation and tracking of workforce statistics to determine whether the percentage of protected employees meets affirmative action requirements for federal projects. Such paperwork and reporting provisions are completely new to the construction industry — a fact that was not taken into account in OFCCP cost estimates.
“Under these rules, OFCCP completely ignored the unique nature of the construction industry and its workforce, which the agency itself has characterized as ‘fluid’ and ‘transitory,’ and which has historically warranted a unique approach toward affirmative action compliance,” Burr said.
“ABC supports OFCCP’s statutory mission to address employment discrimination against veterans and individuals with disabilities, and remains committed to placing these individuals in good construction jobs,” Burr said. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration appears to be more concerned with imposing new and costly burdens on federal contractors than with crafting reasonable policies based on sound statistics and data.
“ABC has serious legal and practical concerns with the agency’s new rules, and will explore avenues to challenge the rules in federal court,” said Burr.
To view the final rule on the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, click here.
To view the final rule on the Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, click here.