Legal

New Rules on Hiring Veterans, Disabled Unnecessary: Report

By Judy Greenwald

Aug. 9, 2012

Proposed regulations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs that would impose new requirements on firms in hiring veterans and the disabled may be unnecessary, suggests a report.

The OFCCP, which is responsible for enforcing the affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations of federal contractors and subcontractors, has proposed regulations intended to strengthen the requirements in hiring veterans who are protected under the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.

It also has proposed a federal rule mandating that federal contractors and subcontractors set a goal of having 7 percent of their workforce be people with disabilities.

A report issued Aug. 1 by the Washington-based Center for Corporate Equality, a human resource organization, said it conducted an “evidence-based analysis” of OFCCP enforcement data related to discrimination charges against protected veterans and disabled individuals.

It said among 285,390 federal contractor and subcontractor establishments, the OFCCP fielded 871 veteran and/or disability complaints between 2004 and June 2012. Of these, 60, or 6.89 percent, resulted in a violation, for an average of 6.67 violations per year.

“Importantly, the vast majority of these 60 settlements were technical violations (e.g. record-keeping) rather than violations indicating systemic discrimination,” says the report.

“Based on analyses of complaint data from 2004 to June 2012, it is estimated less than 0.021 percent of the 285,390 federal contractor establishments are likely to have a finding of discrimination with regard to protected veterans or individuals with disabilities,” the report says.

The report also examined the OFCCP’s compliance evaluations. From 2007 through 2011, OFCCP conducted 22,104 compliance reviews of federal contractor establishments, but found only three cases of alleged discrimination against protected veterans with disabilities or less than 0.1 percent of the total.

“While the data in this report do not prove nor disprove the existence of discrimination against protected veterans and individuals with disabilities, the above results fail to provide the evidence needed to make an evidence-based policy decision such as those proposed in the regulations,” says the report.

“These results suggest that discrimination against protected veterans and individuals with disabilities…may not support the major shift in policy that the proposed regulations would necessitate,” says the report.

Valerie Hoffman, a partner with law firm Seyfarth Shaw L.L.P. in Los Angeles, said the report presents “an accurate presentation of what’s going on currently with contractors.”

“So many federal contractors are doing a very good job reaching out to vets and individuals with disabilities, that there’s a real question as to whether or not oversight, to the extent it’s currently proposed, is necessary,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman said this is especially so because the proposed compliance regulations “require a substantial amount of reporting, documentation, data analysis and other activities.”

Contractors “are already moving in line with the spirit of the proposed regulations without the rather punitive, or at least burdensome, compliance activates required under the proposed regulations,” she said.

A DOL spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Copies of the report are available here.

Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

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