If your construction contracting company works with the federal government, you are probably aware of the complexity of regulations that you must follow. One of them is ensuring that you do not discriminate against people with disabilities.
Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities.
It requires employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain people with disabilities who can perform the job safely and productively.
The idea behind affirmative action for those with disabilities is to improve job opportunities for these individuals.
Compliance is not dependent on strict adherence. It’s dependent upon your attempts to achieve the desired results. It’s up to you and your company to ensure you consistently make a good faith effort to fulfill anti-discriminatory practices against the disabled.
Supreme Court Affirms the Rules for the Disabled
In June 2015, the Supreme Court declined to review a case that challenged the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s (OFCCP) final rules.
The OFCCP requires all federal contractors to implement new affirmative action obligations for individuals with disabilities.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, there are several things your business must do to maintain compliance. This is by no means exhaustive and you should consult a labor attorney to ensure you are in compliance:
- Review and revise their employment policies, including their equal employment opportunity (EEO) clause, to provide that the contractor will “employ and advance in employment individuals with disabilities, and treat qualified individuals without discrimination on the basis of their physical or mental disabilities.”
- Revise solicitations and advertisements to state that the company is an equal opportunity employer of individuals with disabilities.
- Revise hiring qualification standards to incorporate ADAAA’s specific prohibition on the use of qualification standards, employment tests or other selection criteria that are “based on an individual’s uncorrected vision” unless the standard, test or other selection criteria is “shown to be job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.”
- Revise compensation policies to make it impermissible for the company to reduce compensation provided to an individual with a disability because of the actual or anticipated cost of a reasonable accommodation the individual needs or may request.
- Invite all of the company’s employees to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with a disability using the OFCCP’s self-identification form at least once every five years.
- Provide necessary reasonable accommodation to ensure applicants and employees with disabilities receive equal employment opportunity in the operation of personnel processes.
- Establish an aspirational utilization goal of seven percent to hire qualified individuals with disabilities.
The OFCCP actively audits and enforces regulations. If your business does more than $50,000 in contracts with the federal government you should ensure you’re in compliance with Section 503.