OFCCP Proposed Revision of Disability Policy

Although HR Policy and its members strongly support affirmative action and the goal of including qualified individuals with disabilities in the workforces of government contractors, the Association strongly disagrees with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) proposed rule that would fundamentally alter the federal government’s approach to affirmative action and have a substantial impact not only on employers but on the workforce at large.  Today, employers focus their recruitment and application process on the abilities of employees and applicants insofar as they match the employer’s needs for the skills and talents necessary for the development and delivery of the company’s products and services.  OFCCP’s proposed rule would have employers focus on the disabilities of employees and applicants.  This fundamental change in the nation’s employment policies leads to what our members view as not only highly inappropriate, but also unlawful lines of inquiries. The OFCCP is proposing that employers be required to ask employees and job applicants whether they have any disabilities, which would then inevitably lead to a discussion of what those disabilities might be, and the extent of any disabilities. We believe the framers of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifically prohibited employers from making such inquiries.  Moreover, despite more than ten years of various hiring initiatives focused on individuals with disabilities, a recent report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shows that the federal government would not meet the seven percent hiring goal it has proposed for the private sector or even its own two percent goal for targeted disabilities.  This failure by the federal government to meet its own goals lends credence to the argument that such goals would be impossible to implement in the private sector.  The results of the February 2012 membership survey show that most members will treat OFCCP’s proposed “goal” as a quota and demonstrates the difficulty and cost that large employers would face in implementing the proposed changes.  Despite OFCCP’s insistence that the seven percent goal is just a “benchmark” and not a “quota,” 82 percent responded that they believe OFCCP’s seven percent “goal” is either a quota or would treat it as such.