The OFCCP On Fire – Compliance Assistance Guides, Proposed Religious Exemption Rule, and Contractor Assistance Portal
It has been another busy month at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which has issued a dizzying array of new resources for government contractors, as follows:
Compliance Assistance Guides. The OFCCP has posted eight new compliance assistance guides on its website:
- OFCCP At A Glance: Introduces the agency, its mission, the equal employment opportunity laws it enforces, an overview of federal contractor obligations, and workers’ rights.
- What Federal Contractors Can Expect: Provides general expectations that guide interactions between contractors and the OFCCP.
- Postings and Notices Guide & Checklist: Focuses on many of the posting and notice requirements that a contractor must comply with regardless of the size of its workforce.
- Applicant Tracking Guide: Provides definitions for Internet and traditional applicants, identifies applicant records that contractors must keep, and provides other key terms to know.
- Applicant Tracking FAQs: Includes common questions and answers regarding applicants and contractor recordkeeping obligations.
- Section 503 Recordkeeping Guide: Identifies which records must be kept by covered contractors and how long the records must be kept.
- VEVRAA Recordkeeping Guide: Identifies which records must be kept by covered contractors and how long the records must be kept.
- EO 11246 Recordkeeping Guide: Identifies which records must be kept by covered contractors and how long the records must be kept.
In addition, the OFCCP will be posting additional updated guides “soon”: Technical Assistance Guide: Supply & Service; Technical Assistance Guide: Construction; and Technical Assistance Gude: Education. These guides will provide a general overview of contractor obligations in each of these areas.
Proposed Religious Exemption Rule. The OFCCP has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking “intended to clarify the civil rights protections afforded to religious organizations that contract with the federal government” by offering “the broadest protection permitted by law.” Under the proposed rule, “religious organizations may make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government.”
The proposed rule is intended to clarify the scope and application of the religious exemption in light of recent developments, including Supreme Court rulings and Executive Orders. Among other things, it clarifies that, in addition to churches, the exemption covers employers organized for a religious purpose, hold themselves out to the public as carrying out a religious purpose, and engage in exercise of religion consistent with and in furtherance of a religious purpose. Moreover, religious employers may condition employment on compliance with religious tenets, as long as they do not discriminate on other protected bases. This particular provision has caused concern, as some have interpreted it to permit discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.
The proposed rule is open for public comment until September 16, 2019. Comments may be submitted through the Federal Register website. Once the comment period has closed, the OFCCP will review the submissions and then issue a final version of the rule.
Contractor Assistance Portal. The OFCCP launched its new Contractor Assistance Portal, intended to improve compliance assistance and increase transparency. Contractors may use the Portal to ask questions anonymously and receive verified answers, search a database of frequently asked questions, and access reference and compliance assistance materials.