A New Disability Resource for Federal Contractors from the EEOC and U.S. DOL
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has partnered with the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Office of Disability Enforcement Policy to release a resource guide about recruitment, hiring, and employment of individuals with disabilities, “Employment Protections Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: 50 Years of Protecting Americans with Disabilities in the Workplace.”
The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability not only by the federal government (Section 501, enforced by the EEOC) but also federal contractors and subcontractors (Section 503, enforced by the OFCCP). Notably, the standards for determining employment discrimination are the same under both Section 503 of the Rehab Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (which applies to all private employers with 15 or more employees).
According to the EEOC’s September 26, 2023 press release, the new resource pulls together information about the Rehab Act (including contractor obligations to develop an affirmative action program for individuals with disabilities), contact information for assistance, and links to agency publications, among other things.
More specifically, the resource includes suggestions for best practices. As to recruitment and hiring, the resource suggests the following:
- Contractors should regularly review their outreach and hiring practices to learn whether certain groups are being excluded, not just from being hired, but from even entering the applicant pool.
- Contractors should consider whether practices such as word‐of‐mouth recruiting, hiring only previous workers when new positions or opportunities for work arise, or picking up day laborers in particular locations are having an adverse impact on hiring.
As to retention and advancement, the resource suggests:
- Contractors should regularly review data related to applicants and hires to assess whether any particular group of applicants is being disproportionately screened out at a certain stage of the process.
- Contractors should also ensure that employees responsible for making hiring, assignment, or promotion decisions are applying the criteria equally to all applicants or candidates.
- Contractors should review their compensation policies to make sure employees are not subject to wage discrimination.