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OFCCP Sets Sights On Disabled Workers

Monday, April 2, 2012
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Federal contractors and subcontractors beware: The Department of Labor is taking aim at your effectiveness in hiring individuals with disabilities.

Proposed rules from the agency's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs would "obligate" federal contractors to "ensure equal employment opportunities for qualified workers with disabilities."

Under the proposed regulations, the OFCCP would require companies with federal contracts to set a goal of having people with disabilities make up 7 percent of their workforce, and comply with new recordkeeping and reporting rules.

Experts say federal contractors and subcontractors would be wise to revisit their practices and systems now, even before the final regs are released.

While the 7-percent goal isn't enforceable, experts say, it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine the DOL being more diligent in auditing businesses that don't reach that percentage.

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Fortunately, says Constantinos G. Panagopoulos, a partner with Ballard Spahr in Washington, many federal contractors already have a framework in place for tracking and reporting this data, because they already collect and retain demographic data such as race.

Debra Steiner Friedman, a partner with Cozen O'Connor in Philadelphia, says the rule will present a challenge for many employers, but she notes that none of the regulations change the premise that employers should hire qualified workers.

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