In addition to your nondiscrimination requirements as a Federal contractor or subcontractor, you may also have the responsibility to take proactive “affirmative action” steps to recruit and advance qualified minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and protected veterans. Whether or not your business is covered by these requirements depends on the type and dollar value of the Federal contract(s) or subcontract(s) you have, as well as the number of people you employ. You must develop an affirmative action program (AAP) if you have 50 or more employees and at least one contract of $50,000 or more, under Executive Order 11246 and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. You must also have an AAP under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) if you have 50 or more employees and at least one contract of $150,000 or more.

Please note that, as detailed below, construction contractors have different affirmative action requirements.

Non-Construction Contract Requirements

Non-construction or “supply and service” contractors or subcontractors must develop one or more written AAPs, depending on whether your business meets the above thresholds for one or more of Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) laws.

When you’re subject to the affirmative action requirements above, you also have administrative and reporting requirements under each of the respective laws. These requirements include:

  • Maintaining additional personnel and employment records;
  • setting recruitment and placement goals;
  • inviting applicants and employees to voluntarily self-identify race and gender, and, when applicable, disability and veteran status; and
  • reporting data on the demographic breakdown of applicants and employees.

Construction Contract Requirements

There are two types of construction contracts: direct Federal construction contracts and Federally assisted construction contracts. Under Executive Order 11246, neither type is required to develop a written AAP, regardless of contract value or number of employees. However, if you have Federal or Federally assisted construction contracts or subcontracts of $10,000 or more, the regulations require you to follow these 16 affirmative action steps:

  1. Ensure and maintain a harassment-free working environment at all sites and facilities.
  2. Establish and maintain a current list of minority and female recruitment sources, provide notices when opportunities are available, and maintain response records.
  3. Maintain files on minority and female applicants and referrals, and document actions taken.
  4. Provide written notices when the union impedes your efforts to meet your obligations under the law.
  5. Develop on-the-job training opportunities and/or participate in training programs for the area which specifically include minorities and women.
  6. Send out your equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy to unions and training programs and ask for their cooperation. Additionally, include it in company communications, manuals and reports, and post it in workplaces where employees can see it.
  7. Review your EEO policy and affirmative action obligations on a yearly basis with your employees who are managers and who are responsible for hiring, firing, and other employment decisions.
  8. Include your EEO policy when advertising and when providing notices to or in discussions with other contractors or subcontractors with which you either currently do or hope to do business.
  9. Target your recruitment efforts towards minority and female candidates in organizations, schools, and trainings programs in your area. Describe the openings, screening procedures, and tests to be used in the selection process.
  10. Encourage your current minority and female employees to recruit other minority persons and women and, where reasonable, provide after school, summer and vacation employment to minority and female youth.
  11. Validate all tests and other selection requirements where there is an obligation to do so under the law.
  12. Conduct, at least annually, a review of all minority and female employees for promotional opportunities and encourage them to seek or prepare for such opportunities.
  13. Monitor personnel- and employ-employment related activities to ensure that seniority practices, job classifications, work assignments and other personnel practices do not have a discriminatory effect.
  14. Ensure that all facilities and company activities are nonsegregated, except that separate or single-user toilet and necessary changing facilities shall be provided to assure privacy between the sexes.
  15. Keep records of all solicitations of offers for subcontracts from minority and female construction contractors and suppliers, including circulation of solicitations to minority and female contractor associations and other business associations.
  16. Conduct a review, at least annually, of all supervisors’ adherence to and performance under your EEO policies and affirmative action obligations.

Additionally, while the AAP requirements under Section 503 and VEVRAA don’t apply to Federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, they do apply to direct Federal construction contractors and subcontractors. If you hold direct Federal construction contracts or subcontracts and meet the appropriate thresholds as detailed above, you would need to develop AAPs under one or both of those programs.

Questions? We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your responsibilities as an employer. Many questions about your responsibilities may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors:

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