New regulations from the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) took effect on March 24, impacting contracts between federal contractors and subcontractors. The new regulations pertain to equal employment opportunity and affirmative action requirements with respect to certain categories of protected veterans and qualified individuals with disabilities under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, respectively. Although the “bold” new requirement alluded to in the title of this post is really not bold per se, under the new regulations, a federal contractor may be required to include specific contract language, in bold text, in its contracts with subcontractors (e.g., vendors and suppliers).
Prior to these new regulations, applicable federal contractors were required to include equal opportunity clause(s) in their subcontracts, and this requirement could be satisfied merely by incorporating the applicable regulation(s) by reference. Under the new VEVRAA and section 503 regulations, specific text must also appear in bold immediately following the cited regulations. OFCCP permits a single, consolidated “incorporation by reference” equal opportunity clause, which must also appear in bold and preserve the prescribed content. An example of a consolidation provided by the OFCCP is set forth below:
This contractor and subcontractor shall abide by the requirements of 41 CFR 60-300.5(a) and 60-741.5(a). These regulations prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of protected veteran status or disability, and require affirmative action by covered prime contractors and subcontractors to employ and advance in employment qualified protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.
Although the equal opportunity clauses are considered a part of every applicable contract by operation of law, federal contractors should be mindful of the contract language requirements set forth in the new regulations, which are separate and distinct requirements.