Last Week, OFCCP Director Craig Leen and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (“ODEP”) Jennifer Sheehy, joined with the National Industry Liaison Group to discuss disability and inclusion.

With 500 Section 503 Focused Reviews on OFCCP’s March 2019 CSAL list, the timing was perfect to hear directly from the OFCCP Director on his expectations from contractors on disability and inclusion issues.

Before diving into Section 503 Focused Reviews, Director Leen started the presentation off by reconfirming his commitment to improving OFCCP’s relationship with the contracting community through the 4 principles announced last year: Transparency, Certainty, Efficiency, and Recognition.

The primary focus of the webinar was, of course, Section 503 Focused Reviews and assistance available from ODEP for employers seeking to improve their disability and inclusion programs. Director Leen said he wants to emphasize more compliance assistance and other programs, rather than enforcement, to achieve the Agency’s disability and inclusion goals,mentioning the Agency’s LEAD (Leadership in Equal Access and Diversity Award) and Excellence in Disability and Inclusion Award programs.

Citing the low labor participation rate for individuals with disabilities compared to the general population and the large disability wage gap, Director Leen confirmed there will be Section 503 Focused Reviews in every OFCCP CSAL list moving forward.

Director Leen also previewed what turned out to be the Agency’s imminent publication in the Federal Register of a proposed Section 503 Focused Review Scheduling Letter which would allow OFCCP to analyze personnel activity and compensation data for individuals with disabilities. On April 12th, OFCCP also posted in the Federal Register revised Scheduling Letters for Compliance Checks and Establishment Reviews each to include additional required data requirements under VEVRAA and Section 503.

To prepare for a Section 503 Focused Review, Director Leen encouraged contractors to visit OFCCP’s Section 503 Resource Page as well as engage with ODEP to put into place best practices.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Sheehy described the services ODEP can provide to companies to ensure they are meeting the best practices Director Leen articulated including ODEP’s Job Accommodation Network and the AskEarn program, which provides support and assistance to employers.

It is clear Section 503 compliance is both a passion and a priority for Director Leen and, as a result, an enforcement priority for the agency, as reflected in the proposed changes to the scheduling letters. It is imperative you are prepared if you’ve been selected for a Section 503 Focused Review.