There was a flurry of activity last week as contractors raced to implement the OFCCP's Disability and Veterans regulations that become effective today. We summarize these significant developments in our Roundup.
OFCCP Announces The 2014 Veteran Hiring Benchmark - 7.2%
The OFCCP announced the 2014 benchmark and released a veteran benchmark database to be used by contractors when establishing the annual benchmark for the hiring of protected veterans. While the national labor force data available at the time the final regulations were issued reflected a hiring benchmark of 8%, the newly released data sets the hiring benchmark for veterans at 7.2%. The new Veterans regulations, effective today, require that contractors who meet the requirements for developing an affirmative action program (AAP) also establish a hiring benchmark for protected veterans each year. The OFCCP describes the benchmark as a tool to help contractors assess the effectiveness of their efforts to recruit and employ protected veterans.
As we discussed here, a contractor may establish its hiring benchmark in one of two ways:
Option 1: Adopt the National Percentage of Veterans in the Civilian Labor Force
Contractors may simply adopt the national benchmark based on the percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force. No additional calculation or analysis is required. The OFCCP will update the percentage annually and post it in the Benchmark Database on the agency's Web site. The 2014 hiring benchmark is 7.2%.
Option 2: Develop Individualized Hiring Benchmarks
A contractor may prefer to establish its own individualized benchmark by taking into account the following five factors:
- the average percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force in the state where the contractor is located over the preceding three years, as posted in the Benchmark Database on the OFCCP Web site;
- the number of veterans, over the previous four quarters, who participated in the employment service delivery system (ESDS) in the state where the contractor is located, as posted in the Benchmark Database on the OFCCP Web site;
- the applicant and hiring ratios for the previous year;
- the contractor's recent assessments of the effectiveness of its outreach and recruitment efforts; and
- any other factors, such as the nature of the job or its location, that would affect the availability of qualified protected veterans.
Contractors using this individualized method must document each factor considered and explain the methodology and rationale used to arrive at the benchmark selected.
To assist contractors, OFCCP provides detailed user instructions and examples illustrating how to use the database to set an individualized VEVRAA benchmark. Contractor can access the VEVRAA Benchmark Database through OFCCP's Web site here.
OFCCP Announces New Outreach Resources Directory
On the eve of the effective date of the regulations, the OFCCP also issued a Disability and Veterans Community Resources Directory. The Directory provides contractors with a directory of organizations that are available to provide assistance with training, recruiting, and hiring veterans and individuals with disabilities. The Directory is available here and provides contractors with the ability to search and download the directory by state. The Directory supplements the OFCCP's existing Employment Resources Referral Directory (ERRD) available on the OFCCP Web site.
Court Rejects Challenges To New Section 503 Regulations
Also on the eve of the implementation of the new Disability regulations, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the arguments raised in the Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. v. Patricia A. Shiu lawsuit, which challenged the implementation of the final rule of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, including the OFCCP's authority to issue the regulations. The decision rejects each and every challenge raised and holds that the OFCCP was within its authority to issue the regulations on all points. While an appeal may be filed, the decision can be read as a decisive victory for the OFCCP. A copy of the decision is available here.