A number of Ohio businesses and contractors were recently puzzled by a memo they received by the Department of Administrative Services ("DAS") asking them to complete an Affirmative Action Verification Form. The DAS memo reminds readers that all contractors and vendors that do business with the state or a political subdivision must maintain and file an affirmative action plan. And the memo cautions that bidders can be rejected as non-responsive if a plan is not filed at the time of bid is being awarded.

While most Ohio businesses have an affirmative action plan, few are familiar with this requirement. Companies that have being doing business with the state for years were curious about this new requirement and why it was being imposed in the middle of a contract term.

Actually, the requirement is not new, but DAS has recently increased its efforts to assure compliance by state contractors. Ohio Revised Code Section 125.111 requires that: "All contractors from whom the state or any of its political subdivisions make purchases shall have a written affirmative action program for the employment and effective utilization of economically disadvantaged persons." Further, each vendor must file and maintain a description of its affirmative action program with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office at DAS.

Compliance with the law is not difficult, although companies should be careful that their plans and policies are in good order and are legally defensible. The DAS website provides an easy-to-use Affirmative Action Program Verification Form. A company's existing affirmative action program and equal opportunity statement can be inserted into the form and submitted electronically.

In the alternative, a company may adopt the State of Ohio program and policy. However, companies are cautioned to carefully review any policy they submit and consult legal counsel if there are any questions. Affirmative action plans and equal opportunity statements become a public record once filed. Moreover, a company's affirmative action program is subject to audit by the Equal Opportunity Division.