Broadcasters should be aware of the possibility of accepting government advertising and inadvertently becoming a federal contractor or subcontractor. Broadcasters that directly or indirectly contract with the federal government may be subject to requirements imposed by an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor requirements, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Broadcasters commonly become federal subcontractors by contracting with an advertising agency that contracts with the federal government to create anti-drug messages, promote responsible alcohol use, or recruit for the U.S. military. In addition, broadcasters that list services on the GSA Schedule or otherwise enter into a contract with a federal agency can become a government contractor.

Although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) already requires that broadcasters comply with Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations, these FCC obligations are less stringent than OFCCP requirements. The FCC rules prohibit broadcasters from engaging in employment discrimination, and require station employment units with five or more full-time employees to comply with the FCC's EEO obligations. Broadcasters must widely disseminate information concerning full-time vacancies, provide notice of each full-time vacancy to recruitment organizations that request notice, and complete additional recruitment initiatives from a menu of 16 different recruitment activities. Broadcasters must also retain documentation to verify compliance with outreach efforts and file periodic reports to the FCC. The FCC conducts random audits to monitor compliance with EEO rules.

In addition to complying with the FCC's EEO mandates, broadcasters that are also federal contractors must comply with affirmative action obligations. The OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 503) (29 U.S.C. § 793), and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) (38 U.S.C. § 412), all of which include affirmative action provisions. Broadcasters need to be aware of two threshold categories for federal contractors for each provision: (1) The Basic Coverage Threshold, and (2) The Affirmative Action Plan Threshold. All three laws also impose record-keeping obligations on certain federal contractors and subcontractors. OFCCP conducts compliance reviews to determine whether contractors are meeting their equal opportunity and affirmative action obligations.

Executive Order 11246 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The basic coverage threshold for Executive Order 11246 applies to contractors or subcontractors with federal contracts in excess of $10,000. Contractors that fall under basic coverage must include seven equal opportunity clauses in each of their contracts and subcontracts and include a statement on all of their employment advertisement indicating that they are an equal opportunity employer. Contractors also must display a special equal employment opportunity poster. If a contractor has 50 or more employees and contracts for $50,000 or more, the requirements are even more stringent. These larger contractors must develop a written affirmative action program for each of their establishments—not just the location with the contract. Executive Order 11246 affirmative action plans must contain both a narrative and statistical analysis, including identification and analysis of problem areas, action-oriented programs to correct problem areas, and periodic internal audits to assess the effectiveness of the affirmative action program.

Similarly, Section 503 requires contractors to take affirmative action for qualified disabled individuals. The basic coverage threshold applies to federal contractors and subcontractors with government contracts in excess of $10,000. Covered contractors must include six affirmative action clauses in each of their contracts and subcontracts, and conspicuously post and make available a disability posting. Section 503's affirmative action plan threshold applies to contractors with 50 or more employees and a contract for $50,000 or more. Section 503 affirmative action plans must include narrative sections discussing the contractor's equal opportunity policy, periodic review of physical and mental job qualifications, reasonable accommodation efforts, anti-harassment procedures, and appropriate dissemination of policy, outreach, and positive recruitment efforts. The plans must also include internal dissemination of affirmative action policies, an audit and reporting system that measures the effectiveness of the affirmative action plan, designation of an official who has the responsibility of implementing the affirmative action plan, and training for all personnel involved in recruitment, screening, selection, promotion, discipline, and other related processes. Federal contractors must invite individuals to self-identify whether they are protected by Section 503.

Likewise, VEVRAA requires contractors to take affirmative action to employ and advance special disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era, and veterans who served on active duty in certain military operations. VEVRAA's basic threshold coverage applies to federal contractors and subcontractors with a contract for $25,000 or more. Covered contractors must include 11 equal opportunity clauses in each of their contracts and subcontracts. In a new development effective July 1, 2007 (See June 2007 Workplace Trends), contractors must also provide notice of employment vacancies with the state employment security agency where the opening occurs. Hyperlinks to state job banks can be found at http://careeronestop.org/ajbprsjbl. The affirmative action plan threshold applies to contractors with 50 or more employees and a contract for $50,000 or more. VEVRAA affirmative action plans must include the same narrative sections described above for Section 503 affirmative action plans. Federal contractors must also invite individuals to self-identify whether they are veterans covered by VEVRAA protections.

Broadcasters with contracts that meet minimum threshold requirements must comply with OFCCP equal opportunity and affirmative action obligations, which can be expensive and time consuming—especially if the contractor is audited by the OFCCP. The federal contractor obligations can open up an entire network of commonly owned stations to the stricter OFCCP requirements, even if only one station contracts with the federal government.