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Takeaways for College, University, and K-12 Leaders from Recent Harvard Race Discrimination Decision

On October 1, a federal trial court in Massachusetts upheld Harvard University’s use of race in its admissions process against a challenge that the policy discriminates against Asian-American students on the basis of race. The decision followed a long line of U.S. Supreme Court cases holding that colleges and universities may use race as a “plus factor” among many in admissions decisions.

Federal Court in Massachusetts Finds Race May Be an Admission Factor

Executive Summary: The long-awaited decision from a federal judge in Massachusetts was released on September 30, 2019 finding Harvard College’s admissions policy, where in race is considered a limited factor when admitting applicants, is constitutional. On September 30, 2019, Federal District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs held that Harvard’s admission policy passed constitutional muster because it serves a compelling, permissible and substantial interest in increasing and maintaining student diversity, and the admissions program is narrowly tailored to that purpose.

OFCCP Posts Long-Awaited Technical Assistance Guide for Educational Institutions

On October 11, 2019, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published to its website the long-awaited Educational Institutions Technical Assistance Guide (TAG). According to OFCCP, the 80-page TAG, “provides a general overview of contractor obligations specific to Educational Institutions under the equal employment opportunity laws enforced by OFCCP” and can be used “as a self-assessment tool” for educational institutions “to create, review, and update their affirmative action programs.”

OFCCP Seeks to Tweak Disability Self-Identification Form

At a time when the Agency has begun embarking on Section 503 Focused Reviews, OFCCP continues work to prevent discrimination for individuals with disabilities. Last week, as national disability awareness month began, OFCCP quietly published a request to tweak its prescribed disability self-identification form. The revisions seek to streamline the form and provide additional guidance to applicants and employees asked to complete the form seemingly in the hopes of increasing participation.

OFCCP Seeks Comments on Proposed Changes to Disability Self-Identification Form

On October 3, 2019, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published a notice in the Federal Register proposing changes to the required voluntary self-identification form that all federal contractors and subcontractors use when soliciting disability status from applicants and employees. The current form expires in January of 2020.

GAO Assesses OFCCP Progress, Agency’s Impending Request To Collect Contractors’ Annual AAPs

Since the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued its Recommendations to Strengthen the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ Oversight of Federal Contractors’ Nondiscrimination Compliance in July 2016, OFCCP has taken steps to implement its recommendations. And now, the GAO has issued a progress report evaluating OFCCP’s actions toward the 2016 recommendations.

Physical Ability Tests in Focus: Understanding and Validating Testing Procedures

Pre- and post-job offer physical ability tests (PATs) continue to face challenges from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and occasionally private litigants.

OFCCP Releases FAQs for Campus-Type Environments

Avid readers have seen that OFCCP has been busy this summer. In August alone, the Agency attended the 2019 ILG National Conference in Milwaukee, issued FAQs on student workers, proposed a new rule regarding religious exemptions, introduced a new Ombudsperson, opened a contractor assistance portal and issued multiple technical assistance guides. But, OFCCP is not content merely coasting through the end of its fiscal year (on September 30).

OFCCP Offers Section 503 Technical Assistance and Extends Deadline for Disability Inclusion Recognition Program

As the Agency is ramping up its enforcement efforts on behalf of individuals with disabilities, OFCCP is offering another form of technical assistance to contractors. On September 11, 2019 OFCCP will be hosting a Section 503 Focused Review webinar during with the agency will touch upon:

OFCCP Announces Proposed Rule on Religious Exemption for Federal Contractors

On August 15, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) focused on clarifying the civil rights protections for religious organizations that have federal contracts. Keeping with the Trump administration’s policy to enforce the religious freedom found in federal law, the proposed rule is intended to provide the broadest protection of religious rights recognized under the U.S. Constitution and other laws, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It does not, however, exempt federal contractors from adhering to other required affirmative action obligations.
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