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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.

OFCCP Proposes New Rule to “Ensure Religious Employers are Protected”

As previewed in the Spring regulatory agenda, the Office of Federal Compliance Contract Programs (OFCCP) has proposed a new rule to clarify aspects of a religious exemption available to federal contractors. In the proposed rule, the agency said it intends to address concerns from religious organizations that ambiguity in the exemption left them reluctant to participate in federal contracts.

OFCCP’s Busy Friday: A New Ombudsman and Contractor Assistance Portal

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced on Friday, August 9, 2019, the appointment of Marcus Stergio to fill the ombudsman role in the agency’s national office. Stergio has varied experienced in dispute resolution and holds both a master’s degree in conflict resolution from the University of Massachusetts Boston and participated in Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation. Stergio’s role with the agency is to facilitate the resolution of disputes raised by contractors and other stakeholders, in conjunction with regional and district OFCCP offices.

OFCCP Introduces Ombudsman and Online Contractor Assistance Portal

Though we may be in the height of summer, there is no slowing down for OFCCP. Following last week’s ILG National Conference, OFCCP has continued to release additional guidance and assistance for contractors. Most recently, OFCCP has introduced its Ombudsperson and unveiled a Contractor Assistance Portal.

OFCCP Releases New Technical Assistance Guides

Under the leadership of Craig Leen, OFCCP has made a renewed commitment to providing technical assistance to contractors. True to their word, and in furtherance of its Town Hall Action Plan, OFCCP announced on Friday the release of a number of new technical assistance guides (TAGs), with more on the way. Interestingly, Director Leen did not make any formal announcement of their upcoming release during last week’s ILG National Conference.

OFCCP Drops Its New Compliance Assistance Guides

On August 2, 2019, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced the release of its new compliance assistance guides. Among the new guides are:

Opening Day of the 2019 ILG National Conference

The 2019 ILG National Conference being held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has officially begun.

OFCCP Issues Opinion Letter on Whether Pre-Approved Pay Analysis Groupings Will be Accepted in Future Audits

On July 22, 2019, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued its second Opinion Letter since November 30, 2018, when Directive 2019-03 announced the agency’s intent to begin delivering such guidance to the contractor community. OFCCP’s July 22 Opinion Letter provides guidance as to whether contractors can collaborate with the agency to develop Pay Analysis Groupings (PAG) that OFCCP would then accept as valid for use in future compliance evaluations.

OFCCP Issues FAQ Guidance on Selection Tools, Practical Significance, and Independent Contractors

The U.S. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released two new FAQs this week. The new guidance documents address three topics: validation of tests used by contractors when selecting workers for employment, OFCCP's use of “practical significance” during compliance evaluations, and how contractors can determine whether to include project-based or freelance workers in their affirmative action programs (AAPs).

OFCCP Rolls Out Changes to its Functional Affirmative Action Plan Program

Functional affirmative action plans (FAAPs) are not new. While the regulations require AAPs be prepared on an establishment-basis, OFCCP has permitted contractors to structure their AAPs by “function” or “business unit” – with Agency approval.