OFCCP provides the following synopsis of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended:
Any contract in excess of $10,000 entered into by any Federal department or agency for the procurement of personal property and nonpersonal services (including construction) for the United States shall contain a provision requiring that the party contracting with the United States shall take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities.
OFCCP is increasingly enforcing federal contractors’ obligation to take good faith outreach efforts to individuals with disabilities. Some online resources for recruiting individuals with disabilities and advancing them in employment are:
- DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy
- Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN)
Employers should also make reasonable accommodations for individuals that request them and keep records of accommodations that have been made.
Ensuring the Accessibility of Online Application Systems
In the wake of its Internet Applicant rule, OFCCP released an initiative titled “Ensuring the Accessibility of Online Application Systems.” Since many employers transitioned to the Internet as their primary, or only, means of accepting applications, OFCCP implemented this initiative to ensure that applicants with disabilities are afforded their equal opportunity rights in the hiring process.
Federal contractors should strive to make their online systems as interoperable as possible for those job seekers using assistive technologies. Additionally, employers should be ready and willing to make reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities during the application process. For many companies, the first step in doing this is to post a disclaimer at the beginning of their online application systems. This is an example of one provided by an OFCCP compliance officer:
“If you are an individual with a disability and require a reasonable accommodation to complete any part of the application process, or are limited in the ability or unable to access or use this online application process and need an alternative method for applying, you may contact [phone number] or [e-mail address] for assistance.”
If voice-mail boxes are being used as an avenue to request an accommodation, it is imperative that they are checked on a frequent and regular basis.