Monday, February 27, 2012
AAAA Comments on the OFCCP's Proposed Sec. 503 Regulations
The American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) submitted comments to the Department of Labor, OFCCP regarding its proposed regulations related to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The Association applauded OFCCP’s efforts to remove barriers to those in the disabled community and strengthen employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and agreed that one of the primary tools for effectuating change in private employment is through the affirmative action obligations affecting government contractors and subcontractors. This has been the intent behind Section of 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its implementing regulations since their inception. We also agreed that the regulations, in their current form, do not seem to have produced significant, measurable improvement in employment opportunities for disabled individuals. Moreover, on a purely practical level, the regulations need to be updated to reflect the ADA Amendments Act.
Despite the Association’s agreement with the principles supporting OFCCP’s efforts, AAAA has serious concerns with the revised regulations as proposed. Most importantly, AAAA fears that in its efforts to strengthen the regulations governing affirmative action for individuals with disabilities, the Agency will be viewed as overreaching. AAAA also believes that OFCCP has grossly underestimated the time and resources that the contractor community would need to dedicate to implementing these changes. Underestimating the burden associated with these changes will create objections from those in the contractor community who would support OFCCP’s efforts but for this significant, additional burden.
AAAA provided a detailed examination of various sections of the proposed regulations and, where feasible, offered possible alternatives that address the Association’s concerns. In particular, the association analyzed the burden suggested by the agency and argued that OFCCP had grossly underestimated the time needed to comply with the proposed regulations. In the areas of applicant/employee self-identification, data collection analysis, and the assessment of outreach efforts, the time estimated was far less than the reality would suggest.
The 7% percent utilization goal, while commendable, raises other questions as well. AAAA questioned how the agency derived the goal and how it plans to implement the requirement. AAAA also does not support sub-goals for certain disabilities in light of the dearth of data to support such goals.
AAAA thanks Matthew Camardella, AAAA General Counsel, and the Jackson Lewis law firm, for their assistance in the preparation of these comments.
For a copy of the AAAA Comments, email the AAAA National Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.