Opportunity to Comment on the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs’ Proposed Regulations Under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act Extended Until February 21, 2012

In our December 2011 Employment Practice Group Newsletter, Leech Tishman reported that the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) issued proposed regulations which, if they become effective, will dramatically change the affirmative action requirements of federal contractors under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Section 503″). The time period for those wishing to comment on OFCCP’s proposed regulations was set to expire on Tuesday, February 7, 2012.  OFCCP had previously rejected contractors’ requests for more time to comment on the proposed regulations; however, in a rare change of position, OFCCP has extended the comment period another 14 days, or until Tuesday, February 21, 2012.

As a reminder, those wishing to comment may submit their comments in one of three ways:

1. Electronically through the federal eRulemaking portal;

2. Via facsimile to: (202) 693-1304 (for comments of six pages or less); or

3. Via mail to: Debra A. Carr, Director, Division of Policy, Planning, and Program Development, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Room C-3325, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210.

Additionally, all comments must contain the proposed rules’ regulatory identification number 1250-AA02.

Don’t forget, one dramatic change under OFCCP’s proposed Section 503 regulations is that federal contractors will be required to set a hiring goal of 7% of their workforce being employees with disabilities. Additionally, OFCCP is considering imposing, within this 7% “utilization goal,” a sub-goal of 2% for individuals with certain “severe disabilities.” OFCCP has specifically invited comments on these two proposed “utilization goals” and on “the amount of time” federal contractors will have to devote to the new requirements, particularly, the time it would take to “develop the computations and comparisons required.” OFCCP does not think “these requirements will present an onerous burden to contractors.”

OFCCP has also indicated that these new regulations, including the record-keeping and hiring goal requirements, will apply equally to construction and non-construction alike.

If you are a federal contractor, or considering entering the federal contract arena, Leech Tishman’s Employment Practice Group suggests you review the proposed rules and offer your comments to OFCCP regarding the proposed changes by the end of the day tomorrow.

Leech Tishman’s Employment Practice Group has experience working with OFCCP, the Department of Labor, and the agencies’ rules and regulations. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the Section 503 proposed rules, drafting your affirmative action plans, or any issue facing federal contractors.

Please feel free to contact the Employment Group with any questions regarding the OFCCP’s proposed rules regarding affirmative action or any other employment law issue.

Leech Tishman is a firm dedicated to providing full-service commercial legal services to individuals, businesses, and institutions. We combine a deep understanding of our clients’ and their businesses with skilled legal counsel to find solutions. We offer legal services in alternative dispute resolution, bankruptcy & creditors’ rights, construction, corporate, employment, energy, environmental, safety & toxic torts, estates & trusts, government relations, insurance coverage & corporate risk mitigation, litigation, real estate, and taxation. For more information call 412.261.1600 or visit www.leechtishman.com.