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Focused Reviews on Promotions and on Accommodations
During 2021, there will be two new types of affirmative action compliance reviews: reviews focused on promotions and on accommodations. In September of 2020, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released its fiscal year 2020 Corporate Scheduling Announcement List (CSAL). This list contains 2,250 federal contractor and subcontractor establishments that will eventually be scheduled for a compliance review. Many of the reviews included in this CSAL are traditional establishment reviews, compliance checks, corporate management compliance evaluations, and reviews focused on compliance with Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 503).
This CSAL also includes the two additional types of reviews mentioned above. OFCCP says that reviews focused on promotions are meant to help in identifying, addressing, and remedying the “glass ceiling” that keeps qualified individuals from rising to higher positions. Reviews focused on accommodations “will examine a contractor’s policies and procedures related solely to religious and disability accommodations.”
Promotions Focused Reviews
The landing page for promotions focused reviews contains helpful resources for employers including a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page and a page on best practices regarding promotions. The FAQ page includes answers to the following questions:
- How does OFCCP define promotion?
- What is a promotions focused review?
- Why is OFCCP conducting a promotions focused review
- What should contractors do to prepare for a promotions focused review?
The page with information on best practices regarding promotions contains information on the following topics:
- Development Opportunities
- Promotion Pathways
- Support Programs
- Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
- Employee Resource Groups
The landing page for promotions focused reviews also mentions the scheduling letter for these types of reviews. However, the landing page doesn’t provide a link to the scheduling letter. Instead, the scheduling letter can be found on the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) website. It is unclear whether this scheduling letter has been fully approved by OMB. The scheduling letter and itemized listing for promotions focused reviews is nearly as comprehensive as the letter and itemized listing for traditional establishment reviews. Both letters ask for affirmative action plans for the laws administered by OFCCP as well as data on personnel activity and compensation.
Accommodations Focused Reviews
The Accommodations Focused Reviews landing page also contains helpful resources for employers including links to the following items:
- Accommodations Frequently Asked Questions
- Federal Contract Compliance Manual (FCCM) Section on Updated Religious Accommodation
- FCCM Section on Disability Accommodation
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Religious Discrimination Guidance
- Best Practices for Religious Accommodations
The two sections from the FCCM provide valuable and in-depth information to contractors and subcontractors that are going to be reviewed.
The FAQ page for accommodations focused reviews includes answers to the following questions:
- What is an accommodations focused review?
- What are the requirements for religious and/or disability accommodation requests?
- What are the requirements for an undue hardship defense related to religious and/or disability accommodations?
- Why is OFCCP conducting accommodations focused reviews?
Similar to the scheduling letter for promotions focused reviews, the scheduling letter for accommodations focused reviews is a parsed down version of the traditional scheduling letter. This scheduling letter and itemized listing also ask for affirmative action plans for the laws administered by OFCCP and data on personnel activity and compensation. Additionally, this letter asks for information regarding accommodation policies and documentation of accommodations.
Reviews Require On-Site Component
Focused reviews were meant to be streamlined compliance reviews. However, it is unclear whether these reviews can be conducted quickly, in part because each focused review requires an “on-site” component. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, OFCCP announced its intention to physically be on-site for all focused reviews. During the pandemic, OFCCP has opted to use virtual meetings and phone calls for the on-site portion of reviews. This has allowed for flexibility in scheduling manager and employee interviews. However, it requires significant coordination by OFCCP compliance officers conducting these reviews. It remains to be seen whether OFCCP will continue to use virtual on-sites once the pandemic is over.