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OFCCP Issues Memorandum for Federal Contractors Working on Coronavirus Projects

by | March 18, 2020

On Tuesday, March 18, OFCCP issued a press release regarding the agency’s response to the national coronavirus outbreak. The press release refers to a memorandum issued on March 17 by OFCCP Director Craig Leen. In today’s press release, Director Leen stated:

“Following President Trump’s direction, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is committed to swiftly responding to COVID-19. Today’s memorandum helps federal agencies and federal contractors engaged in relief efforts to protect the safety, security and health of the American people.”

Affirmative Action Requirements Removed for Coronavirus Projects

Organizations that obtain federal contracts and subcontracts related to providing coronavirus relief will not be subject to certain requirements found in the federal affirmative action regulations. Among these requirements are the following:

  • The preparation of written affirmative action plans
  • Outreach efforts meant to recruit and select minorities, women, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities
  • The inclusion of EEO tag lines in advertisements and job posting
  • Listing job openings with the local state employment service offices
  • Preparing equal opportunity/affirmative action policy statements
  • Ensuring that applicants and employees are given access to the federal “EEO is the Law” poster

Limits on National Interest Exemption

The “national interest exemption” issued by Director Leen only applies to federal contracts and subcontracts issued from March 17, 2020 through June 17, 2020. The exemption applies only to federal contracts and subcontracts entered into “specifically to provide Coronavirus relief.” National interest exemptions to the affirmative action laws have been rarely used by OFCCP, and are generally very limited in their application.

OFCCP has issued a series of frequently asked questions to provide more insight into what organizations are covered by the national interest exemption. The FAQs make it clear that most federal contractors and subcontractors will NOT be exempt from the federal affirmative action laws. The FAQs also make it clear that even the organizations that fall under the national interest exemption must ensure that they prevent discrimination against applicants and employees.

OFCCP Will Continue Compliance Reviews

Most federal contractors and subcontractors will NOT be subject to this national interest exemption. This means that organizations covered by the federal affirmative action laws should continue in their efforts to fully implement the requirements in these laws. There are likely to be changes in the manner OFCCP conducts its compliance reviews in light of the coronavirus outbreak. However, OFCCP has expressed no plans to suspend its current compliance reviews or to avoid the start of new compliance reviews.