At the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2014 Employment Law & Legislative Conference, speaker Tim Orellano started his presentation on how to comply with new federal affirmative action regulations by leading his audience in one big, collective moan.The exercise got a laugh, but it also illustrated just how burdensome Orellano believes the rules will be for those in the HR industry.
In the summer of 2013 the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published final rules to improve job opportunities with federal contractors for individuals with disabilities and for protected veterans. Among the changes are new quotas for hiring veterans and individuals with disabilities, a requirement that larger contractors apply the new quotas to each job group, and closer scrutiny during audits—all of which will require HR professionals to change how they prepare their affirmative action plans.
In fact, Orellano likened the OFCCP to a tiger that’s “ferocious, sly, hunting you down, because all of you are evildoers, and if they find you, you are their prey.”
“This is all about your money,” said Orellano, president of The Human Resources Team, an Arkansas-based HR management consulting firm. “The OFCCP goes after all sorts of pots of gold. If you don’t have documents during an audit to substantiate why statistics are working against you, you have inferred or implied discrimination because you can’t prove otherwise.”
Though Orellano acknowledged that OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu has said she wants to be flexible with contractors to help them comply, he warned that the office’s compliance officers “are ready to go—they’re coming out of the gate; they’re really chomping at the bit.”
Moreover, the concept of conciliation “no longer means discussing whether the OFCCP could be in error as to law or fact. Conciliation now means ‘Bring your checkbook.’ ”
And because compliance officers’ performance is typically measured by the number of violations they issue, he said, HR managers should expect several “minor technical violations,” such as record-keeping errors.
Thus, it’s important that HR managers focus on “total technical compliance” and documenting good-faith efforts to recruit and hire veterans and individuals with disabilities.
According to Orellano, during audits, HR managers should expect compliance officers to demand a lengthy list of documents—including compensation data, employment tests and even “pictures of your parking spaces” for those with disabilities. He said compliance officers are notorious for wanting such documents immediately.
Among his other tips were:
Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM