The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing laws against employment discrimination, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
The U.S. Department of Labor is the federal agency responsible for overseeing and enforcing employment law regarding occupational safety, wage and hour regulations and unemployment insurance. Both agencies have recently enacted changes regarding employment of qualified disabled individuals. HR compliance with disability legislation is important to avoid fines, penalties and sanctions, including cancellation, suspension, or termination of contracts and payments.
The EEOC is required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Act of 1990 to adjust fines for penalties for inflation when the Consumer Price Index changes. Beginning April 18, 2014, the EEOC is increasing the fine from $110 to $210 for failing to post federal nondiscrimination notices. Every employer covered by the American with Disabilities Act or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act must post information about these two Acts. The “EEO is the Law” notice satisfies this requirement, as it clarifies the employee classifications that are protected from job discrimination, such as race, color, sex and age, among others.
The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs published a final rule in September of 2013 changing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The final rule became effective in March 2014 and changed the nondiscrimination provisions of the regulations to bring them into compliance with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
With the goal of improving job opportunities for individuals with disabilities, section 503 prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against individuals with disabilities in employment and requires specific actions to recruit and hire qualified employees with disabilities. The rule applies to federal contractors with 50 or more employees and a contract of at least $50,000. These contractors must also develop a written affirmative action program and seek disability information.
The regulations now require certain federal contractors to ask applicants to voluntarily self-identify their disability status before and after being offered a job and invites all employees to self-identify every five years with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability form.
The goal of the rule is to create enforceable accountability for discrimination in hiring and employment of qualified disabled individuals. The main way the rule will achieve this is by requiring federal contractors to have seven percent of their employees be individuals with disabilities. They will also be required to report on the number of individuals with disabilities who apply compared to the number of individuals with disabilities who are hired and must maintain those reports for audit purposes.
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