Focus on Disability Hiring on Tap for Federal Contractor Audits

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By Paige Smith

Federal contractors can expect the Labor Department to conduct focused on-site reviews of their efforts to hire and employ individuals with disabilities in the coming months.

Under the new leadership of acting director Craig Leen, an advocate for individuals with disabilities, the DOL’s Office for Federal Contract Compliance Programs will begin conducting random focused reviews of contractors during regular audits to ensure they’re attempting to meet a 7 percent employment rate goal for employees with disabilities. That goal was established as part of updates to the agency’s disability rules during the Obama administration. Some employers in the contracting community opposed the rules, but their legal challenge failed.

The focused reviews will begin in early 2019 when the next list of contractors to be audited by the enforcement agency will be released, Leen told Bloomberg Law Aug. 2. The office regularly audits government contractors for compliance with affirmative action and nondiscrimination requirements.

“An inclusive atmosphere is good for your business,” he said. “The problem is that it doesn’t occur because people don’t get a chance.”

Leen has two children with autism, which inspired his dedication to inclusion-focused policies, he told attendees of the National Industry Liaison Group Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

He described his experience of wanting his daughter to be involved in a swimming program at the well-known Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, Fla., where he was formerly the city attorney. He discovered that accommodations for her disability didn’t exist.

“You never want your child to feel inadequate,” he said.

Throughout his presentation, Leen stressed that he wants to bring his previous experience with advocating for individuals with disabilities to the OFCCP.

“I believe that corporate America wants to comply with these laws,” he said. “I want to help individuals with disabilities get jobs.”

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