Rule would change contractors' hiring practices

Wednesday - 8/25/2010, 4:45pm EDT

David Cohen, president, DCI Consulting Group

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Federal contractors might have to give hiring preferences to people with disabilities.

The Labor Department has posted a notice of potential rulemaking that seems to indicate that federal contractors might face placement goals for hiring disabled workers.

The little noticed proposal comes from the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contracting Compliance Programming -- it's called the Affirmative Action and Nondiscrimination Obligations of Contractors and Subcontractors.

David Cohen is the president of the DCI Consulting Group, which works with companies on HR compliance issues.

He says this would be a significant change for government contractors:

"It would really change their entire hiring practices, as well as requiring statistical analyses of workforce data -- so, looking at your workforce to see how many people in your workforce have a disability by certain job categories, and then matching that up to Census data to say -- 'Okay, your employment data of those with disabilities is less than what would reasonably be expected out in the general workforce, therefore you are underrepresented for people with disabilities'. Now you must take affirmative action to go out and not only find individuals with disabilities for your type of job, but one of the things that's floating in a study that the Labor Department commissioned . . . not only do you have to find those individuals with disabilities, but you're going to have to give them preference in the hiring process."

He does remind us, though, that the rule is only proposed at this point.