Affirmative Action

Bill Prohibiting Height and Weight Discrimination Update

November 21, 2023

By Paige L. Carey and Mallory A. Campbell

As reported in our previous blog post, on May 26, 2023, New York City Mayor Adams signed a bill into law prohibiting height and weight discrimination within employment, housing and public accommodations under the New York City Human Rights Law. That law will go into effect tomorrow, November 22, 2023. Although these prohibitions are accompanied by a few exemptions, employers should note that such exemptions are narrow and dependent on allowances contained within either federal, state, or local laws or regulations, or as expressly permitted by the Commission on Human Rights.    

Read More >> Bill Prohibiting Height and Weight Discrimination Update

Second Circuit Clarifies Federal Law on Employment Retaliation Claims

August 22, 2023

By Thomas G. Eron

In a recent decision, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appeals court covering New York and adjacent states, sought to clarify the federal law standard for evaluating retaliation claims under the principal anti-discrimination statutes including, Title VII, the ADEA and the Reconstruction Era Civil Rights Act. Significantly, the court found that such retaliation claims are evaluated under a separate, more expansive standard than substantive discrimination (including hostile work environment) claims.

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Race in Admissions after Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard

June 30, 2023

By Laura H. Harshbarger and Philip J. Zaccheo

On June 29, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College.[1] The Court considered the admissions practices of Harvard College and University of North Carolina (UNC) and found that neither could withstand the “strict scrutiny” demanded for race-based admissions decisions. Although nominally about these two particular admissions programs, the Court’s rationale for its ruling leaves virtually no possibility that race-based admissions practices will withstand judicial challenge.

Read More >> Race in Admissions after Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard

BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Affirmative Action in Admissions 

June 29, 2023

By Laura H. Harshbarger

BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Harvard’s and UNC’s admissions programs, which factor an applicant’s race into account during the admissions process, are unconstitutional based on Equal Pro-tection Clause/Fourteenth Amendment grounds. A link to the decision can be found here. The decision will have resounding impacts on institutions’ admissions processes. Our higher education attorneys are studying the decision and its implications, and we will be providing commentary and guidance soon. 

Read More >> BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Affirmative Action in Admissions 

NYC Council Passes Bill to Prohibit Height, Weight Discrimination

May 23, 2023

May 30, 2023 – UPDATE: On May 26, NYC Mayor Adams signed this bill into law, and it will go into effect 180 days later, on Nov. 22, 2023. Please feel free to reach out for steps your organization can take now to begin preparing.

On May 11, 2023, the New York City Council passed a bill which would prohibit height and weight discrimination within employment, housing and public accommodations under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). As of this writing, the bill has been sent to Mayor Eric Adams for signature, who has 30 days to either sign the bill, take no action or veto it. If the mayor signs or takes no action, the bill becomes law and would take effect 180 days thereafter. In the event of a veto, the bill is sent back to the Council, which can override the veto with a two-thirds vote.

Read More >> NYC Council Passes Bill to Prohibit Height, Weight Discrimination

OFCCP’s Pay Equity Directive Takes Aim at Federal Contractors 

April 22, 2022

By Monica C. Barrett and Christa Richer Cook

On March 15, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a new directive addressing pay equity audits. The new Directive 2022-01 sets forth what OFCCP views as its apparent authority to obtain access to and review federal contractors’ pay equity audits that are conducted in connection with contractors’ compliance mandates. 


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Federal Contractors Required to Use New Disability Self-Identification Form

March 6, 2017

By Larry P. Malfitano

The revised Regulations of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act (which became effective in March 2014) required Federal contractors and subcontractors to invite applicants and employees to self-identify their disability status using an Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) prescribed form:  (1) at the pre-offer stage of the application process, (2) post-offer after an applicant is offered a position but prior to starting work, and (3) by survey of the workforce every 5 years.  The required OFCCP Form is Form CC-305; this form cannot be altered or changed.  The original Form CC-305 approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB ) expired on 1/31/2017. The OFCCP recently published a notice that the OMB has approved a new Form for another three years.  No change was made to the Form except the expiration date.  Effective immediately, Federal contractors and subcontractors must either download the renewed form(s) or update their electronic version(s) of the Form to reflect the new expiration date of 1/31/2020.  The Form is available in multiple formats and languages and can be obtained from the OFCCP’s website here.

OFCCP's New Pay Transparency Rule: Are You Prepared?

February 8, 2016

By Larry P. Malfitano

As we reported in a previous blog post, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) Final Rule implementing Executive Order 13665 (titled Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information) took effect on January 11, 2016.  This Executive Order amended Executive Order 11246 by prohibiting Federal contractors from discharging or discriminating against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their own compensation or the compensation of another employee or applicant. The new Rule applies to Federal contractors who enter into or modify existing covered Federal contracts greater than $10,000, on or after January 11, 2016.  The new Rule also requires Federal contractors to:  (1) revise the “equal opportunity clause” to include the new non-discrimination provision in contracts, subcontracts, and purchase orders; (2) incorporate an OFCCP-prescribed non-discrimination provision into existing employee manuals and handbooks; and (3) disseminate the non-discrimination provisions to employees and job applicants. The OFCCP has created two versions of the mandatory non-discrimination provision:

  • One formatted with the OFCCP’s logo and contact information to be posted electronically or printed and posted on an employer’s premises.
  • A second version which includes only the required language.  At a minimum, Federal contractors must use this prescribed language.

With the Final Rule already in effect, contractors should ensure their policies are in compliance with the non-discrimination provisions, make sure the OFCCP non-discrimination provision is included in handbooks or manuals and disseminated to employees and applicants, and ensure their “equal opportunity clause” in contracts, subcontracts and purchase orders is in compliance.

Ten Steps Federal Contractors Should Take to Prepare for OFCCP's Revised Regulations Applicable to Veterans and Disabled Individuals

November 19, 2013

By Larry P. Malfitano

The revised Regulations issued by the Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”), addressing affirmative action obligations applicable to disabled individuals under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (“Section 503”), and to protected veterans pursuant to the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended (“VEVRAA”), become effective March 24, 2014.  Due to the numerous requirements in these new Regulations, contractors should start reviewing and implementing procedures to ensure compliance. Ten steps that covered contractors should implement by March 24, 2014 include:

  1. Review current electronic systems and databases to determine if there is capacity to capture protected veteran and disability status for both applicants and employees.  If not, contractors will need to invest in new systems or methods to capture this required data.
  2. Review current referral sources to determine if sources are providing qualified protected candidates; sources that are not should be eliminated and/or new ones should be added.  This is a key component for meeting the 8% hiring benchmark under VEVRAA and the 7% utilization goal under Section 503.
  3. Ensure all required notices are posted.  Where notices are posted electronically, make sure they are accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities.  For contractors who use electronic or internet-based application processes, an electronic notice must be posted and stored with the electronic application to inform job applicants of their EEO rights.
  4. Review collective bargaining agreements to determine if the agreements include notice of the contractor’s affirmative action and non-discrimination policies and request for cooperation.  If they do not, contractors should send annual letters to each union, notifying the union(s) of the policies and requesting cooperation.
  5. Review and update the list of all existing subcontracts, including vendors and suppliers, who should be receiving the mandatory written notice to subcontractors of the contractor’s affirmative action efforts and request for cooperation.
  6. Revise contracts and purchase orders to include the revised mandatory EEO language under both Section 503 and VEVRAA.
  7. Make sure solicitations and advertisements include all the protected categories – minorities, females, disabled individuals, and veterans.  OFCCP has indicated in recent FAQs that just using “D” and “V” is not adequate since abbreviations must be commonly understood by jobseekers.
  8. Update recordkeeping procedures to incorporate the three-year retention requirement for specific records under Section 503 (documentation and assessment of external outreach and data collection analysis) and VEVRAA (documentation and assessment of external outreach, data collection analysis, and benchmarking records).
  9. Revise self-identification forms inviting applicants to self-identify at both the pre-offer and post-offer stage of the selection process.  All Section 503 invitations must use the new OFCCP form which will be posted on OFCCP’s website once approved.  Under the Section 503 Regulations, employees must be invited to self-identify again every five years and reminded on an annual basis that they can voluntarily update their status at any time.
  10. Adopt written reasonable accommodation procedures to ensure uniformity in processing requests.  The OFCCP’s guidance for creating procedures (listed in Section 503 Regulations as Appendix B) can be used in developing such procedures.

New Affirmative Action Regulations Require Hiring Goals for Individuals with Disabilities and Veterans

September 6, 2013

By Larry P. Malfitano

On August 27, 2013, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) announced final new regulations for Federal contractors for compliance under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Section 503") and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act ("VEVRAA").  The final rules will become effective 180 days after publication in the Federal Register.

For the first time, both rules require contractors to establish annual hiring benchmarks for qualified disabled individuals and protected veterans.  The OFCCP’s new Section 503 rule establishes a 7% utilization goal for individuals with disabilities for each of a contractor’s Job Groups, or for the entire workforce if the contractor employs 100 employees or less.  The new VEVRAA rule establishes a requirement for an annual benchmark for protected veterans, but allows contractors to choose one of two methods.  One option is to establish a benchmark equal to the national percentage (currently 8%), which will be published annually by the OFCCP.  Another option for contractors is to establish their own benchmark based on the best data available.

Highlights of the final rules that affect both Section 503 and VEVRAA include:

  • Data Collection:  The requirement that contractors document and update annually the number of individuals with disabilities and protected veterans who apply for jobs, as well as the number who are hired.  The data must be maintained for three years.
  • Invitation to Self Identify:  The requirement that contractors invite applicants to self-identify at both the pre-offer and post-offer stage.
  • Incorporation of the EO Clause:  New specific language to be used in subcontracts.
  • Records Access:  The requirement to allow OFCCP access to review documents related to a compliance check or focus review, either on-site or off-site.  In addition, contractors must, upon OFCCP’s request, inform OFCCP of all formats the records are maintained and provide them to OFCCP if requested.

OFCCP Directs Federal Contractors to Use New Census Data

June 18, 2013

By Larry P. Malfitano

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) recently posted a notice on its website informing federal contractors that they must begin to use the new 2006-2010 EEO Tabulation file as census data for all affirmative action plans commencing on or after January 1, 2014.  The United States Census Bureau released the new data file to the public on November 29, 2012, which contains information on 488 occupations.  This new data file replaces the Census 2000 Special EEO File that the OFCCP and covered contractors began using in January 2005.

OFCCP requires contractors, in determining availability estimates for their affirmative action plans, to “use the most current and discrete statistical information available.”  Therefore, contractors are required to use the new 2010 EEO Tabulation to evaluate the reasonableness of all affirmative action plans commencing on or after January 1, 2014.  Contractors may, however, immediately begin to use the 2010 EEO Tabulation in their affirmative action plans if they wish to do so.