The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is committed to providing its customers, America’s employers, workers, job seekers and retirees with clear and easy-to-access information on how to comply with federal employment laws. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is one of many agencies under the DOL umbrella but is the only agency charged with enforcing Executive Order 11246.
In a June 1965 commencement address at Howard University in Washington, D.C., President Lyndon B. Johnson shared his strong belief in civil rights and nondiscriminatory practices when he said: "Thus it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates. This is the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result."
Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon Johnson on September 24, 1965, established requirements for non-discriminatory practices in hiring and employment on the part of U.S. government contractors. It prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do business with the federal government from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also requires contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Today, Executive Order 11246, as amended, has further strengthened over the years. It remains a major safeguard, protecting the rights of workers employed by federal contractors – which includes approximately one-fifth of the U.S. labor force – to remain free from discrimination on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, and open the doors of opportunity through its affirmative action provisions.
Highlights of the Regulations
Availability: An estimate of the number of qualified minorities or women available for employment, in a given job group, expressed as a percentage of all qualified persons available for employment in the job group. The purpose of the availability determination is to establish a benchmark against which the demographic composition of the contractor’s incumbent workforce can be compared in order to determine whether barriers to equal employment opportunity may exist within particular job groups.
Placement Goal: Placement goals serve as objectives or targets reasonably attainable by means of applying every good faith effort to make all aspects of the entire affirmative action program work. Placement goals also are used to measure progress toward achieving equal employment opportunity. In all employment decisions, the contractor must make selections in a nondiscriminatory manner. Placement goals do not provide the contractor with a justification to extend a preference to any individual, select an individual, or adversely affect an individual’s employment status, on the basis of that person's race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.
Data collection: The regulations require that contractors document and update annually several quantitative comparisons for the number of minority and women who apply for jobs, and the number of minority and women they hire. Having this data assists contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts.
Incorporation of the Executive Order Clause: The regulations require that specific language be used when incorporating the equal opportunity clause into a subcontract by reference. The mandated language, though brief, alerts subcontractors to their responsibilities as federal contractors.
Records Access: The regulations clarify that contractors must allow OFCCP to review documents related to a compliance review, compliance check, or focused review, either on-site or off-site, at OFCCP’s option.
Compliance Assistance: Based on Executive Order 11246 requirements, federal contractors are required to take proactive steps to ensure:
Learn more about the OFCCP and federal contractor requirements at www.dol.gov/agencies/ofccp also check out the following links on the OFCCP webpage:
- Its workforce is an equitable representation of its recruitment area.
- There are no impediments in its employment processes that may impact individuals by race or gender.
- That action-oriented programs are implemented to meet established placement goals in specific job areas.