OFCCP recently announced that it will begin conducting focused reviews addressing disability and religious accommodations as a part of its focused review initiative. These frequently asked questions provide more background and general guidance to contractors on accommodations and what to expect during a review.
What is an accommodations focused review?
In an accommodations focused review, Compliance Officers (CO) will review a contractor’s policies and procedures related solely to the provision of religious and disability accommodations. The CO will specifically review documentation relating to accommodation requests and dispositions, with a particular emphasis on denial(s) of accommodation. The review will also include interviews with managers responsible for or involved in the accommodation process, as well as with affected employees and applicants.
What are the requirements for religious and/or disability accommodation requests?
While not identical, the processes for religious and disability accommodations are similar. Both generally require that contractors grant accommodations requests unless they can demonstrate that doing so would create an “undue hardship.” Examples of common religious accommodations include, but are not limited to, providing space and time for prayers, allowing employees to wear religious head coverings or facial hair, and adjusting schedules so that employees do not have to work on religious holidays or Sabbaths. Generally, religious accommodation requests do not need to be accompanied by documentation proving “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Requests for disability accommodations, on the other hand, may require the submission of documentation of the need for accommodation based on the nature of the disability. Examples of disability accommodations include, but are not limited to, adjustments or modifications made to a job or workplace to accommodate an individual with a disability, such as providing modified equipment and devices, changing work schedules, or holding meetings in accessible areas.
What are the requirements for an undue hardship defense related to religious and/or disability accommodations?
While not identical, the requirements for an undue hardship defense related to religious and/or disability accommodations are similar. As described in 41 CFR 60-50.3, for an undue hardship defense related to religious accommodations, contractors must consider, at minimum, business necessity, financial cost or expense, and resulting personnel problems. As described in 41 CFR 60-741.2(aa) in the disability context, the factors to be considered include:
- The nature and net cost of the accommodation needed, taking into consideration the availability of tax credits and deductions, and/or outside funding;
- The overall financial resources of the facility or facilities involved in the provision of the reasonable accommodation, the number of persons employed at such facility, and the effect on expenses and resources;
- The overall financial resources of the contractor, the overall size of the business of the contractor with respect to the number of its employees, and the number, type and location of its facilities;
- The type of operation or operations of the contractor, including the composition, structure and functions of the work force of such contractor, and the geographic separateness and administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities in question to the contractor; and
- The impact of the accommodation upon the operation of the facility, including the impact on the ability of other employees to perform their duties and the impact on the facility's ability to conduct business.
Why is OFCCP conducting accommodations focused reviews?
OFCCP and the U.S. Department of Labor are committed to ensuring compliance with the equal employment opportunity laws that we enforce. The accommodations focused reviews will bring attention to contractor nondiscrimination obligations in the areas of religion and disability, as part of the agency’s effort to ensure contractors comply with all aspects of the laws OFCCP administers.
We have a centralized accommodations system already in use for processing disability accommodation requests. Would it be appropriate to incorporate religious accommodation requests as well?
Centralized accommodation systems can be an efficient, high-impact way for contractors to better serve their employees when it comes to disability and religious accommodations provided those individuals processing disability accommodation requests are also knowledgeable about how to handle religious accommodations requests in a legally appropriate way.
Where can I learn more about the accommodations focused review?
OFCCP created a landing page that specifically discusses accommodations focused reviews. It can be accessed at www.dol.gov/agencies/ofccp/focused-reviews/accommodations.
If an establishment has been scheduled for an accommodations focused review, can it also be scheduled for other types of reviews?
No. While a focused review is pending at an establishment, the establishment will not be scheduled for any other types of compliance evaluations. However, if OFCCP receives a complaint during the accommodations focused review alleging violations under any of the three laws OFCCP administers, OFCCP will investigate the complaint accordingly.
Upon being scheduled for an accommodations focused review, who should I contact for compliance information and/or assistance?
Contractors are encouraged to take advantage of OFCCP’s compliance assistance materials available in the Contractor Assistance tab at the top of OFCCP’s website. Contractors can also contact the OFCCP regional or district office that sent the scheduling letter for any questions about the compliance evaluation process or if they require individualized compliance assistance. OFCCP’s district office staff will contact the contractor to offer technical assistance before or immediately after sending the scheduling letter. Finally, contractors can seek assistance through the Contractor Assistance Portal.
How can I contact OFCCP if I have questions about accommodations focused reviews?
Contractors can call OFCCP’s Toll-Free Help Line at 1-800-397-6251 (TTY 1-877-889-5627) Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time (except federal holidays) to get additional information about accommodations focused reviews.
The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.
Last updated on October 19, 2020