National Interest Exemption for New Contracts Specifically to Provide Hurricane Zeta Relief

  1. Which contracts are covered by the National Interest Exemption?
  2. How do I know if my Federal contract is exempt?
  3. What constitutes a contract specifically to provide Hurricane Zeta relief?
  4. Are contractors that hold only contracts falling under the October 28, 2020, Hurricane Zeta National Interest Exemption exempt from all OFCCP obligations? If not, what obligations must they follow?
  5. My company's only federal contract is to provide services related to Hurricane Zeta relief, and thus we are covered by the Hurricane Zeta National Interest Exemption. Do we still need to file an EEO-1 form?
  6. My company received a federal contract during the period of October 28, 2020, to January 28, 2021. This contract is for providing materials related to Hurricane Zeta relief efforts, as well as materials not related to Hurricane Zeta relief efforts. Is this contract covered by the Hurricane Zeta National Interest Exemption?
  7. My company has a new contract specifically to provide Hurricane Zeta relief and has other covered federal contracts unrelated to Hurricane Zeta relief. Do I need to continue to comply with the affirmative action provisions of OFCCP's laws, including Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 4212 of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act?
  8. Does the Hurricane Zeta National Interest Exemption apply to subcontractors?
  9. Must a prime contractor include the National Interest Exemption language in a subcontract specifically for Hurricane Zeta relief for the National Interest Exemption to apply to the subcontract?
  10. I have a new contract for Hurricane Zeta relief efforts. Who should I contact with questions about my obligations?
  11. My company wants to assist with Hurricane Zeta relief efforts. How can I contract with the Federal government to participate in the Hurricane Zeta emergency response?
  12. Why did OFCCP issue a National Interest Exemption?
  13. If a contractor needs to request an extension to comply with their affirmative action or equal employment opportunity obligations as a result of Hurricane Zeta, should they apply for a National Interest Exemption?

Complaints of Discrimination

  1. Will OFCCP continue to accept complaints of discrimination against contractors who have contracts related to Hurricane Zeta relief?
  2. I believe that I was discriminated against by a federal contractor providing Hurricane Zeta relief. What can I do?

National Interest Exemption for New Contracts Specifically to Provide Hurricane Zeta Relief

1. Which contracts are covered by the National Interest Exemption?

The National Interest Exemption (NIE) Memorandum issued to Federal contracting agencies on October 28, 2020, applies to new supply & service and construction contracts entered into from October 28, 2020, to January 28, 2021, specifically to provide Hurricane Zeta relief. This NIE may be extended by OFCCP should special circumstances in the national interest so require.

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2. How do I know if my Federal contract is exempt?

The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, issued the NIE memorandum to all Federal contracting agencies notifying them of the NIE and providing language to include in new supply & service and construction contracts entered into specifically to provide Hurricane Zeta relief. If your Federal contract is exempt, it will contain the clauses in the NIE memorandum.

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3. What constitutes a contract specifically to provide Hurricane Zeta relief?

Federal contracting officers know the terms and conditions of the contracts they execute. Therefore, they are in the best position to determine what constitutes a supply & service or construction contract specifically to provide Hurricane Zeta relief and whether it is appropriate to include the alternate contract clauses in the NIE memorandum in the contract.

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4. Are contractors that hold only contracts falling under the October 28, 2020, Hurricane Zeta National Interest Exemption exempt from all OFCCP obligations? If not, what obligations must they follow?

While the National Interest Exemption exempts qualifying contractors from certain obligations, it does not exempt them from all obligations. Contractors that qualify for the October 28, 2020, National Interest Exemption must continue to abide by the nondiscrimination and non-retaliation obligations under OFCCP's laws – that is, they must not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status. Contractors also are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees because they inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations, and may not retaliate against applicants or employees for engaging in protected activities. To this end, OFCCP will accept and investigate complaints of discrimination and/or retaliation, and all contractors must allow OFCCP access to its premises and records, as necessary, to investigate complaints and determine compliance with the law. If OFCCP determines that a violation occurred, OFCCP retains the right to seek remedies for such violations and may refer any such violations to the Office of the Solicitor for enforcement. 

The October 28, 2020, National Interest Exemption exempts qualifying contractors from their obligation to develop the affirmative action program, prepare the reports, or provide the notices usually required under the regulations implementing of Executive Order 11246, Section 503, VEVRAA, and their implementing regulations. Qualifying contractors must continue to comply with the following FAR requirements:

  1. Posting of the "Equal Opportunity is the Law" notice,
  2. Recordkeeping and record retention, and
  3. Employment listings with the appropriate local employment service office or American job center.

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5. My company's only federal contract is to provide services related to Hurricane Zeta relief, and thus we are covered by the Hurricane Zeta National Interest Exemption. Do we still need to file an EEO-1 form?

You are not required to file an EEO-1 form based on your federal contractor status. However, you may be required to file an EEO-1 form based on your status as a private employer. Please visit the EEOC's website at www.eeoc.gov/employers/eeo1survey/whomustfile.cfm for more information on your EEO-1 filing obligations.

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6. My company received a federal contract during the period of October 28, 2020, to January 28, 2021. This contract is for providing materials related to Hurricane Zeta relief efforts, as well as materials not related to Hurricane Zeta relief efforts. Is this contract covered by the Hurricane Zeta National Interest Exemption?

No. Only new supply & service and construction contracts solely for the specific purpose of providing Hurricane Zeta relief are covered by the exemption.

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7. My company has a new contract specifically to provide Hurricane Zeta relief and has other covered federal contracts unrelated to Hurricane Zeta relief. Do I need to continue to comply with the affirmative action provisions of OFCCP's laws, including Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 4212 of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act?

Yes. The Hurricane Zeta National Interest Exemption only applies to new supply & service and construction contracts specifically for Hurricane Zeta relief efforts. Contractors that hold contracts unrelated to Hurricane Zeta relief, and thus were already required to comply with the affirmative action requirements of laws enforced by OFCCP, must continue to do so.

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8. Does the Hurricane Zeta National Interest Exemption apply to subcontractors?

Yes, as long as the subcontractor is providing goods or services as part of a prime contract specifically for Hurricane Zeta relief that explicitly contains the alternate contract clauses set out in the October 28, 2020, NIE memorandum.

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9. Must a prime contractor include the National Interest Exemption language in a subcontract specifically for Hurricane Zeta relief for the National Interest Exemption to apply to the subcontract?

No, as long as the prime contract specifically for Hurricane Zeta relief explicitly contains the alternate contract clauses set out in the Hurricane Zeta NIE memorandum, then the NIE also applies to any subcontractor providing goods or services as part of the prime contract. Prime contractors, however, may choose to also insert the alternate contract clause language into the subcontracts.

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10. I have a new contract for Hurricane Zeta relief efforts. Who should I contact with questions about my obligations?

OFCCP's website at www.dol.gov/agencies/ofccp contains contractor resources, frequently asked questions about new contractor obligations and information about Executive Order 11246, VEVRAA and Section 503. You may also call OFCCP's toll-free Help Desk at 1-800-397-6251 or contact the OFCCP District Office nearest you for assistance.

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11. My company wants to assist with Hurricane Zeta relief efforts. How can I contract with the Federal government to participate in the Hurricane Zeta emergency response?
OFCCP regulates Federal contractor compliance with equal employment opportunity laws and does not award or manage federal government contracts. Businesses interested in getting Federal contracts, including those for disaster recovery efforts, can visit the Federal government's System of Award Management website to search for contract opportunities at beta.sam.gov/search?index=opp.

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12. Why did OFCCP issue a National Interest Exemption?

In view of the special circumstances in the national interest presented by Hurricane Zeta, and consistent with agency practice relating to emergency responses, OFCCP is granting a limited exemption and waiver from some of the requirements of the laws administered by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Prior administrations granted NIEs for Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. This NIE has a similar limited scope to those NIEs. OFCCP continues to enforce its laws and is open for business.

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13. If a contractor needs to request an extension to comply with their affirmative action or equal employment opportunity obligations as a result of Hurricane Zeta, should they apply for a NIE?

If a contractor needs an extension or adjustment because of Hurricane Zeta, they cannot rely on the NIE, but instead should request an extension or adjustment because of the impact of the hurricane on their operations. Contractors should request any extensions through the Compliance Officer and Regional Office handling the compliance evaluation or complaint investigation. OFCCP has instructed its field offices to work collaboratively with contractors requesting extensions due to the impact of Hurricane Zeta. Contractors may also contact OFCCP's Ombuds Service for assistance by email at Stergio.Marcus@dol.gov, or by phone at (202) 693-1174.

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Complaints of Discrimination

14. Will OFCCP continue to accept complaints of discrimination against contractors who have contracts related to Hurricane Zeta relief?

Yes. OFCCP will continue to investigate complaints of discrimination. The agency will take into consideration all practical circumstances and exercise reasonable flexibility in investigating complaints.

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15. I believe that I was discriminated against by a federal contractor providing Hurricane Zeta relief. What can I do?

For information on how to file a complaint with OFCCP, please go to www.dol.gov/agencies/ofccp/contact/file-complaint.