A portion of my construction practice involves employment issues.  You can imagine the types of employment-related questions that arise on the project site:

  • Hiring, firing and layoffs
  • Harassment and discrimination
  • Wage payment and commission claims
  • Employee policies, including computer use and social media
  • On-the-job injuries and fatalities
  • State and Federal OSHA requirements
  • Prevailing wage laws, including Davis-Bacon Act
  • … and the list goes on!

If you are a contractor who received Federal monies under the Stimulus Act, then you should be aware of your obligation to comply with affirmative action and equal opportunity laws.

According to this Business Record article, the Federal Stimulus Act "has contractors looking over their shoulders when it comes to hiring workers."  Reporting requirements mandate that contractors track employee information, including race, gender and veteran status. In addition, contractors must show that their tracking efforts are working in the hiring process. Ultimately, the contractor will have to demonstrate a diverse workforce.  The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced late last year that it would step up enforcement efforts.

What can you do to ensure success?  Here are a few tips:

  1. Identify whether your project requires compliance.  You would be surprised to learn how few contractors actually know whether their project is subject to review of OFCCP auditors.  If the project used $1 of Federal monies, then the job falls under US Department of Labor oversight.
  2. Maintain good documentation.  If you are tracking your hiring efforts electronically, then it will be easy to maintain this information in the event of an audit.  The more problematic scenario arises when you do not have a written protocol for hiring practices and you do not keep records maintained in an organized fashion.
  3. Cast a wide net in your hiring endeavors.  Job outreach efforts should include religious groups, nonprofits and other organizations.  Contractors need to seek out ways to spread the word about available jobs to as wide a population as possible.

The lesson is not about who you hire … it’s about how you hire.