Positions and Policies
HR Policy Shares With OFCCP Our Members' Experience Surveying Employees on Personal Matters
June 29, 2012
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This week, HR Policy wrote a letter to OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu responding to recent remarks by one of her regional directors that, according to our letter, were "completely devoid of workplace realities and the issues that employers confront when dealing with their employees regarding highly sensitive and personal matters." In a recent speech seeking to bolster the OFCCP's proposed disability affirmative action rules, OFCCP Baltimore-Washington District Office Director Tom G. Wells downplayed the problems federal contractors would have getting applicants and employees to disclose their disability status, saying employers could obtain sufficient responses by educating applicants and employees on the company's business necessity to comply with federal affirmative action laws. Drawing from our recent regional meetings on the issue (see separate story), we pointed out that "the reluctance of individuals with disabilities to disclose their status—which seems to be the lynchpin of the [OFCCP proposal] cannot be underestimated." Our letter points out that our member companies have considerable experience in employee surveys—a common component of the HR function—and they have found that "employees invariably respond negatively to any surveys asking personal questions, with concerns that the company will use the information against them, even if it is presented as being confidential." More significantly, we pointed out:
[T]he requirement runs contrary to the efforts of companies to focus on employees’ abilities rather than their disabilities and the success they have had in integrating those with disabilities into the workforce without highlighting their differences from other employees. Moreover, while there are limits to making generalities about such a diverse population, it is [our members'] view that those with disabilities generally prefer this approach, as was reflected in some of the comments filed on the [OFCCP proposal] by organizations representing individuals with disabilities. Our members further believe that such concerns are one of the key underpinnings of the restrictions under the Americans with Disabilities Act against employers inquiring as to disability status. As we noted in our comments, the NPRM requires employers to violate those restrictions.
As we have done repeatedly, we offered to meet with Director Shiu to share with her what we are hearing from our members.
HR Policy Letter to OFCCP Director Shiu Re Disability Self-Identification Proposal
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