The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has released a new compliance assistance guide that makes subtle but important changes to the language federal contractor employers are required to use in advertisements for prospective employees informing them of the organization’s status as an equal opportunity employer. Informally known as the “EO tagline,” contractors will now officially be allowed to simply use “EOE” as a substitute for the phrase, “an equal opportunity employer.” The agency’s guidance also provides that the “EEO is the Law” poster and the required “pay transparency” notice may be posted either “electronically” or “physically,” deviating slightly from past guidance heavily favoring physical posters on company bulletin boards.
The OFCCP’s regulations implementing Executive Order (E.O.) 11246 explicitly provide contractors with essentially two options for a compliant EO tagline. Contractors can either expressly “state that all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin,” or substitute the abbreviated phrase, “an equal opportunity employer.” 41 C.F.R. § 60-1.41. Guidance released after the agency’s regulations implementing Section 503 and VEVRAA were revised in 2014 required contractors to, at a minimum, add the words “disability” and “vet” to their E.O. 11246 tagline to be compliant with those requirements.
The agency never officially sanctioned taglines such as “EEO/AA m/f/d/v.” Such hyper-abbreviated taglines did become popular during the George W. Bush administration, likely because the agency simply did not rigorously enforce that requirement. Under the Obama administration, however, the agency became much stricter regarding these types of “technical” requirements and began to stringently enforce based on the plain language in their regulations.
In the newly released compliance assistance guide titled, “Postings & Notice Requirements,” the OFCCP is for the first time officially and explicitly allowing contractors to substitute “EOE” for the phrase “an equal opportunity employer” in their taglines. Assuming a contractor is subject to the requirements of all three authorities—E.O. 11246, Section 503, and VEVRAA—the minimum compliant tagline is now, “EOE disability/vet.”
Biddle Consulting Group still strongly recommends that contractors spell out “veteran,” rather than use the allowed abbreviation, “vet,” as many veterans find the abbreviation off-putting or even offensive.
Contractors can still use the “long form” tagline listing out all of the protected characteristics, or the shortened phrase, “an equal opportunity employer.” The OFCCP’s new guidance also provides that if the E.O. 11246 tagline lists any specific characteristics protected under that authority they must list all such characteristics (race. Color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and national origin).
So, for example, if your tagline currently reads, “All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status,” it is not compliant because it leaves out “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
The OFCCP’s new guidance also states that the “EEO is the Law” poster and the required “pay transparency nondiscrimination provision” can be posted “either physically on the premises or electronically,” so long as all applicants and employees have “a way to access” the materials. Note that the compliance assistance guide specifically excludes policy statements and other notices that are part of a written affirmative action program (AAP). The OFCCP’s regulations implementing Section 503 and VEVRAA specifically require that an affirmative action policy to be posted “on company bulletin boards.”
If you have questions about your EO tagline, or any other OFCCP compliance-related inquiries, contact a Biddle consultant today.