Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) Feb. 15 introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, The Equal Standards in Hiring Americans Act (H.R. 759), that would require the Department of Labor (DOL) to meet the same goal for hiring disabled workers it is trying to impose on federal contractors. 

The DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a proposed rule in December 2011 that is intended to update existing requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The proposal would require all contractors with a government contract or subcontract of $50,000 or more and 50 or more employees to have persons with disabilities comprise at least 7 percent of their workforces. OFCCP also floated the possibility of requiring federal contractors to have at least 2 percent of employees comprised of persons with “certain particularly severe” disabilities. 

According to a letter by Alexander, only 6.1 percent of DOL’s employees had reportable disabilities and only 1.3 percent had severe disabilities. 

“I appreciate the Department of Labor’s devotion to ensuring Americans with disabilities are sufficiently represented in the workplace,” Alexander said. “But when it comes to hiring, I believe our government needs to set the standard—not lead from behind. We should not be asking others to meet goals we ourselves our unwilling or unable to achieve.”

ABC has expressed concern over this proposal in the past both because of the significant burden that would be placed on construction contractors if it were implemented and because OFCCP lacks statutory authority to implement the rule. In addition to hiring goals, the proposal also requires construction contractors to conduct job group utilization analyses and file written reports for the first time, despite a long-held exemption due to the unique nature of construction work.