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How to Prepare an Affirmative Action Plan

Author: Linda Segall, Segall Enterprises

Not all employers are legally required to have a written Affirmative Action Plan (AAP), unless they are under a court-imposed order. However, any employer that receives monies from the federal government (that is, is a federal contractor or a subcontractor) is most likely obligated to undertake affirmative action efforts and therefore to have a written AAP in place.

The obligation for affirmative action stems mainly from two Executive Orders signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Executive Order 11246 bans discrimination and requires federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to ensure equal opportunity for employment without regard to race, creed, color or national origin. Executive Order 11375 adds gender as an additional area of nondiscrimination and affirmative action.

In general, under those Executive Orders, employers that must have an AAP include:

  • Nonconstruction contractors (or subcontractors) having 50 or more employees and contracts of $50,000 or more (or a series of contracts expected to total $50,000 or more). These employers are covered under Executive Orders 11246 and 11375; and
  • Construction contractors with contracts valued at $10,000 or more. AAP goals for these contractors are established by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the federal overseer of affirmative action programs. These plans do not need to be written, but documentation must be kept.

Employers with $10,000 in contracts also must take affirmative action for individuals with disabilities, according to the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Likewise, employers with contracts of $25,000 or more are required to take affirmative action on behalf of veterans who served during the Vietnam era, according to the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRA) of 1974.

It should be noted that federal regulations require a written affirmative action program for veterans and individuals with disabilities. The regulations do not require an accumulation of data, nor do they require an analysis with projections for hiring goals (though the OFCCP has proposed a federal rule mandating that federal contractors and subcontractors set a hiring goal of seven percent for individuals with disabilities).

However, employers that are federal contractors meeting the requirements must have a written AAP that shows compliance with the law and commitment to equal treatment. A plan should be prepared for each of the employer's establishments.

The steps to prepare a written AAP include the following: