On November 8, 2019, just before Veterans Day, OFCCP issued Directive (2020-01) (the “Directive”), which addresses “Spouses of Protected Veterans.” Its latest directive is the first of FY2020 and follows up on the agency’s supplemental CSAL identifying contractors selected for VEVRAA Focused Reviews.
The Directive observes that spouses of protected veterans are protected by OFCCP regulations, and directs OFCCP compliance officers to investigate potential discrimination against such individuals during onsite investigations.
Specifically, compliance officers will, among other things:
- offer Human Resources staff and managers compliance assistance by providing a sample nondiscrimination policy;
- ensure “the contractor understands its obligation not to discriminate against qualified individuals whom the contractor knows to be spouses or other associates of a protected veteran”; and
- ask employees interviewed during onsite investigations if they are or have coworkers who are spouses of protected veterans, and request “any observations they have concerning the treatment of spouses of protected veterans.”
Contractors are advised to review and update, if necessary, their nondiscrimination policies to ensure they prohibit discrimination against protected veterans as well as their spouses and others associated with protected veterans. OFCCP has provided sample policy language contractors may wish to adopt or use to modify their existing policies:
It is [Federal Contractor, Inc.’s] policy not to discriminate because of a person’s relationship or association with a protected veteran. This includes spouses and other family members. Also, [Federal Contractor, Inc.] will safeguard the fair and equitable treatment of protected veteran spouses and family members with regard to all employment actions and prohibit harassment of applicants and employees because of their relationship or association with a protected veteran.
Contractors selected for any compliance evaluation, but particularly VEVRAA Focused Reviews, should be prepared for compliance officers to investigate potential discrimination of protected veterans’ spouses when conducting onsite visits.