The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued the Internet Applicant Rule to increase the OFCCP’s ability to enforce anti-discrimination employment laws. The Internet Applicant Rule became effective on February 6, 2006. It requires federal contractors to retain hiring and demographic records regarding Internet applicants. Federal contractors need to be aware of the Internet Applicant Rule and modify their record keeping to be in compliance.
However, the OFCCP will not cite a contractor for violating the Internet Applicant Rule during the ninety-day period following February 6, 2006, so long as a contractor is taking reasonable steps to modify its record keeping systems to comply with the Internet Applicant Rule and providing that the contractor maintains records that comply with pre-Internet Applicant Rule standards.
The Internet Applicant Rule defines an Internet Applicant as any individual who:
- Communicates interest in employment through the Internet
- Is considered by the contractor for employment in a specified position
- Indicates possession of the positions basic qualifications
- Does not remove himself or herself from consideration for the position
Under the Internet Applicant Rule, federal contractors must solicit demographic, ethnic, racial, and gender information about such applicants, and retain records of this information. Contractors must also retain records of their hiring decisions.
The Internet Applicant Rule defines “basic qualifications” as those qualifications that the contractor either advertised or established in advance. Furthermore, such qualifications must also be noncomparative, objective, and relevant. “Noncomparative” means that applicants must all meet the same qualification, such as having the same minimum number of years of experience. “Objective” means that qualifications are not a result of the contractor’s subjective decision. An example given by the Department of Labor is: “’a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting’ is objective, while ‘a technical degree from a good school’ is not. “Relevant” means that the qualifications relate directly to the position and allow the contractor to meet business-related goals.
A contractor that attempts to remove itself from consideration by maintaining employment standards that appear to cause a disproportionate number of applicants from a particular gender, racial, or ethnic group will be required to justify those standards.