PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Government contractors' compliance with new federal affirmative action rules governing the hiring and recruitment of individuals with disabilities was the focus of a time sensitive industry panel discussion. Ballard Spahr and The Sierra Group's RecruitDisability program hosted the event, which featured panelists in the field of disability and employment practices.
The Rules represent the most significant changes in affirmative action recruitment requirements in the past 25 years. This update to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, takes effect March 24 and reflects a substantial regulatory overhaul by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
"These sweeping changes are important to government contractors. [The] event was filled to capacity within days of our first invitation," said Brian D. Pedrow, Esquire, a labor and employment partner at Ballard Spahr.
The panel was moderated by Edward J. Rogers, District Director of OFCCP's Philadelphia Office. Panelists included Mary Tiernan, Program Specialist, Philadelphia EEOC Field Office; Janet Fiore, President, The Sierra Group/RecruitDisability; Angela Lucas of JEVS Human Services; and Vondol Hammond and Kathleen Fogel of the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.
"This Rule change for companies who sell goods or services to the government has a 7% hiring goal, and other enhanced tracking requirements. Because benchmarks have now been set and will be monitored, the industry is taking notice," said Ms. Fiore. "This is a big change – but a win-win for individuals with disabilities looking to add their talents to America's workforce."
Attendees at the event were searching for answers and looking for assistance with this new area of required compliance. Major questions exist regarding where to find qualified candidates with disabilities and how to best interview and accommodate them. Additional questions arose regarding how temporary agencies and other subcontractors will be able to work to meet the new hiring goal for qualified job applicants with disabilities.
As panelists discussed the different services that they offered, Host Brian Pedrow reiterated the wealth of "free and readily available resources" that exist in our region, and nationally. Targeted job fairs, for instance, will be held in Philadelphia by PA OVR and The Sierra Group/RecruitDisability.org on March 6th and hireAbility/JEVS at Camden County Community College on March 20th.
Mary Tiernan, a panelist from the Philadelphia EEOC Field Office, added a wealth of information and resources which can be found on their website.
For copies of resources shared at the event please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sierra Group was founded in 1992 with a mission to improve the quality of life and employment for individuals with disabilities, and veterans in America. Sierra's consultants and Foundation reach thousands of individuals monthly with industry information, education, training, job opportunities, case management, compliance consultation, expert testimony and on site accommodation/assistive technology assistance. Sierra sponsored web portals include RecruitDisablity.org, TheSierraGroupAcademy.org, EmploymentIncentives.org and TheSierraGroup.com.
The Sierra Group
Emily Coder, Media Advisor
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SOURCE The Sierra Group Foundation