Once again responding to a catastrophic natural disaster, Craig Leen, Acting Director of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), has issued a memorandum to all federal contracting agencies giving them permission to waive written affirmative action program (AAP) requirements regarding contracts for California wildfire relief efforts.

The so-called National Interest Exemption (NIE) waiver period is for three months, or until February 19, 2019, and is subject to further extension if “special circumstances in the national interest so require.” More specifically, federal contracting agencies are permitted to amend the required Executive Order (E.O.) 11246, Rehabilitation Act (Section 503), and Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) equal opportunity (EO) contract clauses by adding OFCCP-prescribed language exempting the contractor from the obligation to develop written AAPs.

The California wildfires exemption and waiver apply to federal supply and service contractors as well as construction contractors. As has been the case with its previous NIE waivers, OFCCP will maintain jurisdiction over affected contractors to investigate discrimination complaints, and supply and service contractors are still subject to certain provisions in the EO clause to inform employees of their rights, keep records, and list open positions with state job boards.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.