In a new FAQ last week, OFCCP provided federal contractors with guidance on employment preference for American Indians (Native Americans). Specifically,  OFCCP acknowledges for the first time that contractors can legally offer employment preference to “Indians living on or near an Indian reservation in connection with employment opportunities on or near an Indian reservation.”

To determine if an area is “near” an Indian reservation, OFCCP notes that includes “where a person seeking employment could reasonably be expected to commute to and from in the course of a workday.” Should this apply to a position, and the contractor publicly announces its preference in employment to Indians, this would not violate the equal opportunity clause.

OFCCP offers a number of additional pieces of guidance throughout the FAQ. Some of the more prominent insights include:

  • Federal contractors may NOT extend Indian preference to a specific Native American tribe
  • If the Indian preference has been publicly announced and the employer has a sufficient number of qualified Native American applicants, they do not need to consider non-Indian applicants
  • Employers should use the same self-ID collection for race and ethnicity they would if there was no Indian preference

Indian preference is not limited only to hiring. Federal contractors may expand this preference to a variety of employment-related actions. Beyond hiring, the preference permission includes promotions, terminations, reinstatement, layoffs, and reductions in force.

As with other outreach focuses, federal contractors should look to build relationships with these groups. Contacting local organizations specializing in helping Indian/Native American job seekers is vital. It is important to keep in mind, qualified individuals must be living “on or near an Indian reservation,” regardless of where the outreach group is located.

If you’re looking for assistance contacting diversity groups – including those focused on Indians/Native Americans – contact us to learn about LocalJobNetwork’s database of more than 20,000 community-based organizations. As with all OFCCP obligations, be sure you also understand what documentation is required for compliance as well.