Federal office gives vets, people with disabilities chance to self-identify

The federal government, through the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), recently issued new guidelines that expand the opportunities for individuals to voluntarily self-identify as protected veterans and/or individuals with disabilities, and to request reasonable accommodations. All organizations with federal contracts, including Penn State, will be required to provide notifications at several points throughout the employment life cycle. The multiple notifications are intended to ensure that applicants and employees are provided ample opportunity to voluntarily self-identify and to request consideration of an accommodation when they are comfortable doing so or due to updated circumstances.

Notifications of the ability to self-identify as a protected veteran and/or individual with a disability must now be provided to job applicants, those offered employment and all employees of the University. Completion of the forms associated with self-identification, however, is completely voluntary. Any information disclosed cannot be used in evaluating the applicant or employee, and the form confirms that an employee may voluntarily self-identify at a later date without consequence.

Penn State has always supported initiatives to assist individuals with disabilities and protected veterans.

“The multiple opportunities for disclosure may appear cumbersome at first blush, but it should be recognized that protected veterans and individuals with disabilities are often reluctant to self-identify either because they worry about potential discrimination from prospective employers or because they don’t want to be perceived as needing special consideration,” explained Kenneth Lehrman, Penn State's vice provost for affirmative action. “In the final analysis, the multiple opportunities will afford Penn State a clearer picture of how well our proactive efforts to recruit and hire veterans and individuals with disabilities are actually working.”

Last Updated April 12, 2014