Affirmative Action for Federal Hiring of People with Disabilities

An important announcement

PRESS RELEASE

1-3-17

EEOC Issues Regulations on the Federal Government’s Obligation to Engage
in Affirmative Action for People with Disabilities

New Rule Implementing Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act Sets
Employment Goals for Federal Agencies

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today
published regulations explaining what federal agencies must do to comply
with their legal obligation to engage in affirmative action in employment
and otherwise serve as "model employers" for individuals with
disabilities. The regulations do not impose any obligations on private
businesses or state and local governments. EEOC has also published a
question-and-answer document on the regulations.

Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to create
affirmative action plans for the employment of people with disabilities,
and to submit those plans to EEOC for approval. On May 15, 2014, EEOC
published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) asking for
public input on how the EEOC should revise its regulations to clarify what
an affirmative action plan must include. On Feb. 24, 2016, the Commission
proposed regulations based on the input received, and sought further
public comment on their proposals in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Today, the final regulations reaffirm the federal government’s commitment
to being a model employer of people with disabilities. The rule
consolidates existing requirements from a variety of sources, such as the
existing requirements that federal agencies have written reasonable
accommodation procedures and seek out qualified job applicants with
disabilities. The regulations also include new representation goals for
employees with disabilities in the federal workforce and enhanced support
requirements that will enable more persons with disabilities to seek
federal employment.

The regulations set goals for federal agency workforces of 12 percent
representation for individuals with disabilities and 2 percent for
individuals with "targeted" disabilities. Targeted disabilities are
defined as disabilities that the government has, for several decades,
emphasized in hiring because they pose the greatest barriers to
employment, such as blindness, deafness, paralysis, convulsive disorders,
and mental illnesses, among others.The goals apply at both higher and
lower levels of federal employment.

The regulations also require federal agencies to provide personal
assistance services to employees who need them to perform basic human
activities at work, such as eating and using the restroom. These services
will allow individuals with significant disabilities to enjoy the
opportunity and independence of paid employment, which may reduce the
amount of taxpayer funds spent on public disability benefits.

"Increasing employment rates for individuals with disabilities is a
national priority for the federal government," said EEOC Chair Jenny Yang.
"These new regulations provide concrete steps and accountability
mechanisms to promote employment and advancement opportunities for people
with disabilities across the government. The federal government is
committed to leading by example and creating a workplace where people with
disabilities can thrive."

Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum, who led an internal work group that
developed the regulations, added, "Too many people with disabilities who
have the skills and the desire to work remain unemployed or underemployed.

These regulations create new opportunities for people with disabilities to
achieve the satisfaction and economic self-sufficiency that comes with
employment, particularly by setting employment goals for people with
targeted disabilities and providing personal assistance services to those
who need them in the workplace."

To give agencies sufficient time to come into compliance, the rule will
become effective on Jan. 3, 2018. EEOC also will provide agencies with
training and technical assistance to support their compliance efforts.

EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws
prohibiting employment discrimination.

The new Regulations can be accessed online at:
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/03/2016-31397/affirmative-action-for-individuals-with-disabilities-in-federal-employment

Question and Answer Document on the Regulations available online at:
https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/qanda-ada-disabilities-final-rule.cfm

Source: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-3-17.cfm

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