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PRESS RELEASE
8-26-08

NEW EEOC PUBLICATION AIMED AT INCREASING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a new question-and-answer guide aimed at promoting the hiring and advancement of individuals with disabilities in federal government employment. The new publication is available on the EEOC’s web site at www.eeoc.gov/federal/qanda-employment-with-disabilities.html.

Announcing the resource publication for federal agencies, Commission Chair Naomi C. Earp said, “The EEOC is doing everything it can to provide agencies with useful guidance on how to be the nation’s model employer, providing equal opportunity to all Americans, including those with disabilities.”

The percentage of federal employees with targeted disabilities, which are severe physical or mental disabilities that historically have resulted in barriers to employment, has declined each year since reaching a peak of 1.24% in Fiscal Years 1993 and 1994. In FY 2007, the participation rate of people with targeted disabilities declined to 0.92% of the federal government’s total work force, the lowest participation rate in more than 20 years.

EEOC Commissioner Christine Griffin said: “Even though the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has long required federal agencies to engage in affirmative action to hire and advance individuals with disabilities, the federal government has failed to meet this challenge. We must and can do better. This question-and-answer guide will help agencies make concrete progress.”

Commissioner Griffin has overseen the EEOC’s LEAD Initiative (Leadership for the Employment of Americans with Disabilities), which aims to boost the ranks of individuals with disabilities in federal employment to 2% by 2010.

The question-and-answer guide issued today responds to frequently asked questions about what the law allows and requires federal agencies to do with respect to affirmative hiring and employment of individuals with disabilities. Among other topics, the publication discusses:

  • Special regulations that allow federal agencies to hire individuals with severe disabilities who are qualified for jobs without going through the usual competitive hiring process;
  • Procedures that agencies are required to have for providing reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities;
  • Specific types of accommodations that enable people with disabilities to work in federal sector jobs;
  • How an agency’s obligations under the Rehabilitation Act interact with obligations under other federal laws and how agencies should handle reasonable accommodation issues when they enter into relationships with other entities (such as other federal agencies or private companies that provide training for agency employees); and
  • The kinds of questions that agencies may (and may not) ask about an applicant’s or employee’s disability.

In January 2008, the EEOC issued a report entitled “Improving the Participation Rate of People with Targeted Disabilities in the Federal Work Force,” which provides practical guidance on steps agencies can take to increase hiring and advancement. The report is available on the EEOC’s web site at www.eeoc.gov/federal/report/pwtd.html. Further information about the LEAD Initiative is available online at http://www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/lead/index.html.

The EEOC monitors federal agency compliance with equal employment opportunity laws and procedures. Additional information about the EEOC and its role in the federal sector is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.