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PRESS RELEASE
10-20-04

NEW EEOC FACT SHEET ADDRESSES EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES

Dispelling Myths and Fears Can Promote Employment Opportunities

WASHINGTON - In observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released a fact sheet on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to persons with intellectual disabilities in the workplace. The new publication is available at www.eeoc.gov.

The term "intellectual disability" describes the condition once commonly referred to as "mental retardation." Approximately one percent of the United States' population, an estimated 2.5 million people, have an intellectual disability. Estimates indicate that only 31 percent of individuals with intellectual disabilities are employed, although many more want to work.

"More often than not, individuals with intellectual disabilities face barriers in the workplace posed not by mental impairments but by other people's attitudes," said Commission Chair Cari M. Dominguez. "With this fact sheet, the EEOC aims to break down myths, fears and misperceptions that stand in the way of employment opportunities and sometimes even lead to harassment on the job. People with intellectual disabilities want to work and have a lot to contribute. Employers who are not tapping into this community are missing out."

The new fact sheet addresses such topics as:

  • when an intellectual impairment is covered by the ADA;
  • when an employer may ask an applicant or employee questions about his or her intellectual disability;
  • what types of reasonable accommodations employees with intellectual disabilities may need on the job;
  • how to address safety concerns and conduct issues in the workplace; and
  • how an employer can prevent harassment of employees with intellectual disabilities.

This fact sheet helps to advance the goals of the New Freedom Initiative President George W. Bush's comprehensive strategy for the full integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of American life. The New Freedom Initiative seeks to promote greater access to technology, education, employment opportunities, and community life for people with disabilities. An important part of the New Freedom Initiative's strategy for increasing employment opportunities involves providing employers with technical assistance on the ADA. Information about other EEOC-driven activities under this program also is available on the agency's web site.

In addition to enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments, and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government, EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older; the Equal Pay Act; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.