ANNAPOLIS - In a private meeting at the Maryland State House, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Cari M. Dominguez yesterday signed a resolution aimed at enhancing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities nationwide in state government. By this agreement, the State of Maryland and the EEOC will jointly review Maryland's recruitment, hiring, and reasonable accommodations programs to identify best practices worthy of emulation by other states.
Beginning with Maryland, the EEOC is pioneering a series of federal-state government partnerships to further advance the New Freedom Initiative, President George W. Bush's comprehensive program of which employment is a critical component to fully integrate the nation's 54 million individuals with disabilities into all aspects of American life. The Commission's role will include consultation, outreach, and technical assistance. Currently, people with disabilities represent 17 percent of Maryland's working-age population.
"Governor Ehrlich is to be commended for his leadership, both in improving job opportunities for Marylanders with disabilities and providing a model for other state governments," said Chair Dominguez. "Serious employment obstacles to people with disabilities extend to every corner of our nation, and so must the commitment to implement solutions."
Governor Ehrlich said: "During Maryland's next legislative session, I will be proposing legislation to elevate the Governor's Office for Individuals with Disabilities to a cabinet-level department charged with unifying Maryland state policy regarding people with disabilities. This new Department will direct the creation of a statewide disability implementation plan that encompasses all levels of state government, resulting in measurable outcomes for quality, quantity, and sustainability over time. The strength of Maryland resides in the quality of life of each of its citizens with and without disabilities. Higher rates of employment among people with disabilities is a critical achievement necessary to secure our success in this endeavor."
In addition to Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and in state and local governments, the EEOC enforces the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the federal sector; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects workers age 40 and older from discrimination based on age; the Equal Pay Act of 1963; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Proactive prevention of discrimination is an important part of the agency's mission. More information about the Commission is available at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on December 16, 2003.
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