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Individuals with Disabilities Program

Background

On July 26, 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13548, which provides that the Federal Government, as the Nation's largest employer, must become a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities. The order directs Executive departments and agencies to improve their efforts to employ Federal workers with disabilities and targeted disabilities through increased recruitment, hiring, and retention of these individuals. The Executive Order also adopts the goal set forth in Executive Order 13163 of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities into the Federal Government over 5 years, including individuals with targeted disabilities.

In addition to the Executive Order, federal agencies are obligated under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended to affirmatively employ people with disabilities and to provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and qualified employees unless doing so would cause undue hardship. The specific requirements of this obligation are spelled out in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Management Directive (MD) 715.

The Disability Program is responsible for providing policy guidance and oversight to ensure the Department complies with these legal and statutory requirements. Also, through the Disability Program, the Department develops strategies to increase the recruitment, hiring, and retention of employees with disabilities, ensure procedures for the reasonable accommodation program and accessibility standards are met, and conducts inclusion and awareness training.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

NDEAM is observed each October to recognize and celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities and to educate on the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. NDEAM dates back to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." The return of service members with disabilities from World War II sparked the public interest in the contributions of people with disabilities in the workplace. In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. Then in 1988, Congress expands “National Employ the Handicapped Week” to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” To learn more about the origins and evolution of NDEAM and other important events in disability employment history, visit the timeline on the Department of Labor’s website at https://www.dol.gov/featured/ada/timeline/alternative.

Executive Orders

  • Executive Order 13078, Increasing Employment of Adults with Disabilities, March 13, 1998.
  • Executive Order 13124 - Amending the Civil Service Rules Relating to Federal Employees with Psychiatric Disabilities, June 4, 1999.
  • Executive Order 13164 - Requiring Federal Agencies to Establish Procedures to Facilitate the  Provision of Reasonable Accommodation, October 20, 2000
  • Executive Order 13548 - Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, July 26, 2010 -

Department of Commerce Administrative Orders

Laws

The text of Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-112) (Rehab. Act), as amended, as these sections appear in volume 29 of the United States Code, beginning at section 791. Section 501 prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the federal sector. Section 505 contains provisions governing remedies and attorney's fees under Section 501. Relevant definitions that apply to sections 501 and 505 precede these sections.

Section 508 requires that Federal agencies must ensure comparable accessibility to persons with disabilities whenever that agency uses electronic or information technology, unless such access would impose an undue burden. This web site contains the text of Section 508, as amended, as well as other materials.

  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) - Effective November 21, 2009 This law makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information. genetic information includes information about an individual's genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual's family members, as well as information about any disease, disorder or condition of an individual's family members (i.e. an individual's family medical history). The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) 

This law makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in employment (Title I), in public services (Title II), in public accommodations (Title III) and in telecommunications (Title IV). EEOC is responsible for enforcing Title I's prohibition against discrimination against people with disabilities in employment. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.

This law made a number of significant changes to the definition of “disability.” It also directed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to amend its ADA regulations to reflect the changes made by the ADAAA. EEOC provides information about the ADAAA.

Guidance and Regulations

Resources

Commerce Program Manager: Monique Dismuke