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EEOC Publishes Dual Reports on Disabilities in the Federal Workforce

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has unveiled two comprehensive reports shedding light on the status of individuals with disabilities within the federal workforce.

Entitled “Optimal Strategies for Leveraging Schedule A to Recruit, Employ, Promote, and Retain Individuals with Disabilities,” the first report delves into the utilization of Schedule A hiring authority by agencies to appoint job seekers with specific disabilities to federal roles outside the competitive recruitment process. Additionally, “Examining the Influence of Telework on Personal Assistance Services” underscores the significance of programs designed to aid current employees with targeted disabilities—such as deafness and paralysis—in carrying out essential life activities during work hours, like self-care and eating.

DC Employment Lawyers advise, adherence to Schedule A hiring mandates necessitates job applicants to possess documented disabilities, encompassing a wide spectrum of intellectual, severe physical, or psychiatric impairments. The EEOC offers a comprehensive guide for employers, service providers, and prospective candidates on navigating the intricacies of Schedule A, which DC Employment Lawyers suggest employers review in detail. 

Under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, federal agencies are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of disability. In line with this statute and EEOC regulations, agencies are mandated to ensure that at least 12% of their workforce comprises individuals with disabilities (PWD), with an additional 2% dedicated to individuals with targeted disabilities (PWTD). Despite notable advancements in participation rates in recent years, they still fall short of the EEOC’s hiring benchmarks. According to the EEOC’s FY 2020 Annual Report on the Federal Workforce, PWD participation rates ascended from 8.70% in fiscal year (FY) 2016 to 9.45% in FY 2020. Likewise, for PWTD, participation rates escalated from 1.01% in FY 2016 to 1.84% in FY 2020.

Dexter Brooks, associate director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, emphasized, “The EEOC and the Administration are dedicated to advancing equity for employees with disabilities and ensuring that the federal government sets a prime example as an employer for persons with disabilities. This report stands as a testament to our commitment under Executive Order 14035 to furnish technical guidance and bolster the application of Schedule A hiring authority. Agencies can leverage the enumerated best practices to bolster the employment prospects of individuals with disabilities.”

The report on telework and Personal Assistance Services (PAS) programs across 71 federal agencies spotlighted the successful adaptation of PAS initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic and the eradication of employment barriers in accordance with Section 501.

Typically delivered in-person, PAS programs encountered minimal disruption during the pandemic-induced telework arrangements, with most agencies reporting unhindered delivery of PAS accommodations. A revision to the Rehabilitation Act mandated all agencies to implement PAS procedures by January 3, 2018.

“PAS programs offer indispensable support to federal employees with targeted disabilities, enabling them to maintain productivity at work,” remarked Brooks. “Augmenting the funding and staffing of federal PAS programs may foster a more inclusive federal workforce and afford employees with disabilities equitable access to employment benefits and privileges.”

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