Agencies Mark the 50th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor released today a commemorative resource guide about recruitment, hiring, and employment of individuals with disabilities, “Employment Protections Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: 50 Years of Protecting Americans with Disabilities in the Workplace.”
The EEOC and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) issued the guide to explain the key roles these agencies have in Rehabilitation Act enforcement, outreach, and education. The agencies work together to support and administer key provisions of the Rehabilitation Act, and to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive equal employment opportunities in the federal sector and federal contracting.
The resource guide includes important information about the Rehabilitation Act for workers and employers, where to turn for help, examples of best practices, links to relevant agency publications, and additional resources.
Fifty years ago, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 opened doors for many qualified individuals with disabilities to enter the federal and the federal contractor workforce for the first time. The law also was the model for Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which greatly expanded equal opportunities by prohibiting disability-based employment discrimination in private employment. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing Section 501 of Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits federal agencies from discriminating against individuals with disabilities at work. The law also requires agencies to take significant steps to eliminate disability-related barriers to employment.
“Individuals with disabilities have long faced unnecessary barriers to employment. The Rehabilitation Act helps ensure meaningful access and inclusion for qualified individuals with disabilities in the federal workforce,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “As we recognize the Act’s 50th anniversary by providing this helpful resource, the EEOC renews our commitment to enforcing this ground-breaking and vital disability rights law.”
ODEP promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities.
“Employers need talent now and jobseekers with disabilities have the skills to meet their needs,” added Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams. “This resource allows employers to build better, more inclusive workforces by expanding their recruiting methods to find the most qualified workers and adopt strategies that help them keep and advance their talents.”
OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities.
“By enforcing Section 503, OFCCP has assisted individuals with disabilities to obtain good-paying jobs with federal contractors,” said OFCCP Acting Director Michele Hodge. “As we mark this important anniversary, OFCCP is committed more than ever to identifying more ways we can connect people with disabilities to recruitment, hiring, training and equal employment opportunities. At OFCCP, we’re committed to ensuring Section 503 makes a transformative impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities for another 50 years.”
Learn more about ODEP and OFCCP.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.