Organizations accomodating people with disabilies

This definition is broader than the above-listed "targeted" or severe disabilities that the federal government has identified for special emphasis in affirmative action and data collection. The fact that a function is listed in a job description as essential is relevant, but not necessarily controlling.

It is also broader than the severe disabilities eligible for Schedule A appointment authority discussed below. The following are answers to frequently-asked questions from managers and employees about affirmative action and non-discrimination provisions of the Rehabilitation Act applicable to applicants and employees with disabilities. Must a federal agency have an affirmative action program for individuals with disabilities that establishes specific hiring and advancement plans? Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act requires all agencies, regardless of their size, to have an affirmative action program plan for individuals with disabilities.

For EEOC's recent assessment of agencies' efforts and specific suggested program improvements, see (January 2008), What are some specific steps federal agencies may take to achieve their affirmative action goals for hiring and advancement of individuals with disabilities? In making hiring, promotion, or other employment decisions, may a federal agency give an advantage to individuals with disabilities? Although an agency is not required to prefer individuals with disabilities for hire or promotion, it may do so.

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For example, an employee with diabetes that substantially limits her in the major life activity of eating would be an "individual with a disability" protected against discrimination under Section 501, even though she would not have a "targeted disability." including "modifications or adjustments to a job application process," "the work environment," "the manner or circumstances under which a position held or desired is customarily performed, or to enable an employee with a disability "to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment." Employers may be required to remove a marginal, but not an essential, function as a reasonable accommodation. Moreover, MD-715 requires those agencies with 1,000 or more employees to establish a special recruitment program with specific goals for the employment and advancement of individuals with targeted disabilities, and to submit their special program plan annually to the EEOC.

Relevant factors to consider in determining if a function is essential include but are not limited to the following: whether the reason the position exists is to perform that function; the number of people available to perform the function or among whom it can be distributed; the degree of expertise or skill required to perform the function; the employer's judgment as to which functions are essential; written job descriptions prepared before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job; the time spent performing the function; the consequences of not requiring the employee to perform it; the terms of any applicable collective bargaining agreement; the work experience of past incumbents in the job; and/or the current work experience of incumbents in similar jobs. These goals should be set in a way that will achieve measurable yearly progress, accounting for attrition and for the distribution of individuals with disabilities in the agency's overall workforce, and in particular segments and levels with an under-representation.

To assist agencies in reporting under MD-715, EEOC's Office of Federal Operations (OFO) provides tools and assistance to agencies to help them analyze their work forces and uncover barriers to equal employment opportunities.

Once barriers are identified by agencies, OFO collaborates with them to develop creative strategies to eliminate or reduce the impact of identified obstacles.

The results - which must specifically address how an agency will make substantial progress in promoting the employment of qualified individuals with disabilities at all levels of the federal workforce - are reported to EEOC for review and analysis.

The text of MD-715, EEOC's MD-715 instructions, and a user-friendly guide entitled , are available at Despite these efforts, the percentage of federal employees with targeted disabilities has declined since it reached its peak of 1.24 percent in fiscal year 1994 (32,337 employees).In fiscal year 2007, federal employees with targeted disabilities comprised only 0.92 percent (23,993 employees) of the federal workforce.Such individuals also may file a lawsuit in court, but only after filing an administrative charge. Bush signed into law the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.Drawing on actual experiences to provide practical examples, this publication provides an overview of legal issues that affect the hiring and advancement of people with disabilities in the federal government.

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