People with disabilities need good jobs too, and several U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) agencies assist people with disabilities in seeking meaningful work and succeeding once on the job. DOL also advises employers on effective strategies for recruiting and retaining qualified people with disabilities, as well as educates federal agencies and federal contractors and sub-contractors about their obligations related to affirmative action and nondiscrimination in hiring.
- Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
- ODEP’s vision is a world in which people with disabilities have unlimited employment opportunities.
- ODEP is the only non-regulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities.
- ODEP does not enforce any laws, but it does develop policies and share important information about effective practices to increase the recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities.
Two agencies within DOL enforce portions of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), among other laws—the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and the Civil Rights Center (CRC), which is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management.
- Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)
- OFCCP shares enforcement authority for Title I of the ADA with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations. The nondiscrimination standards of the ADA apply to federal employees under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. For more information about the ADA read “Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act”.
- OFCCP also enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 503). This law prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and requires them to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote and retain workers with disabilities. The nondiscrimination and general affirmative action requirements of Section 503 apply to all government contractors with contracts or subcontracts in excess of $10,000 for the purchase, sale, or use of personal property or non-personal services. Recent updates to Section 503 have also strengthened its affirmative action requirements. Contractors that have a contract or sub-contract of $50,000 or more and 50 or more employees must have an actual affirmative action program or plan. The regulations also include a utilization goal of 7 percent. That’s a “yardstick” against which federal contractors can measure their success in recruiting and hiring individuals with disabilities. Most federal contractors are covered by both Section 503 and the ADA. For more information, read these frequently asked questions about the Section 503 regulations.
- OFCCP also enforces the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), which prohibits employment discrimination against certain categories of veterans by federal contractors. Some veterans with disabilities are covered under this law. OFCCP has strengthened the VEVRAA regulations by making affirmative action requirements more specific and requiring contractors to establish benchmarks to measure their progress toward achieving equal opportunity.
- The EEOC is mainly responsible for enforcing the employment provisions of Title I of the ADA.
- Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, Civil Rights Center (CRC)
- CRC enforces several federal disability nondiscrimination laws, including Title II of the ADA as it applies to the workforce and labor-related practices of state and local governments and other public entities. In addition, the CRC enforces Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and laws that apply to recipients of financial assistance under Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
- Section 504 prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in employment and in their programs and activities. It also imposes affirmative disability-related responsibilities on recipients of federal financial assistance as well as federal programs and activities. The CRC specifically enforces the law as it relates to groups that receive financial assistance from DOL.
- Section 508 requires that electronic and information technology be accessible to people with disabilities. For more information, read “What is Section 508.”
- Section 188 WIOA Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Regulations prohibit disability-based discrimination by programs and activities that are offered as part of the public workforce development service delivery system. Title II of the ADA contains similar provisions applicable to public employers, and CRC enforces Title II as it relates to all programs, services and regulatory activities of organizations involving labor and the workforce.
- Employment and Training Administration (ETA)
- ETA provides grants and other services that offer job search assistance, provide supportive employment services and job training and connect employers with skilled workers.
- WIOA, which replaced the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, helps job seekers access the services they need to succeed in employment and connect employers with skilled workers. Under WIOA, low-income people and those with barriers to employment, including people with disabilities, are considered priority populations for funding and services.
- WIOA also amended Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to improve vocational rehabilitation agencies’ ability to work with employers, as well as with other entities providing services to individuals with disabilities, to support competitive integrated employment.
Both ETA and the U.S. Department of Education use WIOA to improve access to education and workforce services for individuals with significant barriers to employment—some veterans, individuals with disabilities, out-of-school and at-risk youth, and other populations—to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to get a good job.