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DOL: Then, Now and Next

March 1913 was a milestone month for American businesses and workers.  That month, President William Howard Taft — on his last day in office — signed legislation creating the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), giving workplace issues a direct seat at the President's cabinet table for the first time.

Although the nature of work in America has changed significantly since that time, DOL's purpose has not.  A century later, it still works to advance employment opportunities for American workers and ensure their workplaces are safe and fair.  DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), founded in 2001, works each day to ensure these guiding principles extend to America's more than 50 million people with disabilities.

The right to equal opportunity in employment for people with disabilities is enshrined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which laid the foundation for ODEP's establishment and underpins all of its work.  A key aspect of this work is assisting employers and individuals with disabilities in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law.

ODEP's Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert and confidential guidance on reasonable workplace accommodations — a critical component of the ADA as it relates to employment.  Employers can also find resources related to hiring and retaining people with disabilities by accessing the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN), a service of ODEP's National Employer Technical Assistance Center.

Through these and other resources for employers, including small businesses, ODEP aims to ensure that people with disabilities can continue to contribute to America's workforce — and that businesses can benefit from their talent and skills — for the next 100 years.

DOL is implementing a variety of initiatives to mark its 100th anniversary throughout 2013.  To learn more, go to www.dol.gov/100/.

For additional news and resources, sign up for ODEP's e-mail updates.