Get Ready for a Huge Change in Disability Employment
While the American Disabilities Act ensures that employers can’t discriminate against people with disabilities, this doesn’t mean that discrimination has been wiped out from the workforce completely. In fact, ask any person with a disability what their experience is like finding employment, and you’ll hear a litany of horror stories ranging from inaccessible offices to outright discrimination.
Fortunately, big changes are about to happen in the world of disability employment—and it’s considered to be a huge coup in the Disability Rights Movement.
The Obama Administration is pushing forward with legislation that will require federal contractors and government businesses to increase the number of people with disabilities in the workplace. Many federal contractors will be required to have a disabled workforce that makes up at least seven percent of the total number of employees within an organization. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that as many as 585,000 jobs could be introduced to the disabled community within the first year of this bill going into law.
According to Patricia Shiu, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is too high to be acceptable. That’s why the new legislation would require specific measures to demonstrate that they’ve complied with federal law. Previously, legislation only required businesses to make a good faith effort to employ people with disabilities—an effort, it seems, that wasn’t enough.
Businesses that have more than $50,000 in federal contracts and at least 50 employees are required to actively recruit, train and retain people with disabilities. Contractors who fail to show proof that they’ve met the seven percent requirement could lose these government contracts.
While some businesses are rallying against the legislation (many are even considering legal action), it’s an important step that the government is taking to ensure that people with disabilities are given the same employment opportunities and protection as women and minorities.
What do you think about the new legislation?