Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act
On September 24, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance published a final rule changing the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act intending to reduce barriers to equal employment for people with disabilities. These regulations pertained to entities contracting with the federal government. The ruling:
- Established a goal of 7% utilization goal for individuals with disabilities
- Required government contractors to invite applicants to voluntarily disclose their disability prior to receiving an offer of employment or after receiving a job offer. Recognizing that some employees acquire a disability, contractors are required to invite employees to identify their disability on a reoccurring basis.
The Administration on Developmental Disabilities, now known as the Administration for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, in the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2011, funded 8 state systems change project to increase the number of transition aged youth entering competitive integrated employment and post-secondary education. This program, Partnerships in Employment, resulted in a variety of changes at the state and local level that included state and local policy development, new training and educational programs for educators, service providers, youth and families; and collaboration and coordination between state agencies to minimize duplication of services and the blending of funding sources for competitive employment.
Concurrently, the Office of Disability Employment Policy in the U.S. Department of Labor funded a cross-disability and cross systems change initiative known as the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP). On-site and virtual technical assistance are provided to improve or reform policy, funding and employment services practices.
Department of Justice Consent Decrees
Rhode Island was cited by the Justice Department for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act because the state was segregating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through their participation in sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs. Under the decree, RI agreed to provide supported employment--individual jobs in the general workforce, at minimum wage or higher for at least 20 hours a week. Transition services were to begin at age 14 and include internships, job site visits and mentoring to prepare students for employment. To fulfill the agreement, RI was expected to redirect the funds it expends in segregated services to community-based employment services. The agreement was noteworthy because it was the first in the country to address the rights of people with disabilities to receive state funded services in the community. The agreement between the DOJ and the State occurred in 2014 and gave the state 10 years to transform its system and comply with the consent decree.
Oregon reached an agreement with the Department of Justice in 2015 following the first-class action lawsuit in the country challenging a state-funded and administered employment services system that supporting sheltered workshops thereby violating ADA's integrated mandate. Eight individuals and the United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon and Southwest Washington filed on behalf of themselves and others who were in Oregon sheltered workshops or referred to these workshops. The Department of Justice moved to intervene in the case. As a result, 1,114 people in sheltered workshops were slated to receive jobs in the community at competitive wages, with the state having 7 years to comply with the decree.