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Thursday, February 21, 2013

EEO Laws - Rehabilitation Act of 1973


Some of those that are handicapped/handicapable face challenges and obstacles that are so disabling that they need protections and assistance beyond what is provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  This is where my post will pick up, as we discuss another EEO Law today.  As always, please feel free to leave a comment or an opinion in the area below.

EEO Laws - Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Designed initially to replace the older and more limited Vocational Rehabilitation Act, the act of 1973 extended services to the disabled to assist them in getting and maintaining employment.  The document states that the purpose of the Rehabilitation Act was to “to empower individuals with disabilities to maximize employment, economic self sufficiency, independence, and inclusion and integration into society.”  Qualified individuals with disabilities are protected by the law; those people having significant limitations in walking, seeing, breathing, working, etc. 

Services

Under the Act, the Rehabilitation Services Administration was established.  This organization is in charge of government grants and funding provided for the aid and rehabilitation of those with disabilities.  It is there to support the operations of various programs including independent living centers, service projects, and Randolph-Sheppard vending facilities.  (Side note:  Randolph-Sheppard vending facilities are government cafeteria and vending areas that are maintained by the blind.)

Employment Protections

Under my post on the ADA, we previously discussed how discrimination of the disable is illegal.  The protections offered for employment by the Rehabilitation Act are the same as those for the ADA.  Any disabled employee or applicant will need to meet the qualifications for the job.  Within reason, a disability may be accommodated for, but an employee would still be required to complete their work as assigned.  Those interviewing a disabled individual should match skills to job qualifications; focus on the person’s abilities versus their disabilities.

Accommodation

Similar to the ADA, Federal Agencies, Contractors, and Sub-Contractors are required to provide reasonable accommodation for those that are disabled.  So long as the accommodation does not provide undue hardship for the company, the employing organization is required to provide accommodation for the handicapped/handicapable.

Affirmative Action

The Rehabilitation Act looks specifically at those working directly for the US Government and associated contractors.  In addition to protection from discrimination, it also requires “affirmative action” in favor of the disabled.  Generally speaking any Federal government contractor or subcontractor with construction contracts greater than $10,000+, or non-construction contracts of $50,000+ is subject to the Affirmative Action dictates of the Rehabilitation Act.  This is

Complaints

Individuals may file a complaint against an organization subject to the Rehabilitation Act if they feel that they have been discriminated against.  The person that feels that they have been discriminated against has 180 days from the time of discrimination to file.  There may be exceptions to this time frame is good cause can be shown.  On the DOL website, there is a CC-4 complaint form that can be completed and filed.  You can review those procedures and the form here:  http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/pdf/pdfstart.htm   Failures discovered by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs may push through valid complaints, potentially resulting in payments to the discriminated individual and the loss of contracts.

All employers, especially those that have federal contracts, should ensure that they are in compliance with the Rehabilitation Act.

And remember all of you Human Resources professionals: Be Human... Be a Resource... Be a Resource for Humans.


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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are by the author Trevor Stasik, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any employer or any other organization. Please note, this information is based on my understanding and is only to be used for informational and educational purposes. Do not take what I am writing as advice. Seek your own legal counsel and/or see a tax accountant before making business or personal decisions. The author of this post makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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