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Changes to the Rehabilitation Act Will Allow More Job Opportunities for Those With Disabilities

September 3, 2013

On August 27, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced a Final Rule that makes changes to the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Section 503) at 41 CFR Part 60-741. Section 503 prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities, and requires these employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these individuals. The Final Rule strengthens the affirmative action provisions of the regulations to aid contractors in their efforts to recruit and hire individuals with disabilities and improve job opportunities for those individuals, as well. Thus, the rule also makes changes to the nondiscrimination provisions of the regulations to bring them into compliance with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

The rule will become effective 180 days after its publication in the Federal Register. However, current contractors with a written affirmative action program already in place on the effective date have additional time to come into compliance with the requirements. 

Critics of this new rule are concerned with the regulations prohibiting employers from inquiring as to an individual’s disability when interviewing a job candidate. Despite this concern, the U.S. government has praised the rule by acknowledging the number of disabled workers in the workforce, and stressing that this new regulation with provide greater opportunities for those with disabilities. 

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