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Discrimination may be jeopardizing disabled worker hiring goals

It can be difficult to curb illegal and discriminatory practices in the private sector. It would be easy to think that it is far less difficult to execute consistently fair hiring and employment practices in the public sector.

However, despite President Obama's 2010 executive order mandating that federal agencies hire more disabled workers, there are an increasing number of complaints alleging hiring discrimination toward applicants with disabilities.

The Obama Administration had set a firm goal back in 2010 that 100,000 additional disabled workers would be hired by the federal government by 2015. Agencies have made significant progress toward the achievement of that goal. In 2011, more disabled workers were hired by the federal government than ever before.

It is not exactly clear why complaints alleging hiring discrimination by disabled applicants for federal jobs are rising. What is clear, however, is that between the years of 2006 and 2011, these hiring complaint rates rose by one-third.

Other kinds of disability discrimination complaints by federal employees rose during this period as well. Specifically, complaints tied to performance appraisals rose a significant 37 percent, while reasonable-accommodation complaints rose 10 percent and disability-related harassment complaints rose by about 8 percent.

This trend is particularly confusing given that overall disability discrimination complaints reduced by approximately 6 percent between 2010 and 2011. But it is worth noting that these overall employment complaint numbers were calculated during a shorter, overlapping time period than the federal numbers.

At the end of the day, it seems that federal agencies need to capitalize on the more recent, overall trend and help to ensure that disability discrimination complaints in hiring and employment decrease significantly in the public sector within the coming years.

Source: Federal News Radio, "Uptick in disability discrimination claims could jeopardize hiring goals, firm says," Jack Moore, Oct. 15, 2012

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