Federal Manager's Daily Report

Starting January 3 agencies are required to comply with rules issued by the EEOC regarding agency obligations for employees and job applicants with disabilities.

While the rules technically already are in effect, the EEOC gave agencies 12 months from their issuance early this year to review and modify their policies and practices before making them enforceable.

The rules require each federal agency to adopt the goal of having 12 percent of its workforce be people with disabilities, and 2 percent of its workforce be people with “targeted” disabilities (which include various developmental and physical disabilities, disfigurement, certain psychiatric disorders and other specified categories). The goals apply at both higher and lower salary levels.

The rules also specify situations in which an agency is obligated to provide personal assistance services, which help with basic activities such as eating and using the restroom and which are separate from services that help the individual perform job-related tasks.

The definition of “disability” is the same as under the Americans with Disabilities Act including various kinds of mental and physical medical conditions, which do not have to be permanent or severe to qualify. “The standards for determining whether a federal agency has discriminated on the basis of disability also are the same as those under the ADA.