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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Justice Dept Reaches Settlements with Public Entities in Utah, and New Mexico to Remove Barriers to Employment for People with Disabilities

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Justice Department Reaches Settlements with Three Public Entities to Remove Barriers to Employment for People with Disabilities
The Justice Department announced today that it reached settlement agreements with the city of Parowan, Utah; the city of EspaƱola, New Mexico; and the village of Ruidoso, New Mexico.  The agreements resolve investigations of each public entity under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The investigations found that each jurisdiction’s online employment application asked questions about disabilities in violation of the ADA.  The ADA does not permit employers to inquire as to whether an applicant is an individual with a disability or as to the nature of such disability before making a conditional offer of employment.  Under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, however, federal contractors subject to affirmative action requirements must invite an applicant voluntarily to self-identify as an individual with a disability, consistent with certain requirements. 
Two investigations also found that the public entity’s online employment opportunities website or job applications were not fully accessible to people with disabilities, such as those who are blind or have low vision, are deaf or hard of hearing, or have physical disabilities affecting manual dexterity (such as limited ability to use a mouse).  In recent months, the department reached similar settlement agreements with the cities of DeKalb, Illinois; Vero Beach, Florida; Fallon, Nevada; Isle of Palms, South Carolina; Hubbard, Oregon; and Florida State University. 
“These agreements ensure that job applicants with disabilities will have an equal chance to compete for jobs in the public sector and won’t face illegal questions,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “We commend each public entity for its cooperation in making the job application process more accessible.”   
Under the settlement agreements, each public entity agrees to ensure that its hiring policies and procedures do not discriminate against any applicant on the basis of disability, including by:
  • not conducting a medical examination or making a disability-related inquiry of a job applicant before a conditional offer of employment is made;
  • not requiring a medical examination or making inquiries of an employee as to whether such employee is an individual with a disability or as to the nature or severity of the disability, unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity;
  • maintaining the medical or disability-related information of applicants and employees in separate, confidential medical files; and
  • training employees who make hiring or personnel decisions on the requirements of the ADA, designating an individual to address ADA compliance matters, and reporting on compliance.
Parowan and Ruidoso must also ensure that their online employment opportunities website and job applications conform with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, which are industry guidelines for making web content accessible.
Those interested in finding out more about the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 FREE (TDD 800-514-0383 FREE) or visit www.ada.gov.

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