Federal Disability Laws and Regulations
According to the US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, five federal laws protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in employment and the job application process.
The US Department of Labor’s website provides more detailed summaries of these laws and a checklist for employers to determine which laws apply to their businesses.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act
- The Rehabilitation Act
- The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
- The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act
- The Civil Service Reform Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, state and local government services, and telecommunications
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title I of the ADA and has a section of their website dedicated to disability discrimination that summarizes the ADA provisions it enforces and provides access to related publications and resources.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) enforces Title II of the ADA. DOJ's ADA Title II Page offers resources on all aspects of the ADA, including those addressing state and local government employment-related responsibilities under Title II.
The Rehabilitation Act
Originally created in 1973, the Rehabilitation Act includes three sections that prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities by specific types of employers: Section 501 for federal agencies; Section 503 for employers/businesses contracting with federal agencies; and Section 504 for programs receiving federal financial assistance.
Each federal agency enforces Section 501 for its own job applicants and/or employees. For additional information on specific Section 501 policies, contact the relevant agency's Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration enforces Section 503. Compliance assistance information is available on OFCCP's Web site.
The federal agency providing the financial assistance or conducting the program/activity enforces Section 504. For additional information on specific Section 504 policies, contact the relevant agency's EEO office.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
Consolidates federal job training and employment programs. WIOA's Section 188 prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities who apply for, participate in or are employees of any program or organization that receives federal financial assistance under WIOA or that provides programs/activities as part of the One-Stop system.
The Department of Labor's Civil Rights Center enforces Section 188. For additional information, including a self-assessment checklist for covered employers and programs, see the Civil Rights Center's Web site.
The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA)
Requires employers that have federal contracts or subcontracts entered into before December 1, 2003 of $25,000 or more and/or federal contracts or subcontracts entered into on or after December 1, 2003 of $100,000 or more to provide equal employment opportunities for certain veterans with disabilities. VEVRAA's Section 4212 specifically prohibits discrimination against covered veterans with disabilities in the full range of employment activities.
OFCCP enforces VEVRAA. Compliance assistance information is available on OFCCP's Web site.
The Civil Service Reform Act (CRSA)
Contains several rules designed to promote fairness in federal personnel actions and prohibit discrimination against applicants and employees with disabilities.