Promoting Opportunity for Veterans and Workers With Disabilities

by Secretary Tom Perez on August 27, 2013 · 7 comments

On my first day as secretary of labor, I made it clear that protecting and promoting opportunity for America’s workers is my top priority. Today, Vice President Biden announced two new actions that will do exactly that – strengthening civil rights laws to create more economic opportunity for veterans and people with disabilities.

For four decades, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act have prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of veteran status or disability. These laws have required federal contractors and subcontractors to affirmatively recruit, hire, train and promote qualified individuals.

classified job advertisement in a newspaperBut unfortunately, the laws haven’t always worked as intended. People with disabilities, who have an enormous contribution to make to our economy, and veterans, who have risked life and limb on our behalf, are still disproportionately represented among the unemployed and those out of the workforce entirely.

So the steps we are announcing will ensure that qualified workers have more meaningful opportunities to find, secure and keep good jobs. We are providing specific metrics to help contractors measure their progress toward achieving equal opportunity for people with disabilities and protected veterans. We are clarifying expectations, making legal requirements more effective and facilitating compliance with the law.

You can read the rules and other materials on our website at www.dol.gov/ofccp/VEVRAARule and www.dol.gov/ofccp/503Rule.

I believe promoting and protecting opportunity is only possible through collaboration, consensus-building and pragmatic problem-solving. And that has been exactly the protocol here − the department developed these rules through a multiyear process of stakeholder engagement and consultation.

Since 2010, the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has met with advocates, policymakers, employer groups, workers and job seekers. We listened to their stories about the challenges facing veterans and people with disabilities in the workforce, and we saw the limitations of the legal requirements designed to assist these populations. We also listened to contractors, and we made appropriate changes to address their concerns about how best to implement these necessary improvements.

We know that these regulations represent a change for contractors and we are ready to facilitate their success. OFCCP staff will be on hand to provide compliance assistance.

Being a federal contractor is a privilege − one that comes with the reasonable responsibility to abide by the law and provide equal employment opportunity to all workers. Today’s new rules make those expectations clearer and more meaningful. We will continue to work with all stakeholders as they implement these changes, promoting opportunity and access for millions of workers across thousands of workplaces.

These new rules are a win-win. They will benefit veterans and people with disabilities, who belong in the economic mainstream of the nation but have faced unfair barriers in the job market. They will benefit employers who do business with the federal government, increasing their access to a large, diverse pool of qualified workers. And they will benefit the entire nation, as these rules help us fulfill the American promise of equal opportunity for all.

 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chuck Hosmer August 28, 2013 at 12:32 am

VEVRAA is the most ignored benefit unknown to veterans. Veterans do not know of its existence. Federal contractors are paid to inform veterans. An unread poster does not constitute “adequate” internal dissemination of policy. Respectfully request that DOL/OFCCP publicize VEVRAA in the press.

2 Antione A. Johnson August 28, 2013 at 10:24 am

Dear Secretary,

This sounds great; but as the old adage says “action speaks louder than words” meaning that we as veterans deserve GOOD paying jobs. I am a 20yr army war disabled veteran, I used the GI Bill and earned my master’s degree in cognitive education, working with people with serious emotional, behavioral, and cognitive disabilities. My second year as an educator I earned the Colorado Teacher of the Year and the next year I was fired by a jealous administrator who was paranoid that I wanted his job. I was fired on two occasions with no justification as to why except “it’s not a good fit” in spite of empowering students to acheive, I left the teaching field because of this back stabbing. I have since worked for two contractors in essential jobs for low wages that did not pay me for my years of leadership experience nor my masters degree. The government contractors need to understand that veterans need more than just the leftover crumbs.

3 Bruce Cowan September 11, 2013 at 7:07 pm

2013 – Presently EPA is my employment failure on Old Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Executive Order (EO) 13548, and use of Schedule A Employment Promote Program that needs employment requirements to be successful.

Since May 1990 when I received B.S. degree in Environmental Science and Occupational Health I have been trying to use Special Disability Employment Programs the Calif. LEAP, Ticket-to-Work Program, and Schedule A with the no success for Federal EPA Schedule A, Cal EPA – Air Resources Board, other federal agencies. Schedule A is a noncompetitive and hiring authority use for agencies to promote (help or encourage) the hiring of individuals with disabilities but I conclude until it becomes a requirement or must hire individuals with disabilities it will not work.

4 Michael Albert November 19, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Since leaving the service, I went back to school. I graduated with honors getting my BS degree in Information Systems with a concentration in Homeland Security. I had hoped to go back into Government service. I did not get a GI bill. I have great student loans that are due. I find that none of these programs have helped me one bit. I have written Congressmen, Senators and anyone who I thought would help. I do not qualify for any assistance, yet all my creditors want me to pay. I have been out of work, and I have yet to see any help.

5 Lloyd Calderon December 9, 2013 at 8:05 am

Mr. Secretary, this is a big step in the right direction. I recently arrived in DC as a new employee w/the US SBA. Sometimes the public thinks that BIG government can fix everything but it can’t. What it can do, as this initiative demonstrates, is to keep working on the problem until a solution is reached. I applaud you and your agency for the work done. The next step is to work with state agencies of veterans’ services to ensure that we help the OFCCP meet the intent of the changes.

6 Charles Chambers March 24, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Someone needs to make this known to the recruiting industry. So long as employers are free to utilize recruiters to circumvent this policy directive, circumvention will be the order of the day.

7 Juan Donato Pena May 2, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Been working as a government contractor for 15 plus years and I’m collecting social security since 2010. I’m only 41 years of age and have mobility problems, but I do have a Masters degree and a Bachelors and currently working for my Pmp certification. I wonder If I qualify for Section 503 rehabilitation act so I can be a productive member to society.

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