Trump Administration Accused Of ‘Falling Short’ On Disability Hiring
Members of Congress are accusing the Trump administration of hiring too few workers with disabilities and disproportionately firing those with special needs employed at federal agencies.
In a letter sent this week, more than two-dozen Democrats said that they are particularly concerned about the fate of workers with targeted disabilities, a category that includes those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other conditions that the government has prioritized hiring because these individuals often face the most difficulty in the workforce.
“We are concerned that the federal government is falling short in its efforts to hire more workers with targeted disabilities and, even more troubling, may be removing these workers during their probationary period at rates higher than those for nondisabled workers,” reads the letter to Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management Margaret Weichert.
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The federal government has committed to being a model employer of people with disabilities and has a stated goal of ensuring that at least 2 percent of workers at government agencies have targeted disabilities, the lawmakers said.
However, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who spearheaded the letter, said that data provided to their offices suggests that 1.34 percent of federal workers had targeted disabilities in 2017 even after the Office of Personnel Management and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission broadened the category’s definition the year prior.
“Even more troubling, the same data appears to show that in 2017, workers with targeted disabilities may have been involuntarily removed from their positions at double the rate of those without disabilities,” the letter states.
The lawmakers are now requesting up-to-date information on the participation rate of employees with targeted disabilities in the federal workforce and they are asking for information about all employees who have been removed from their positions, voluntarily or not, dating back to 2015.
“Many of these workers are prone to unemployment and underemployment as a result of their disability,” the correspondence to Weichert indicates. “Therefore, we request additional information to better understand the current administration’s efforts to hire and advance these workers.”