U.S. Justice Department: Guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Employment Services for People with Disabilities
As we commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Justice Department announced today that it has issued guidance to explain how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)’s “integration mandate” applies to public employment and day services. The integration mandate requires state and local governments to provide services to people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate.
Integrated employment services can help people with disabilities work in typical jobs where they can interact with non-disabled coworkers, customers and peers. Integrated day services allow people with disabilities to engage in community activities of their choosing — like social, educational, recreational or cultural activities — when they are not working. As the guidance describes, the ADA requires state and local governments to make their employment and day services available in the most integrated setting appropriate to each person’s needs.
Nationally, however, many people with disabilities spend most of their time receiving public services in segregated settings like sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs. Sheltered workshops are segregated facilities that primarily or exclusively employ people with disabilities. In facility-based day programs, people with disabilities participate in non-work activities with other people with disabilities. These settings separate individuals from the community and provide little or no opportunity to spend time with people without disabilities, other than paid staff.
“Simply put, people with disabilities are entitled to work alongside their friends, peers and neighbors without disabilities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Employment is fundamental to contributing to and being fully included in society, This guidance makes clear that the ADA requires that people with disabilities have access to the integrated services they need to contribute, grow and advance in typical workplaces throughout the country.”
The Civil Rights Division has published this guidance to help state and local governments understand their nondiscrimination obligations and people with disabilities understand their rights under the federal law in this area. The guidance provides an overview of the ADA, the integration mandate and the types of employment and day services that are often offered to people with disabilities. It then answers nine questions about how the ADA applies to those service systems. For example, the guidance explains:
- The ADA’s integration mandate applies to public employment and day services.
- The most integrated employment setting under the ADA is the one that lets people with disabilities spend time with non-disabled people as much as possible.
- People with disabilities who receive services in segregated employment or day services settings should receive accurate information about integrated employment options.
The guidance may be found at www.ada.gov/resources/olmstead-employment-qa/. A Federal Register notice discussing the guidance will be forthcoming. To learn more about the ADA, call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-833-610-1264 (TDD), or access the Justice Department’s ADA website at ada.gov.