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Federal Agencies Lax On Discrimination Enforcement, Agency Reports
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 18, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC--Federal agencies have not properly monitored disability discrimination complaints, and Congress has not properly monitored those federal agencies, claimed a report released Wednesday by the National Council on Disability (NCD).

The report, entitled "Rehabilitating Section 504", looked at how the federal government is handling Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act.

The Act was the first to consider the exclusion and segregation of people with disabilities to be a form of discrimination. It was also the first to declare that the federal government would take a key role to reverse and eliminate that discrimination. Section 504 prohibits federal agencies and federally funded programs from discriminating on the basis of disability.

NCD looked at five federal agencies -- Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, State and Justice -- and found that all have given low priority to enforcing Section 504. Thirty years after the Act became law, the federal government has no systematic way to track and investigate hiring complaints, and no reliable way to monitor whether programs receiving federal money are complying with the law.

None of the agencies had withdrawn funding from grantee programs that discriminate against people with disabilities, even though Congress gave them the power to do so in order to enforce the law.

NCD's report concluded that the government "would be much further along the road to eliminating discrimination based on disability had it used the full arsenal and range of remedies provided by Congress."

The report added that none of the agencies have been able to devote enough funding and resources to their Section 504 enforcement programs.

NCD is an independent federal agency that makes recommendations to the President and Congress on issues affecting Americans with disabilities.

Related resource:
"Rehabilitating Section 504" (National Council On Disability)
[PDF format requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader]

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