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State agencies ordered to increase hiring of disabled workers by 2018

The last several years have seen lawmakers at both the state and federal level taking a more proactive approach to helping disabled individuals secure employment.  

For example, the governors of California, Washington, Delaware, Oregon, Florida and Ohio have all recently signed orders calling for the hiring of more disabled people by state agencies, while back in 2010, President Obama called for the federal government to hire as many as 100,000 disabled individuals by 2015.   

This increased emphasis on "inclusive employment" is certainly understandable given the rather dismal statistics, which show that the national unemployment rate for disabled Americans is 13.3 percent, over twice the national average for non-disabled Americans.

Unfortunately, statistics closer to home show that Minnesota is lagging far behind the rest of the country when it comes to employing disabled individuals. Indeed, state agencies disability hiring levels sat at a mere 3.2 percent in 2013, well behind Iowa's 4.4 percent and Wisconsin's 5.8 percent disability hiring levels.

In recent developments, however, Governor Mark Dayton signed an executive order earlier this month calling on state agencies to increase their disability hiring levels to 7 percent by 2018.

In addition, the order also calls for hiring managers and human resource personnel working for the state to take part in specialized training concerning the recruitment and employment of disabled individuals, and for the office of the Minnesota Management and Budget to devise methods for state employees to update their disability status.

According to experts, one of the reasons behind these rather dismal state figures is likely that after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act back in 1990, state departments and divisions gradually became increasingly complacent, thinking that the ADA would prove sufficient by itself to combat any employment discrimination or other problems.

Dayton's recent move is being welcomed by disability advocates, many of whom are hopeful that it will spur much-needed change in both the public and private sector.

It's imperative for anyone who believes that they have been victimized by any type of workplace discrimination to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can explain their rights and examine the circumstances of their case.

Source: The Star Tribune, "Gov. Dayton orders state agencies to dramatically increase hiring of disabled workers," Chris Serres, Aug. 7, 2014

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