One-Stop System: Legal Guidelines & Requirements for Serving People with Disabilities
Services and activities provided by the One-Stop system must comply with a number of regulations concerning provision of services for people with disabilities.
- As recipients of federal funds from the U.S. Department of Labor and other federal sources, the One-Stop system and One-Stop Centers must comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
- As activities provided or made available by state or local governments, the One-Stop System must comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- The One-Stop system must also abide by specific regulations on nondiscrimination and equal opportunity for services provided under the Workforce Investment Act [29 CFR Part 37], which focus not only on services for people with disabilities but address equal opportunity for a wide range of other groups and individuals.
The purpose of this piece is to specifically focus on the legal requirements of the One-Stop system and One-Stop Centers concerning provision of services to people with disabilities, with a general review of the legal requirements. Elsewhere in this section is a Policy Brief, Provisions in the Workforce Investment Act Relating to Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability and the Development by Governor of a Written Methods of Administration, which provides detailed excerpts and interpretation of these regulations.
The Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity regulations prohibit One-Stop Systems from discriminating against people with disabilities in the process of hiring One-Stop staff. However, the information contained in this piece focuses only on nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in delivery of services.
Please note: The information in this section is based on interpretation of various federal regulations and requirements and has undergone a through review process. However, it should in no way be interpreted as an official policy document or legal determination. One-Stop systems are advised to discuss specific legal issues with competent counsel.
IMPACT OF STATE AND LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS CONCERNING NONDISCRIMINATION
This piece contains information only on federal laws and regulations. Federal requirements are the baseline standards for nondiscrimination and equal opportunity. State and local laws and regulations may have additional requirements that the One-Stop system must comply with.
What do the regulations say?
- Need to anticipate needs of people with disabilities: The One-Stop system is required to have anticipated the needs of people with disabilities in the physical design of centers, as well as the design of services. Programs or activities of One-Stop Centers, when viewed in their entirety, must be readily accessible and useable by people with disabilities. What this means is that people with various physical and mental disabilities should be able to go into a One-Stop Center and use many of the available services, without having to make special requests for accommodations. In addition (as noted below in more detail), individuals do have the right to ask for accommodations to meet their own specific needs. [For information on accommodations, see "Job Accommodations".]
- Cannot refuse to provide services: A One-Stop Center may not refuse to provide services because the person has a disability. People with disabilities must have opportunities to participate in the programs and services of the One-Stop system that are as effective and meaningful as those provided to people without disabilities.
- Maximum integration: People with disabilities must be served in the most integrated setting as possible, in the same programs and services as everyone else, side-by-side with people without disabilities. The law does allow for the development of separate services or programming for people with disabilities, but only when this is deemed necessary to provide a person with a disability with services that are as effective as those provided to others. For example, a One-Stop Center can offer a job seeking skills class for people with disabilities that addresses disability issues.
- Cannot require participation in separate programs: Even when separate programs for people with disabilities are permitted, the person with a disability may refuse to participate in the separate program option, and has the right to use the same services that are offered to non-disabled individuals.
- No unnecessary eligibility standards or rules: Unnecessary requirements that tend to screen out individuals with disabilities, such as requiring a drivers license as the only acceptable means of identification, or a requirement that individuals must complete intake forms without assistance, are not allowed.
- No special requirements for people with disabilities: The One-Stop system may not impose requirements on people with disabilities that are not imposed on others. For example, a One-Stop Center cannot require that a person with disability always be accompanied by a support person, caregiver, or personal assistant.
- Special benefits are permitted: The One-Stop system and a One-Stop Center may provide special benefits, beyond those required by regulations, to individuals with disabilities. Examples include such things as additional one-on-one assistance, extra time beyond typical time limits for use of a computer work station, e-mailing or sending job listings to a persons home, etc.
- Must provide reasonable accommodations: The One-Stop system and One-Stop Centers must provide reasonable accommodations to customers with disabilities, unless providing the accommodation would cause undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments which allow a person with a disability to enjoy the same benefits of services as people without disabilities, such as more intensive staff assistance, provision of a sign-language interpreter, etc.
- Must make reasonable modifications: The One-Stop system and One-Stop Centers must also make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when the modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination unless making modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of services. For example, it is reasonable to modify a policy that registration materials must be filled out without assistance. However, if a One-Stop Center has a policy that people must work quietly in the resource library, it is not reasonable to make an exception to this policy for a person with a disability.
- Equally effective communications: The One-Stop system must ensure that communications with customers and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others. This means, among other things, providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services when needed (unless it would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of services or activities).
- Auxiliary aids and services include: qualified interpreters, assistive listening headsets, closed and open captioning on videos, telecommunications devices for deaf persons (TDDs and TTYs), computers that allow voice input and output, readers, taped texts, Brailled materials, videotext displays, and transcription services. For more information on telecommunications and computer accessibility strategies, see Section 3.
- The method or device desired by the customer should be given primary consideration, unless it can be shown that another effective means of communication exists.
- The One-Stop system and One-Stop Centers are not required to provide the newest or most advanced technologies as long as the auxiliary aid or service that is selected allows for effective communication.
- No extra charges: A One-Stop Center cannot charge a person with a disability a fee to cover the costs of providing accessibility. Examples: a One-Stop cannot charge a person who is deaf for the cost of a sign language interpreter; a person who needs specialized equipment (such as a voice output computer) cannot be charged for the cost of this equipment; if a person with a disability needs additional assistance from center staff in order to have access to One-Stop services, the individual cannot be charged for the extra staff time
- Procedures for Determination of Limits on Program Accessibility: If a local One-Stop system believes that it does not need to make facilities or services accessible because it would result in undue hardship (fundamental alteration in the nature of the program, or pose undue financial or administrative burdens), the following guidelines should be followed (per federal regulations):
- Direct service staff cannot decide that an action which would allow program access by a person with a disability is unfeasible. This decision must be made by a member of senior management. Local One-Stop systems should determine the appropriate official to make such decisions (the Center Director, Chair of the Local Workforce Investment Board, state oversight officials, etc.) and communicate this determination to all staff.
- The determination that undue financial burdens would result must be based on all resources available for use in the operation of the One-Stop Center. It is likely that in making this determination, arbitrators and courts would consider the resources of the states entire workforce development system, not just the funding available to an individual Center.
- If it is determined that an action would result in undue hardship, this decision must be given in writing to the individual or individuals who requested the accommodation. This statement must include the reasons that the accommodation would result in an undue hardship.
- The One-Stop Center must consider and take any other actions that would not result in undue hardship, but which would allow maximum access for the person with a disability to the services and programs of the One-Stop system.
- The view of the United States Department of Justice is that compliance with these program accessibility requirements would not, in most cases, result in undue financial and administrative burdens on a public entity such as a local One-Stop system.
- When determining that an action to make services accessible is unfeasible, it is recommended that that legal advice be sought from the U.S. Department of Labor Civil Rights Center (USDOL CRC) or other legal sources (see list of resources at the end of this piece).
- Compliance with MOA: Each states Governor is required to develop and adhere to a written Methods of Administration (MOA) document that specifies how the state will reasonably guarantee that programs under WIA (including One-Stop Centers) will comply with WIAs nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions. The contents of this MOA are covered by very specific requirements; items include how staff will be trained to ensure equal opportunity, and how the state will monitor WIA programs for compliance. Local One-Stop systems and One-Stop Centers must ensure that they comply with their states MOA.
- Requirement to have an Equal Opportunity Officer: Every One-Stop Center must designate an Equal Opportunity Officer, who should be a senior level employee of the One-Stop. Among other responsibilities, the Equal Opportunity Officer:
- Serves as a liaison with the U.S. Department of Labor Civil Rights Center [USDOL CRC]
- Monitors and investigates the One-Stops activities to ensure that the One-Stop is fully compliant with nondiscrimination and equal opportunity requirements
- Reviews the One-Stops written policies to ensure they are not discriminatory
- Develops and publishes the One Stops procedures for processing complaints
- Reports directly to appropriate officials (including the state WIA director and the Governors WIA liaison) about equal opportunity issues
- Participates in ongoing training.
How do the regulations actually impact One-Stop services?
- An individual with a disability who goes to a One-Stop Center must be provided the same orientation, registration, assessment, and any other services that are typically provided, in the same settings as everyone else.
- People with disabilities must be able to use the One-Stop Center library and other resources, and are entitled to receive information in formats and in a way that they can understand. For example, if an individual has dyslexia, information must be conveyed verbally; an individual who is blind, must receive written information in Braille or other format that allows them access to the information.
- People with disabilities are entitled to sign up for any open classes or workshops offered by the One-Stop Center.
- People with disabilities must be given equal consideration for all of the intensive and training services that are offered via the One-Stop system.
Can a One-Stop Center ask whether an individual has a disability?
Yes. In fact, inquiries about disability status are required. The reason is that the USDOL Equal Opportunity regulations (29 CFR Part 37.37(b)(2) require that programs or activities funded by DOL (such as One-Stops) collect a variety of demographic information about the individuals being served. This demographic information includes disability status. (Source: DOLETA TEGL No. 9-02, October 4, 2002). This data is considered to be confidential, but may be shared among One-Stop partners (in accordance with the partners regulations) to ensure effective service delivery. While inquiries about disability status are required, an individual may decline to respond to such questions. If an individual declines to indicate his/her disability status, the One-Stop must still provide services to the individual, and disability status cannot be used as a basis for excluding an individual from receiving services. This requirement is different from the employment provisions of the ADA under Title I, which prohibit employers from asking about the presence of a disability, prior to an offer of employment.
In addition to the requirement to collect demographic information, other reasons for inquiring about disability may include:
- to determine if the individual is eligible for special services or funding as a result of the individuals disability
- to ensure that accommodation needs are met so the individual can fully benefit from services.
For more information on this issue, see the piece "Asking About Disability and Respecting Confidentiality".
What disability statistics are One-Stops required to collect?
Each One-Stop must record the disability status (when known) of every applicant, registrant, terminee, applicant for employment, and One-Stop employee. This information must be stored in a manner that ensures confidentiality of information about an individuals disability status. Local One-Stop systems and One-Stop Centers must also maintain logs of complaints alleging discrimination.
Who enforces the equal opportunity regulations?
The Civil Rights Center (CRC) of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for administering and enforcing the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions in WIA and the implementing regulations and developing and issuing policies, standards, guidance, and procedures for effecting compliance.
Who may file complaints of discrimination and how are they filed?
Any person who believes that either he or she, or any specific class of individuals, has been or is being subjected to discrimination may file a written complaint, either personally or through a representative. The complaint may be filed with either the One-Stops Equal Opportunity Officer or the Director of the USDOL Civil Rights Center. The deadline for filing complaints is 180 days from the time the alleged discriminatory act happened.
What are the required elements of a One-Stop Systems complaint resolution procedures?
At a minimum, complaint resolution procedures must:
- Provide for a notice of final action within 90 days from the date the complaint is filed
- notice that complaint has been received;
- written statement of the issues and whether the One-Stop will accept or reject the issue for investigation
- a period for fact-finding or investigation
- a period for voluntary resolution
- a written notice of final resolution which must include a notice of right to file an appeal with the CRC
- Provide for alternative dispute resolution, such as an impartial mediator.
Requirements for Outreach and Marketing Targeted to People with Disabilities
As part of its efforts to provide universal access, One-Stops must do outreach and marketing to both the general public and specific populations, including people with disabilities. Examples of outreach noted in the regulations include:
- Advertising the One-Stop systems services in the media
- Sending notices about One-Stop services to schools and community service groups that serve people with disabilities
- Consulting with appropriate service groups (such as community rehabilitation providers, disability agencies, and advocacy groups) to determine how the One-Stop system can improve its outreach and services to people with disabilities and broaden the pool of people using One-Stop services.
What are a One-Stops obligations to disseminate its equal opportunity policy?
The One-Stop Center must provide notice that it does not discriminate on any prohibited grounds to:
- Registrants and applicants for services
- Participants in One-Stop system services
- Applicants for employment and employees
- Unions or professional organizations that hold collective bargaining or professional agreements with the One-Stop system
- Sub-recipients or subcontractors that receive WIA Title I funds from the One-Stop system
- Members of the public
This notice must be available in accessible formats, and the One-Stop system must ensure that communication of this policy to people with disabilities is as effective as communication with other people.
The equal opportunity policy notice must contain the following specific wording:
Equal Opportunity Is the Law
It is against the law for this recipient of Federal financial assistance to discriminate on the following basis:
- Against any individual in the United States, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation or belief; and
- Against any beneficiary of programs financially assisted under Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), on the basis of the beneficiarys citizenship/status as a lawfully admitted immigrant authorized to work in the United States, or his or her participation in any WIA Title I-financially assisted program or activity.
The recipient must not discriminate in any of the following areas:
- Deciding who will be admitted, or have access, to any WIA Title I-financially assisted program or activity;
- Providing opportunities in, or treating any person with regard to, such a program or activity; or
- Making employment decisions in the administration of, or in connection with, such a program or activity.
What to Do If You Believe You Have Experienced Discrimination
If you think that you have been subjected to discrimination under a WIA Title I-financially assisted program or activity, you may file a complaint within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation with either:
- The recipients Equal Opportunity Officer (or the person whom the recipient has designated for this purpose); or
- The Director, Civil Rights Center (CRC), U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Room N-4123, Washington, DC 20210.
If you file your complaint with the recipient, you must wait either until the recipient issues a written Notice of Final Action, or until 90 days have passed (whichever is sooner), before filing with the Civil Rights Center (see address above).
If the recipient does not give you a written Notice of Final Action within 90 days of the day on which you filed your complaint, you do not have to wait for the recipient to issue that Notice before filing a complaint with CRC. However, you must file your CRC complaint within 30 days of the 90-day deadline (in other words, within 120 days after the day on which you filed your complaint with the recipient).
If the recipient does give you a written Notice of Final Action on your complaint, but you are dissatisfied with the decision or resolution, you may file a complaint with CRC. You must file your CRC complaint within 30 days of the date on which you received the Notice of Final Action.
This notice must also include the Equal Opportunity Officers name and contact information.
Where must this notice be published?
At a minimum this notice must be:
- posted prominently in reasonable places where it will be available to customers
- disseminated in internal communications
- included in internal and external handbooks and manuals
- made available to each customer, and made part of each customers file
What information concerning equal opportunity must outreach materials include?
The One-Stop Center must indicate that it is an equal opportunity employer/program and that auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities in recruitment brochures and other materials that are ordinarily distributed or communicated in written or oral form. These materials must also indicate the telephone number of the centers TDD/TTY or relay service.
U.S. Dept. of Labor Civil Rights Center Contact Information:
Civil Rights Center (CRC)
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue NW, Rm N-4123
Washington, D.C. 20210
Phone: (202) 219-8927
You can also contact the Civil Rights Officer at your regional USDOL office (locations are listed in government pages of the phone book, and are also available at: www.dol.gov/dol/opa/public/aboutdol/offices.htm)
U.S. Department of Justice ADA Hotline
Voice: (800) 514-0301
TTY: (800) 514-0383
Web site: www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm
Call to obtain answers to both general and technical questions.
National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems
900 Second Street, NE, Suite 211
Washington, D.C. 20002
Voice: (202) 408-9514, Fax: (202) 408-9520
Web site: www.protectionandadvocacy.com
This is the national association for the Protection and Advocacy (P & A) Systems, which are federally mandated to protect the rights of persons with disabilities through legally-based advocacy. Every state and territory has a P & A. To find the P & A in your local area, contact NAPAS or consult the listing on their web site. P & As can help answer questions concerning the ADA and other legal issues for people with disabilities.
Additional ADA resources are listed in the resource section of this manual
Full text of the WIA Regulations on Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity: Implementation of the Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Provisions of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998; Final Rule; Part 37 of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations [29 CFR Part 37]; Federal Register, November 12, 1999. Available online at: www.dol.gov/_sec/regs/fedreg/final/99028202.htm