NYS Seal






Workforce issues and people with disabilities.


To determine if current laws, regulations and programs adequately protect and support people with disabilities in regard to employment.

Room 711-A
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY

Monday, June 2, 2008
10:00 AM

Since 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has impacted more than 50 million Americans living with disabilities in a number of ways. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, this represents nearly 19 percent of the population, or one in five U.S. residents. One of the primary functions of the ADA is to make it unlawful for employers to discriminate against disabled employees or potential employees in areas such as recruitment, job application procedures, hiring, firing, promotions, benefits, compensation, job training and job assignments. Unfortunately, after nearly two decades since the passage of the ADA, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains unacceptably high - as high as seventy percent for people with developmental disabilities and as high as ninety percent for those with psychiatric disabilities according to some estimates.

The myriad issues surrounding the employment of persons with disabilities must be looked at in the context of the ADA and its state counterparts in New York. Of all the antidiscrimination in employment statutes, such as Title VII, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 USC 1981 (race in contracts statutes and NYS Human Rights Law) that are in place and relevant to New York, some experts contend that the ADA has the worst rate of success in lawsuits brought by litigants and perhaps the lowest number of lawsuits brought. A 2003 report by the American Bar Association indicated that over 9 out of 10 times, employers won when their employees filed disability discrimination lawsuits against them. Thus, employers have little incentive to accommodate persons with disabilities in employment, because employers more often than not prevail in these cases. This would seem to indicate that while laudable in intention, the ADA has not been successful at protecting the rights of disabled persons in regard to employment, and more must be done to ensure that people with disabilities have access to a full range of employment opportunities.

Here in New York State, agencies such as OMRDD, VESID and the Department of Civil Service are responsible for several programs that are intended to address the employment challenges faced by disabled New Yorkers. These agencies oversee programs dealing with vocational training, job coaching, travel training, technological aids, counseling, job placement, etc. The current work of these state agencies will be examined to gauge the effectiveness of their programs.

The Committee and Task Force would like to hear from employees or persons seeking employment, employers, experts on employment issues and workplace discrimination, and other interested parties to determine if current law and regulation adequately protect persons with disabilities in regard to employment. The Committee and Task Force intend to gather information related to strategies and possible program changes necessary to adequately address the issue of employment discrimination against people with disabilities.

Please see below for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committee at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.

Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes in duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committee will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible. In the absence of a request, witnesses will be scheduled in the order in which reply forms are postmarked.

Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

Peter M. Rivera
Member of Assembly
Committee on Mental Health,
Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities

Susan V. John
Member of Assembly
Committee on Labor

Michele R. Titus
Member of Assembly
Task Force on People with Disabilities


  1. After several decades since its enactment, has the ADA been successful in protecting the rights of the disabled to access employment opportunities? If no, why not? Might there be amendments to the ADA that would improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities?

  2. What is the current rate of employment among persons with disabilities in New York State? Is New York a leader in providing employment or assisting in securing employment to disabled citizens?

  3. What could be done to decrease the level of unemployment among disabled New Yorkers? Does active discrimination against hiring people with disabilities limit employment opportunities?

  4. Statistics indicate that the vast majority of discrimination cases brought against employers by disabled persons are decided in favor of the employer. Is this an acceptable situation? What can be done to increase the likelihood of success on the part of a disabled person bringing a suit?

  5. OMRDD is tasked with offering a number of work-related supports to people with disabilities. Have these programs successfully expanded and improved employment opportunities for the disabled? What programs have had the most success, and which have not been effective?

  6. VESID and the Department of Civil Service are responsible for several programs that are intended to address the employment challenges faced by disabled New Yorkers. What is the status of such programs and have they been successful in securing employment for New Yorkers with disabilities?

  7. New technologies offer both challenges and opportunities to disabled job-seekers. Is New York doing all it can to take advantage of the types of work that offer new opportunities for disabled people? Is technology being exploited as much as it could?


Persons wishing to present testimony at the public hearing on workforce issues and people with disabilities are requested to complete this reply form as soon as possible and mail it to:

Bill Eggler
Senior Legislative Analyst
Assembly Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
Room 522 - Capitol
Albany, New York 12248
E-mail: egglerw@assembly.state.ny.us
Phone: (518) 455-4371
Fax: (518) 455-4693

box I plan to attend the public hearing on workforce issues and people with disabilities to be conducted by the Assembly Committees on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, Labor and the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities on June 2, 2008. I will not be testifying at the hearing.

box I plan to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 10 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.


I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

box I do not plan to attend the above hearing.

box I would like to be added to the Committee mailing list for notices and reports.

box I would like to be removed from the Committee mailing list.


I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility information. Please specify the type of assistance required:








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