Federal workers with disabilities are treated worse than ever before under Trump


Firings of federal workers with disabilities have skyrocketed during the Trump administration.

The Trump administration is waging war against federal workers on multiple fronts. One of its latest moves is a staggering increase in the firing of federal workers with disabilities.

NBC News reviewed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) documents that showed 2,626 full-time federal workers with disabilities were fired in 2017, a 24% jump over 2016, when Obama was still president. And it isn't just that those numbers are higher than past rates of firings for workers with disabilities; it's also nearly twice the rate of those without disabilities.

Under Obama, the federal workforce made great strides in hiring people with disabilities. Obama committed to hiring 100,000 federal workers with disabilities over five years. The administration succeeded — and exceeded their goal — hitting 109,575 employees by the end of 2016.


To be fair, the Trump administration has continued to hire workers with disabilities at a brisk clip, but that's offset by the massive spike in firings. Also reflective of a problem is a 20% increase in disability discrimination claims since he took office.

The administration is also supposed to supply certain job-hunting aids, such as a directory of coordinators to help individuals with disabilities navigate the federal hiring process. When NBC called 50 coordinators listed on the website of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), nearly half were out of date and had disconnected or incorrect numbers.

Trump isn't any better for people with disabilities, even if they don't work for the federal government. While he's touted the fact that unemployment for Americans with disabilities has "reached an all-time low," it doesn't reflect several key things. For example, Trump has worked to undo many of Obama's initiatives in the private sector arena. Trump's Department of Justice said it would no longer enforce guidance issued under Obama that made states give people with disabilities accessible and integrated workspaces.

The Department of Education also plans to weaken rules that encourage placing disabled workers in "integrated workplaces" with nondisabled workers rather than putting them in segregated worksites.

Led by disabled veteran Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), dozens of Democrats have called on the administration to do better, saying that they aren't meeting their hiring goals for federal workers with "targeted" disabilities such as deafness, blindness, partial or complete paralysis, and intellectual disabilities. Those individuals comprise only a paltry 1.34% of the federal workforce.

With the disability community representing 1 in 5 Americans, Trump has to do much, much better in this arena. But will he?

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.