Letter to Hon. Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the United States - Congressman Cohen Leads Letter to Attorney General Garland Seeking Reinstatement of Americans with Disabilities Act Employment Guidance


Dear Attorney General Garland,

We write to request the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ") reinstate critical guidance
describing state and local governments' obligations to administer employment services in the
most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of persons with disabilities, pursuant to Title II
of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v.

In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999) that Title II prohibits
the unjustified segregation of individuals with disabilities. In the years since, this integration
mandate has been applied in a wide variety of contexts, including to where people with
disabilities live, go to school, engage in recreational activities, and where they work.
In 2016, in accordance with federal court decisions and court-ordered settlement agreements, the
DOJ issued the "Statement on Application of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the
Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead v. L.C. to state and local Governments'
Employment Service Systems for Individuals with Disabilities." This important guidance
fulfilled the DOJ's responsibility to supply information and explanation to the entities it
regulates on settled applications of the ADA. Based on existing statutory, regulatory, and case
law in addition to court-ordered settlement agreements, the guidance served as a tool for states
and stakeholders to understand the landscape of federal law and to collaborate in rebalancing
employment service systems that significantly over-rely on segregated institutional employment

Unfortunately, in 2017, the DOJ rescinded the guidance, along with nine other ADA-related
documents, with no explanation or justification. At the time, over 200 disability organizations
sent a letter to the DOJ opposing the withdrawal of the guidance. Nevertheless, to date, it
remains rescinded.

Despite the ADA's promise of integration, the vast majority of federal disability services dollars
are spent on segregated employment and day services. In such settings, people with disabilities
typically do not interact with people without disabilities, except for paid support staff, and lack
access to economic self-sufficiency. Supported employment services, by contrast, help people
with disabilities secure and maintain competitive integrated employment, which is critical to
achieving the ADA's promise of integration. Most persons with disabilities are interested in
these services, yet many states continue to provide most employment services in sheltered
workshops, where people are segregated from the rest of the community, often earn a
subminimum wage, and have limited opportunities to develop job-related skills. These sheltered
environments do not aid people with disabilities in achieving competitive integrated
employment, which ought to be the goal.

We urge you to reinstate the guidance so that states can reduce their reliance on segregated
employment services and increase the provision of supports and services, such as supported
employment, that allow people to earn a competitive wage in integrated work settings.
Reinstating the guidance can only benefit regulated entities, since it would provide them with
clear examples and technical assistance to better understand the meaning of existing law. For
persons with disabilities facing barriers to work, including discrimination and segregation,
reinstated guidance could meaningfully improve their access to competitive integrated
employment. This is a critical step in realizing the ADA's promise of economic self-sufficiency,
equal opportunity, independent living and full participation in everyday life.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.