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August 27, 2019Advocacy Matters

Advocacy Matters: Overcoming Barriers to Employment

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender


August 27, 2019

Overcoming Barriers to Employment: Updates related to the EEOC, RSA and a new publication from the Center for American Progress

On August 1, 2019, the United States Senate confirmed 3 individuals to serve in high positions at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC receives complaints of discrimination in the workplace.

The Commission is made up of 5 individuals who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  Commissioner can initiate a charge of discrimination and the EEOC will commence an investigation and potentially a lawsuit under their direction.

President Trump nominated Charlotte Burrows to fill the remaining term of Chai Feldblum as a Commissioner on the EEOC.  Ms. Burrows was appointed to the EEOC by President Obama in 2014.  Her first term expired on July 1, 2019.

President Trump nominated Keith E. Sonderling to serve a term expiring July 1, 2024.

President Trump also nominated Sharon Fast Gustafson to serve as General Counsel of the EEOC.  Ms. Gustafson is an employment lawyer in private practice. The General Counsel provides overall coordination and supervision to the litigation filed by the EEOC.

All 3 individuals were confirmed by the Senate on August 1, 2019 by voice vote.  You can read more about the nominees on our website at

The President also appointed a new Commissioner to lead the Rehabilitation Services Administration at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

Mark Allan Schultz is the new RSA Commission.  The Commissioner was recently the RSA Director in Nebraska.  RSA is important to people with disabilities because they have oversight over all of our vocational rehabilitation agencies in the country.

To find out more about RSA and Commissioner Schultz, visit our website.


In July, the Center for American Progress published an update to their 2015 report entitled, “A Fair Shot for Workers with Disabilities.”  The report focused on the intersection between disability, poverty and employment.   The Center for American Progress challenges policymakers to rethink policies like the:

  •  14(c) certificate that allows agencies to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.
  •  Inconsistent definitions of disability to qualify for government programs.  These same definitions define people based on a medical model of disability and not based on identity.
  • Lack of access to transportation and affordable housing.
  • Continued stereotypes in the workplace and barriers to reasonable accommodations at work.


#AdvocacyMatters.  You can find more information about the new EEOC and RSA appointees and the Center for American Progress report on our website.  Disability Rights Pennsylvania’s also has self-advocacy guides on  employment discrimination on our website.