Disability Rights Organizations Voice Support for Class Action on Behalf of Disabled Foreign Service Applicants

April 27, 2011, Washington, DC – A consortium of more than 100 national, disability-related organizations joined in support of the class action which was certified in September 2010, seeking to end the United States Department of State's practice of discrimination against people with disabilities, records of disabilities, and perceived disabilities in the hiring process for Foreign Service Officers. At the request of the State Department, the class certification decision in Meyer v. Clinton (Department of State), a case brought by Bryan Schwartz Law, is currently under review by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities wrote to the EEOC, addressing the State Department's so-called "worldwide availability" policy, which required that applicants prove they are able to work at more than 250 diplomatic posts worldwide, without reasonable accommodations of any kind or need for ongoing medical treatment, before being hired into the Foreign Service. Thus, for example, an applicant (like the Class Agent, Ms. Meyer) who the State Department admitted was able to work at more than 85% of posts without any accommodations, could not be hired, at all, into the Foreign Service, without undergoing a special "waiver" process to prove he or she had "extraordinary qualifications" not required of other, non-disabled applicants. Only a tiny fraction of disabled applicants receive Foreign Service jobs after this discriminatory "waiver" process.

Though numerous court and EEOC decisions have found the application of the "worldwide availability" requirement unlawful, it has never been addressed on a class-wide basis. The Consortium's letter stated, "The time has come to stop handling these challenges to a discriminatory policy piecemeal – and to address head-on the whole 'worldwide availability requirement' as implemented."

Bryan Schwartz, attorney for the Class Agent, stated, "This support of the organized, disability rights community is critical. This Consortium is a major stakeholder in the EEOC's performance of its mission to eliminate workplace discrimination, and I hope the EEOC will take the Consortium's well-reasoned amicus letter very seriously – as it should."

The complete letter can be found by clicking here.

For more information about Meyer, et al. v. Clinton contact Bryan Schwartz: