Jobs and Education for People with Disabilities

Learn about employment resources on how to find a government job and prepare for a job interview. You can also find information on employment laws and how to file a workplace harassment or discrimination complaint. Also, search educational programs for students with disabilities.

Job Help for People with Disabilities

If you have a disability and you’re looking for work, these resources can help.

Find a Job

Develop Your Work and Job-Seeking Skills

Help for Young Workers

Help for Veterans

Learn Your Rights

Federal Jobs for People with Disabilities

If you’re looking for a job and you have a disability, you might consider working for the federal government because it:

People with disabilities can also apply for federal jobs through the standard competitive hiring process. This is important because many jobs open to people with disabilities use only the competitive hiring process, not Schedule A.

Finding and Applying for Federal Jobs

You can search for most federal jobs on the U.S. government’s official employment site,

To apply for jobs under Schedule A, you can apply online at USAJOBS, or you can apply directly to the agency offering the job. Either way, you will need to:

  • Prepare your resume and any other documents listed in the job announcement.

  • Provide proof you have an intellectual disability, severe physical disability, or psychiatric disability.

To apply for a job online:

To apply for a job directly through an agency:

For more details on applying for jobs through Schedule A, read The ABCs of Schedule A.

For an overview of how to use USAJOBS, see Federal Government Employment.

Veterans with Disabilities

If you’re a veteran with a service-connected disability, you have even more routes to a job with the federal government. These special hiring authorities allow agencies to appoint veterans noncompetitively to jobs. You may also be eligible for a 10-point veterans’ preference that gives you an advantage when applying for competitive positions.

College Students and Recent Graduates with Disabilities

If you’re a full-time college student or a recent graduate with a disability, you can connect to a summer or permanent federal job through the Workforce Recruitment Program. You can also apply for internships and permanent positions through the Pathways Program open to all current students or recent graduates.

Discrimination and Harassment at Your Job

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. These laws protect employees and job applicants against:

  • Discrimination, harassment, and unfair treatment by managers, co-workers, or others in the workplace because of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, transgender status, and sexual orientation), pregnancy, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information

  • Denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation for disability or religious beliefs

  • Retaliation because they complained about job discrimination, or helped with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit

Not All Employers Are Subject to EEOC Laws

An employer must have a certain number of employees to be covered by EEOC-enforced laws. This number varies depending on the type of employer (such as business or government agency) and the kind of discrimination alleged (such as race or age).

  • Businesses and state and local governments must have at least 15 employees for EEOC involvement in most types of discrimination complaints.

  • For age discrimination complaints:

    • Businesses must have at least 20 employees.

    • State and local governments have no minimum number of employees.

  • Federal agencies are covered by EEOC laws for all types of discrimination no matter how many employees they have.

Filing a Charge with the EEOC

If you are being harassed or discriminated against, you can file a charge with the EEOC. You have 180 days from the date of the event to file a complaint. In some situations, this deadline may be extended.

Federal employees and job applicants have a different complaint process.

Filing a Complaint with State or Local Government or with a Tribal Employment Rights Office

Most states and many local governments have their own anti-discrimination laws and their own agencies that enforce them. These laws may offer protections beyond EEOC-enforced laws.

Some state laws:

  • Apply to businesses with only five or six employees

  • Protect people from discrimination because they’re married or unmarried or have children

  • Have different deadlines for filing a charge or different standards for deciding whether you’re covered by them

To find state and local agencies and tribal employment rights offices:

  1. Find the EEOC field office that has jurisdiction over your area.

  2. Select “State and Local Agencies” from the office information list in the box on the left.

Many states have more protections for nursing mothers than what federal law requires. When they do, these laws are enforced by state labor offices.

Filing a Lawsuit

Victims of discrimination or harassment can file a lawsuit. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against under federal law, you must first file a charge with the EEOC, except for cases involving unequal pay between men and women.

You may decide to sue if the EEOC can’t help you with your complaint. In either case, look for an attorney who specializes in employment law. You can check with:

Laws that the EEOC Enforces

Federal employment discrimination laws include:


Harassment is unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, pregnancy, disability, or genetic information.

It can include:

  • Offensive jokes

  • Physical assaults or threats

  • Ridicule or insults

  • Display of offensive objects or pictures

Sexual harassment may include:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature

  • Offensive remarks about a person's sex—for example, offensive remarks about women in general

Harassment becomes illegal when:

  • It creates a hostile or abusive work environment

  • Refusing to put up with it results in the victim being fired or demoted

Protection from Retaliation

Equal Employment Opportunity laws prohibit retaliation against employees and job applicants who take action against discrimination or harassment at the workplace. For example, it’s unlawful to punish people for:

  • Filing or being a witness in an EEO charge or investigation

  • Communicating with a supervisor or manager about job discrimination or harassment

  • Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination

  • Resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others

Education Programs for People with Disabilities

Learn how to find local, state, and federal education programs and financial aid opportunities for people with disabilities.

  • Your state department of education or your local school board are your best resources for telling you about nearby programs and answering questions about state educational rights laws for people with disabilities.

  • An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a plan developed by a child’s educators and parents to meet that child’s specific educational needs. It’s a foundational part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which guarantees a free, appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities.

  • College-bound students with intellectual disabilities may be eligible for financial aid programs including Pell Grants and Federal Work-Study programs. The Office for Federal Student Aid has specific information on loans, grants, and scholarships, and how to apply.

  • Contact the school you want to attend for additional information on special programs for people with disabilities.

Education Rights of People with Disabilities

Educational Rights Laws

Several federal laws establish and protect the education rights of people with disabilities.

Disability Discrimination in Education

  • If you feel you or your child have been discriminated against at school, file a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

  • You can also complain closer to home. Most education policy is made at the state or local level. Your school district or state is often the best place to start if you have questions or concerns about a policy or issue or feel your child’s educational rights have been violated.

    • Select your state to find contact information for its department of education, higher education agency, special education agency, and adult education agency.

  • The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights offers an online pamphlet on the rights and responsibilities of students with a disability who are preparing for postsecondary education. It explains how schools must provide certain tools to students to avoid discrimination based on disability. Students must notify schools and document their needs. Schools must offer academic adjustments or modifications to help students participate in the classroom. For example, a school may offer course reading material in alternative text such as Braille.

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Last Updated: February 1, 2019