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Disability rights advocate defends new Labor Dept. law about job applications

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(WJLA) - ABC7 News has more information about the controversial job application form that shocked one of our viewers when he went to apply for a job at Staples.

The unexpected form asked him if he had any disabilities – including medical conditions you may not typically consider disabilities, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, depression, and even PTSD.

So ABC7 did some digging and found out that Staples is a federal contractor, and that a new law from the Labor Department actually requires all federal contractors to include the form as part of its application process - though they call it "voluntary."

What’s interesting, however, is that supporters of the law include Curt Decker, who heads up the National Disability Rights Network – a group that has fought to uphold the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act for 25 years.

"We are supportive of this kind of affirmative action," says Decker, explaining that the goal is to track whether or not federal contractors are hiring more of disabled persons and veterans, and that the government has set up hiring targets.

"It is voluntary, and so they have to make a personal decision whether they want to disclose their disability -- but that may actually be the way they get hired," Decker explains. "At the same time, we are watching very carefully to be sure the generic employer is not in any way discriminating against people with disabilities."

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