July 27, 2020

Castro, Titus Introduce Promotion Accessibility Act

WASHINGTONCongressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20),Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1), today introduced The Promotion Accessibility Act. This legislation would ensure that any foreign service officer who is up for promotion at the State Department can submit a memo explaining any “gaps” in their service to the boards that decide on promotions. The bill is part of an ongoing effort to improve diversity at all levels of the State Department and in our nation’s diplomatic efforts.

“The State Department has long struggled to adequately promote minority employees, including those with disabilities,” said Castro.“I am committed to ensuring the State Department becomes a more inclusive institution, especially at the management and leadership levels. The Promotion Accessibility Actis part of that ongoing effort to support diplomats with disabilities. Make no mistake: a more diverse State Department that represents all of the American people makes for a better America.” 

“The State Department cannot effectively advocate for individuals with disabilities on the international stage if it does not empower those individuals within its own offices and embassies,” said Titus.“This legislation will help ensure that diplomats with disabilities at the State Department ?have the opportunity to advance their careers. It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s also crucial to U.S. foreign policy interests.”

Background: Gap memos are written records that explain any interruption in service that is due to health, family, and other emergencies. Diplomats with disabilities, who are an integral part of the U.S. State Department, are often unfairly penalized for having “gaps” in their overseas assignments if they need to return to the United States to receive specialized, necessary medical care. Ensuring that diplomats with disabilities and other foreign service officers with gaps in their service are allowed to submit gap memos will help improve the fairness of the promotion process at the State Department and promote a more diverse diplomatic corp. 

The introduction of the Promotion Accessibility Actcoincides with the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA). The ADA prohibits discrimination against Americans with disabilities, providing similar protections as those afforded to protected classes like race, religion, sex, and national origin under the Civil Rights Actof 1964.The ADA also requires employers to offer "reasonable accommodations" to employees with disabilities. The Promotion Accessibility Actbuilds on the ADA by helping to ensure that diplomats with disabilities are not passed over for promotion because of any disability.

Click hereto view the full legislation text. 

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