New Labor Department law implements detailed job application forms

(WJLA) - In a town where the main industry is government contracts, a new law could affect thousands. It was a young viewer who first brought it to ABC7’s attention.

We are protecting his identity, and as a college student, he wanted to get a job at office supply store Staples. He went online to apply, but was stunned by what he found: a detailed form that asked him to disclose whether he had a disability such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, major depression, or PTSD.

"For anybody to ask that of anybody in public, let alone an employer, that's none of their business, frankly," he says.

A Staples spokesperson told us that as a “federal contractor, the company follows all federal laws in its application process.”

As it turns out, it's a new regulatory law from the Labor Department as of March of this year, and requires all federal contractors to ask potential employees to voluntarily fill out the form.

It was reportedly designed to track how well contractors are doing with hiring veterans and the disabled, but attorney Tom Spiggle, who specializes in employment law, says it seems to conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act:

"The compliance guidelines issued by the EEOC say applicants are not supposed to have to share this information in any form..."

It is ultimately information, our viewer’s mother points out, that could have a chilling effect on job seekers:

"That kind of makes me angry a little bit, because stuff like this can intimidate people -- especially in this day and age, when people are looking for jobs."