Department of State Reaches Settlement Resolving Longstanding Claims of Discrimination Based on Disability Regarding Its Global Availability Requirement for Career State Department Foreign Service Applicants

The Department of State is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement to settle Meyer, et al. vs. US State Department, a long-running class action lawsuit pending before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over successive administrations that challenges the Department’s global availability requirement for Foreign Service career candidates. This is an important step forward in the Department’s efforts to create a workforce that reflects the full diversity of the American people and to ensure that we have the best team representing the United States abroad. Our greatest achievements are achieved when diverse and dynamic perspectives fuel our diplomatic efforts.

The settlement resolves the claims of more than 230 individuals whose employment with the Department was delayed or denied due to their inability to obtain “Class 1” medical clearance, also referred to as “worldwide available” medical clearance . The terms of the settlement agreement have received preliminary approval from the EEOC and have been disclosed to the American Foreign Service Association. Group members will now have an opportunity to comment. A final hearing to approve the settlement agreement is scheduled for March 15, 2023. The terms of the settlement agreement will become effective shortly thereafter, subject to appeals of the final approval order being available and filed. . The complete Settlement Agreement is posted on the Department’s website.

If the settlement agreement receives final approval, the Department will make conditional job offers to many class members (excluding, for example, those who have already been hired or are no longer eligible to hiring by the Department for non-medical reasons). The Department has also agreed to adopt a revised minimum medical qualification standard for applicants to the Department’s Career Foreign Service which would replace our current requirement for a Class 1 medical clearance; this would be monitored by the EEOC for a period of five years. Finally, the Department will pay $37.5 million to settle the case.

For general practitioners and specialists, except medical specialists[1], candidates will need to be medically cleared to serve at all designated regional medical evacuation centers – currently Bangkok, London, Pretoria and Singapore. The revised minimum medical qualification agreed upon as part of the settlement will be used solely to determine whether a candidate is medically qualified for employment and will not be used to define or limit the universe of positions for which the candidate may serve. The settlement agreement makes no other changes to existing qualification standards for the department’s foreign service applicants. Further, the Settlement Agreement makes no change to the Department’s Directed Assignment Policy for entry-level employees.

The department intends to maintain the revised minimum medical qualification standard as long as it remains compliant with the law and allows the department to meet the needs of the foreign service. During the five-year monitoring period, the Department will periodically assess the impact of the revised policy on the Department’s ability to meet the needs of the Foreign Service. The Settlement Agreement includes a mechanism to allow for changes to the revised policy if the Department determines that the revised policy does not meet the needs of the Foreign Service.

The terms of the settlement announced today reflect the Department’s commitment to workforce inclusion policies. The Department continues to examine areas where policies can be designed or updated to reflect the Secretary’s modernization agenda, which includes attracting and retaining top talent who reflect the diversity of our country.

For more information, please contact Dana Murray at murraydc@state.gov.


[1] A separate revised minimum medical qualification standard has been agreed for medical specialists.

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