The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of the several disabilities related laws that is in place to protect Americans with disabilities. The purpose of the law is to ensure that people with disabilities have equal rights and opportunities. One of the primary laws that is in place is the Title I law which falls under the regulation laws and it protects the rights of both employees and job seekers. Any employer who hire 15 or more employees are required to follow this law which applies to private sectors employers as well as state, local governments, employment agencies and labor organizations. Title I seek to provide non-discrimination reasonable accommodations for employees and job seekers with disabilities. There are many programs that fall under the U.S. Department of Labor that have several programs aid at helping to close the hiring gap of individuals with disabilities. One of those programs is the Employer Assistant (EARN), which is a free, nationwide service that educates employers on effective ways to recruit, hire, train, and advance people with disabilities. Another program is the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) that find ways to bring together private businesses and federal agencies nationwide and assist with them with qualified candidates. It is a free resource that mostly target college students with disabilities. The Job Accommodations Network (JAN) grant free, expert advice to individual with disabilities and help companies with accommodations needed to assist qualified individuals with disabilities.
Surprisingly enough HR play a big role when it comes to employee disability awareness in the workplace. HR is responsible for trying to maximize the productivity of an organization by optimizing the effectiveness of its employees by ensuring that all employees in an organization are all being treated fairly and that all ethical employment guidelines are being followed. Finding ways to better accommodate employees with disability is high priority that HR professionals deal with on a regular basis. Whether it is an employee needing special accommodation due to a short-term disability or a long-term disability it is the responsible of HR to help the employee figure out the steps they need to address their concern. The disability could be for a variety of reasons, such as mental illness or sudden sickness that occur. HR Job is to accommodate employees ethically and fairly with resources that promotes healthy and fair in the workplace.
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) guarantees equal opportunities for people with disabilities. A company can be fined or penalize for not following the guidelines and unfair treatment. The act prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals. It is also backed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). EEOC is the enforcement agency that drives to keep employers in compliance. Title II play an important role in helping to mitigate discrimination by barring disability-based discrimination description on public entities to include state and local government. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM) enforce Title II ensures guidelines are being followed by employers.
If an individual has a disability, federal employment opportunities should be considered as often time the individual with the disability will be give preferential treatment. Although the process to get hired into a federal job seems to be a lot harder due to the shear about of paperwork required. When searching for a federal job, whether you have a disability or not, create a profile on www.usajobs.gov and apply. The federal employment system is very detailed, so it is not your typical one-page resume that is more common in the civilian sector. When it comes to disability in the federal employment system, there are two types. There is a VA disability rating and schedule A. Veterans that have a 30% or more service-connected disability can be non-competitively appointed into a position. There is temporary hiring position that last at least 60 days and there are term positions that last more than 1 year and not more than 4 years. Most of the time employees that are given temporary appointments of 60 days and they do a good job, their position, can be converted to permanent appointment at the agency discretion. When you are hired under this authority there is not grade level restrictions.
Schedule A is another type of hiring disability. Schedule A is a person with an intellectual disability, a severe physical disability, or a psychiatric disability. A veteran can be both 30% VA and schedule A, but they fall under different hiring authorities. When seeking federal employment, it is important to apply under as many authorities as possible. The agencies cannot guarantee a job but it very helpful in the noncompetitive process. Federal employees, like most new hires, are subject to a probationary period. Although the candidate is hired with disability, they will be held to the same performance standard as other employees. To qualify for Schedule A, candidate will need a letter from their medical provider stating they have an intellectual disability, severe physical disability or psychiatric disability. Due to HIPAA laws candidate do NOT have to disclosure specific disability. A federal agency must willingly to provide reasonable accommodations to assist employees with a disability. What is a reasonable accommodation? This is a change or modification in the work environment or the way things are usually done that enables someone with the disability to enjoy equal employment opportunity. Some examples are sign language interpreters, screen readers, accessible work stations and many more. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and does not necessarily have to be honored. If the accommodation provides an undue hardship or is significantly difficult to accommodate, it may not be honored. All federal agencies must abide by the law issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
President Obama issued executive order 13548, on July 26, 2010, was established to increase Federal employment of individual with disability and as a way for federal government to be seen as a model employer of individuals with disabilities to help erase the stigma associated with disability. Research as shown that individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in the Federal workforce, at the time the order was written, individual with disabilities represented on 5 percent of 2.5 million federal employees. As the nation’s biggest employer, federal government must do better at hiring disability workers. The order directs agencies to improve efforts by targeting disabled individuals through recruitment, hiring and retention. After the executive order was signed, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) had 2 months to design a new recruitment and hiring strategies targeted at being more inclusive of individuals with disabilities. The President Obama administration was committed to closing this gap.
In closing, while there seems to be great strides being made to move in a positive direction with disability accommodation, there is still more work to do to bridge the gaps in laws, regulations and hiring practices for individuals with disabilities (Obama, 2010).
In conclusion, while there seems to be great strides being made to move in a positive direction with disability accommodation, Law & Regulations that outline hiring people with disabilities, the ADA website compliance and Federal employment disability hiring and accommodations. There is still more work to do to bridge the gaps in laws, regulations and hiring practices for individuals with disabilities. The importance of ADA is often overlooked, until there is a personal experience or family member affected. I encourage each individual to look for opportunities to address concern and shortfalls. Keep in mind that disabilities are not always visible to the eye and one should be careful not to judge individual that’s state they have a disability.
- Obama, B. (2010). Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, The Office of Press Secretary -Executive Order 13548 https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/executive-order-increasing-federal-employment-individuals-with-disabilities.
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