Please note: The Employer Assistance and Resource Center will be closed on Thursday, July 4th and Friday, July 5th in observance of the Fourth of July holiday. Technical assistance requests received during this time will be addressed on Monday, July 8th. Please visit www.AskEARN.org for resources and information available anytime.
In this section of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) monthly newsletter, EARN features and recognizes employers’ successful practices for outreach, recruitment, hiring, and accommodating workers with disabilities. EARN invites employers who would like to highlight their effective practices in employing people with disabilities to submit articles for future issues of the EARN newsletter.
This month, EARN recognizes June as National Employee Wellness Month with a blog post addressing workplace wellness and disability, and offers resources on Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to help employers optimize employee engagement and increase productivity. Additionally, we spotlight NASA for working with the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) to recruit and hire talented candidates with disabilities.
NO LIMITS FOR GRADUATE WITH DISABILITIES AT NASA
Maricela is a highly skilled and trained Research Materials Engineer. Work habits had everything to do with attaining a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M and landing her dream job at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) was an important bridge for Maricela that opened a door for her when she wasn’t certain of available opportunities after completing her education.
NASA recognized Maricela as a graduate with great potential. Though the employment of such a stellar candidate is the norm for an agency such as NASA, Maricela’s path to NASA was far from conventional. During her WRP interview in October of 2010, the federal recruiter stated he was quite impressed with her resume and interview skills, writing in his notes “ready for hire” indicating she could bypass a training period as part of her hiring status.
Later, an HR specialist at NASA Glenn gave a presentation to upper management about WRP and the potential for finding talented candidates with disabilities. In his presentation, he utilized Maricela’s resume as an example. When attendees of the meeting saw her resume, they asked if it was a real resume and then stopped the presentation so they could review it. Consequently, they decided to bring Maricela to NASA for an interview and the rest is history.
“Working at NASA researching and developing the next generation of materials for aviation and space vehicles is, literally, the coolest job on the planet.” Maricela encourages more students to enter the STEM field to study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Acting as a mentor and providing students’ tours of her labs at NASA, Maricela gives back to the community and equips students with additional information and knowledge regarding Materials Science in aeronautics.
Currently, Maricela’s work supports the Fundamental Aeronautics Program under the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) to address the technical challenge of developing lightweight high temperature materials for turbine engines. This critical research contributes to NASA’s green aviation goal by reducing aircraft fuel consumption, emissions and noise.
As far as working at NASA and having low vision – Maricela remains confident, “my disability will never define me; it is an obstacle that is dealt with through careful planning, creativity, innovation, and adaptive technology. I live my life exploring my potential, not dwelling on my limitations.” The bottom line is you have to “do what you love and love what you do”.
For Maricela and her colleagues at NASA, the Sky is no longer the limit.
NEW ALLIANCE EXPANDS ACCESS TO EMPLOYMENT FOR CANDIDATES WITH DISABILITIES
Professional Diversity Network announced that as of June 1, it will be sharing thousands of job listings with members of www.disabledperson.com, a website that posts resume and job listings for candidates with disabilities. The website is owned by disABLEDperson, Inc., an alliance partner of EARN, whose primary focus is disability employment. Professional Diversity Network develops and operates online networks dedicated to serving diverse professionals and providing them with access to employment opportunities. Click here to read more.
PRESIDENT’S COMMITTEE FOR PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES RELEASES 2012 REPORT
The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID) released its 2012 Report to President Obama that addresses the provision of long-term services and supports through managed care arrangements. It includes background information about the evolution of managed care and offers 15 recommendations for the federal government to pursue. The recommendations fall into four categories: disability stakeholder engagement, choice and self-determination, consumer protections and rights, and quality measurement, data collection and research. Click here to view the report.
SUMMIT HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF INCLUSIVE WORKFORCES
Acting Secretary of labor Seth Harris delivered remarks at “Building a More Inclusive Workforce: A National Summit to Boost Education and Employment Outcomes for Americans with Disabilities,” joining Senator Tom Harkin and Delaware Governor Jack Markell on May 31. The event was co-sponsored by the National Governor’s Association, the Council on Foundations, and the U.S. Business Leadership Network. Harris spoke to the assembled group of employers, advocates and activists about the need to work together to achieve better outcomes for students, workers and job seekers with disabilities. Also in attendance were Kathleen Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, and Patricia Shiu, the assistant secretary of labor who heads the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Click here to read the blog post by acting Secretary Harris.
GOVERNOR INSLEE SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER PROMOTING HIRING OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Governor Jay Inslee (WA-D) signed an executive order on May 22 to help promote the hiring of people with disabilities in state government and the private sector. Executive Order 13-02 includes several directives including a Disability Employment Challenge that establishes a goal of five percent of Washington state government’s workforce to be comprised of persons living with a disability. Currently, only 36% of working-age people with disabilities in Washington State are employed. Click here to read more.
WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES VALUE TELECOMMUTING AS WORKPLACE BENEFIT
Employees with disabilities say telecommuting is a key workplace benefit. According to a national survey released by Think Beyond the Label, eight out of ten workers with disabilities say they would like the option to telecommute at least part time. Less than one-third of respondents say their employer currently offers telecommuting, and over 17% of survey respondents said they telecommute to accommodate a disability. Click here to read more.
*In May 2013, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 27.2% for persons with disabilities compared with 70.8% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 43.7%, not seasonally adjusted.
JUNE IS NATIONAL EMPLOYEE WELLNESS MONTH
EARN is pleased to announce the launch of its new business and disability blog, the EARN|Exchange. In recognition of National Employee Wellness Month, LaWanda Cook, Ph.D. at Cornell University’s Employment and Disability Institute blogs on “Workplace Wellness and Disability,” in which she addresses the value of investing in employee well-being and how both employers and employees can benefit from workplace wellness programs. Read this and other posts on the EARN|Exchange here!
FINAL RULES ON EMPLOYMENT-BASED WELLNESS PROGRAMS RELEASED
The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury jointly released final rules regarding nondiscriminatory employment-based wellness programs on June 7. The final rules continue to divide wellness programs into “participatory wellness programs” and “health-contingent wellness programs.” A key difference between the final and the proposed rules is the subdivision of health-contingent wellness programs into “activity-only” or “outcome-based” programs. The final rules also include sample language that group health plans may use. Click here to read more.
NOD AND SIROTA RELEASE FINDINGS FROM EMPLOYEE DISABILITY SURVEY
The results of a five-year survey of nearly 850,000 employees were released by the National Organization on Disability (NOD) and Sirota Consulting. The survey was developed to better understand the experiences of employees with disabilities by capturing, assessing, and understanding their workplace experiences compared to the experiences of their colleagues without disabilities. The largest differences were found in the strength of the relationship between the employee and the company, and in the amount of encouragement and opportunity employees received to achieve in their position.
FREE EARN WEBINAR ON JUNE 27: “BUILD AN INCLUSIVE CULTURE”
EARN is offering a free webinar on June 27 in partnership with the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN). “Lead the Way: Building an Inclusive Business Culture” at 2 p.m. EDT will feature Lori Golden, Ernst & Young’s Abilities Strategy Leader, who will share best practices related to building an enabling and inclusive work environment for people of all abilities. HRCI credits will be available.
LEADING TECH COMPANY TO RECRUIT WORKERS WITH AUTISM
The Germany-based software company SAP announced the launch of a strategic effort to hire people with autism in order to tap their unique talents. SAP will recruit individuals with autism for jobs as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists. SAP has conducted pilot programs in India and Ireland and plans to expand its employment efforts to the United States, Canada and Germany this year. Click here to read more.
UPCOMING ADA ANNIVERSARY A SIGNAL FOR EMPLOYERS TO REVIEW POLICY
The American Psychiatric Association has published the latest revision to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-5), which could expose employers to greater liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA The DSM-5 establishes new diagnoses that could constitute disabilities under the ADA if they substantially affect a life activity. Employers should be ready for recognizing these expanded definitions and be prepared for entering into an interactive process to determine whether appropriate accommodations can and should be made to facilitate employment and productivity. Click here to read more.
RULING STANDS REQUIRING EMPLOYERS TO REASSIGN EMPLOYEES WITH DISABILITIES
The U.S. Supreme Court on May 30 refused to reconsider a ruling that reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require employers to reassign employees to a vacant position when the employee cannot be accommodated in his or her current position. According to the ruling, “the ADA does indeed mandate than an employer appoint employees with disabilities to vacant positions for which they are qualified, provided that such accommodations would be ordinarily reasonable and would not present an undue hardship to the employer.” Click here to read more.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy