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EARN Newsletter: August 2022

Supporting Workers with Long COVID and More!

EARN in Action

Long COVID Guide for Employers

According to reports, millions of working-age adults are experiencing prolonged, lingering symptoms of COVID-19, a condition known as Long COVID. Employers and workers alike have many questions about Long COVID’s impact on employment. In collaboration with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), EARN developed “Supporting Employees with Long COVID: A Guide for Employers.” The guide includes information and resources to assist organizations in retaining employees experiencing symptoms of Long COVID. It also covers the legal obligations employers may have to provide workplace accommodations  for employees with Long COVID, such as allowing them to work remotely or take extended leave.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released two new reports on services and supports for people experiencing Long COVID and current and future research on the condition. These tools can help all impacted by Long COVID, including employers supporting workers affected by the condition.

New Talent Case Studies Highlight Women in Tech

Two new EARN talent case studies explore the employment journeys of women who are excelling in the cybersecurity field:

Rachel Velasco

Rachel Velasco is a 2019 graduate of Western Governors’ University who has a non-apparent disability that causes chronic pain and limits her mobility. Her participation in Disability:IN’s NextGen Leader Initiatives and an accelerated cybersecurity training program helped her land a job as a Threat Emulation and Offensive Security Analyst at Ally Financial.

Zarin Hamid

After graduating from Saint Leo University with a degree in International Studies, Zarin Hamid, who has a congenital heart defect, experienced employment discrimination due to her voice being impacted by damage to her vocal cords that occurred during a heart transplant operation. Undeterred, Zarin also participated in Disability:IN’s NextGen Leader Initiatives and decided to go back to school to earn a certificate in cybersecurity while working full time. She is now a Cybersecurity Analyst for a bank in Pennsylvania.

EARN Conference Participation

Summer means it is conference season! The EARN team had the opportunity to interact with employers committed to recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing employees with disabilities at several recent events. In July, EARN team members attended the Disability:IN annual conference in Dallas, where they met with employers to learn about workplace challenges and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. EARN also hosted a booth at the National Industry Liaison Group (NILG) conference in Boston and networked with federal contractors interested in disability inclusion. At the NILG conference, members of EARN’s research team co-presented with the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and EY’s Abilities Strategy Leader Lori Golden about EARN's research on employee mental health and wellbeing.

In addition, earlier this month EARN team members joined ODEP staff for an employer roundtable on Long COVID at the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) conference in Denver. Disability:IN is an EARN collaborative partner and both NILG and DMEC are members of EARN’s Inclusion@Work Network Leadership Council.

Updated Federal Framework

Recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing people with disabilities ensures that our country’s federal workforce is diverse and inclusive, while helping agencies meet affirmative action hiring goals. EARN’s guide “Federal Agency Employment Strategies: A Framework for Disability Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility” shares proven strategies and best practices that support inclusion of people with disabilities in the Federal Government. The guide was recently updated to reflect guidance and information from Executive Order 14035: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce. The Framework includes legal and regulatory requirements as well as strategies and practices used by public and private sector employers, including those identified in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) directives and guidance and federal affirmative action plans.

Disability Employment in the News

Department of Labor Celebrates ADA Anniversary & Disability Pride Month

In celebration of Disability Pride Month and the anniversary of signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the U.S. Department of Labor held a virtual event on July 28th called “Disability Pride: Celebrating 32 Years of the ADA.” Speakers included Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams and other agency leaders who discussed the department’s policies and programs for workers and job seekers with disabilities. Assistant Secretary Williams also wrote a blog post to commemorate the ADA anniversary and highlighted the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP) efforts to advance competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities.

New Resources on Inclusive Apprenticeship

The Department of Labor-funded Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship (PIA) has two new resources to help employers and others learn about disability-inclusive apprenticeship programs. The infographic “Inclusive Clean Energy Apprenticeships: Meeting the Demand for Skilled Workers” explores how inclusive apprenticeship programs can help employers in the clean energy field meet talent needs and diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility goals. Employers interested in making their on-the-job training programs more inclusive of people with disabilities can read “Best Practices for Accessible On-the-Job Training: An Employer’s Guide.” The Department of Labor is also currently running a 120-Day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint to promote cybersecurity-related Registered Apprenticeship programs, partnerships and initiatives.

2022 Disability Equality Index® Report

Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) released the results of the 2022 Disability Equality Index® (DEI). The DEI is a comprehensive benchmarking tool that assesses companies’ disability inclusion and equality efforts in areas such as technology accessibility, employment practices and culture. 415 companies, including 69 Fortune 100s, participated in the 2022 DEI. This year’s report revealed several new trends in disability employment, including that more companies are employing people with disabilities in leadership roles.

Mental Health in the Workplace Survey

A survey conducted by The Hartford and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is shedding light on how American workers feel about discussing mental health in the workplace. The “Hartford-NAMI 2022 Health in the Workplace Survey” found that only about half of workers feel comfortable engaging in conversations about mental health with their employer. For workers from historically underrepresented communities, the number was even lower–the survey found that workers who are Black, Latinx and Asian American-Pacific Islander feel less comfortable engaging in these types of conversations than their white colleagues. One-third of respondents also said they would not turn to a workplace resource if they needed mental health help. More than 2,000 workers participated in the survey, which was conducted between May and June of 2022.


Q: What is the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and how can I get involved with efforts to find solutions to workforce challenges?

A: Great question! WIOA was enacted in 2014 to address challenges facing the U.S. workforce, including disparities in workforce participation by people with disabilities. EARN recently updated our WIOA webpage, which offers information and resources for employers interested in participating in state and local efforts to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities and find innovative solutions to other workforce issues.

Visit the WIOA Webpage

Employer Spotlight

Disability Inclusion at Citrix

Software company Citrix Systems is prioritizing employee mental health and disability inclusion through a variety of programs and policies, including a Mental Health First Aiders program, inclusive hiring practices and anti-ableism trainings. Employees learn about self-care, warning signs of mental health conditions and best practices for supporting coworkers. These efforts and others have earned the company a spot on the 2022 Disability Equality Index® Best Places to Work list.

Mark Your Calendar

August 23, 2022, 2:00 p.m. ET
Webinar: Disabled, Trans and Queer: Intersectional Conversations in the Workplace

The webinar hosted by the Southeast Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Center will discuss workplace issues related to intersectionality and share the experiences of people with disabilities who are transgender and queer. Presenters from Edge Employment of Louisville, KY will offer ideas on how employers and service providers can support workplace inclusion of people with disabilities who are LGBTQIA+.

Register for the Southeast ADA Center webinar.

September 2, 2022, 12:00 p.m. ET
Webinar: nTIDE Lunch and Learn

This webinar will provide an overview of the National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) Jobs Report, as well as updates from the field of disability employment. Presenters include Andrew Houtenville from the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability, John O’Neill from the Kessler Foundation and Denise Rozell from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.

Register for the nTIDE webinar.

September 22, 2022, 2:00 p.m. ET
Webcast: Accommodation Solutions for Sleep Disorders

This interactive online training hosted by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) will discuss common workplace accommodations for workers with sleep disorders. JAN’s Cognitive/Neurological Team experts Melanie Whetzel and Alexis Popa will use real life scenarios to help employers find easy-to-implement solutions for supporting employees with sleep disorders.

Register for the JAN webcast.

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