EARN Newsletter: July 2021
ADA Month – Celebrating 31 Years
EARN in Action
Marking 31 Years of the ADA
This month marks the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law on July 26, 1990. This landmark civil rights legislation has opened doors of opportunity for people with disabilities across all sectors of American society, including in the workplace. EARN is pleased to assist in advancing the ADA by helping employers create and grow workplaces that are inclusive of the skills and talents of people with disabilities.
Supporting Disabled Veterans
Lou Orslene, Director of the Employer and Workplace Policy team at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, recently participated in a podcast produced by the Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services. During the podcast, part of the Center’s “Service Before Self” series, Orslene and Retired Army Colonel and Dixon Center Vice President of Programs and Services Sam Whitehurst discussed challenges faced by disabled veterans and resources—including EARN—that can help employers benefit from their skills and talents.
Digital Accessibility Webinar
On June 22, EARN hosted a webinar exploring lessons learned from the pandemic about the impact of technological inequities on diverse communities, including people with disabilities. Panelists included representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT). This webinar, one in a three-part series honoring the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 31st anniversary, is now archived, along with an accompanying handout, to view at any time.
Last month, Bobby Silverstein, Principal at Powers Pyles Sutter and Verville, PC, and Matthew Saleh, a Research Associate at Cornell University’s Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, represented EARN at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 24th annual EXCEL (Examining Conflict in Employment Law) conference. The presentation focused on findings from EARN’s literature review of best practices for recruiting, hiring and equitably retaining workers with disabilities during the pandemic.
Disability Employment in the News
Supporting Workers with Long COVID
Although most people who contract COVID-19 recover in four to six weeks, data indicate that between 10 and 30% experience lingering symptoms—a condition sometimes called “Long COVID” or “COVID-19 syndrome.” Like others with chronic health conditions, these individuals may be entitled to temporary or longer-term work accommodations to help them stay at or return to work once ready. To help workers and employers learn more, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy developed a webpage that centralizes related information and resources.
The Opportunity to Thrive—with Pride
Andy Arias, a Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, drafted a blog post in honor of Pride Month in June. In the blog post, Arias discussed how his early experiences led to his career helping people with disabilities, including LGBTQI+ individuals, pursue employment and economic independence. “I feel my life experiences bring a special sense of understanding to my work,” Arias said. “I take pride in helping others with disabilities, whatever their identities, avoid the systemic poverty and isolation I experienced.”
Invisible Disabilities Podcast
A recent podcast produced by the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship (PIA) in collaboration with Workology addressed the topic of invisible disabilities in the workplace. During the podcast, PIA Director of Communications Devin Boyle and Workology Founder Jessica Merrill-Miller discussed misconceptions around mental health conditions. They also discussed the benefits of hiring and supporting employees, including apprentices, with these and other non-evident disabilities. PIA is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Driving Change through Customized Employment
In a recent blog post, Rose Warner, a Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, explored how the strategy of customized employment helps advance her agency’s mission and the spirit of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Olmstead v. L.C. Decided in 1999, this landmark case affirmed the rights of people with disabilities to live and receive services in the most integrated settings possible. The blog post is part of a series sharing best practices in honor of ODEP’s 20th anniversary.
The Alchemist brewery is a small business in Stowe, Vermont. Earlier this year, it received the Vermont Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities’ “Spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act” award for its disability inclusion efforts, including outreach, training and accommodations. According to Jen Kimmich, one of the brewery’s owners, taking such steps “has been one of the best business decisions we have ever made. Our workplace morale is better, our productivity is up and it just gives us a reason to keep building an inclusive workplace every single day.”