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U.S. Department of Labor-Funded Online Toolkit Helps Employers Ensure Disability-Inclusive Workplaces

July 30, 2019
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

To help employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other disability nondiscrimination laws and regulations, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy-sponsored Job Accommodation Network (JAN) developed the Workplace Accommodation Toolkit.

Reasonable accommodations are key to the ADA’s employment provisions, which protect qualified individuals from discrimination based on disability. A reasonable accommodation is considered any modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that enables a qualified person with a disability to apply for or perform a job.

The Workplace Accommodation Toolkit centralizes resources and guidance related to reasonable accommodations, including sample policies, templates and checklists, as well as training videos and access to thousands of specific accommodation ideas. It can benefit any company seeking to establish or update its accommodation policies and procedures. It can also help companies retain valued talent, given that current employees may develop a need for an accommodation in order to stay at work or return to work following illness or injury.

Furthermore, providing reasonable accommodations can help covered employers meet their goals under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires federal contractors with contracts greater than a certain amount to take proactive steps to recruit and retain qualified people with disabilities. However, none of the strategies in the Workplace Accommodation Toolkit create any new legal requirements or change current ones.

"Accommodations help create more inclusive and welcoming workplaces for America’s more than 30 million working-age people with disabilities," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Jennifer Sheehy. "This toolkit helps break down the process and offers concrete examples to ensure accommodations are effective and benefit all parties involved, including employers, employees, or job applicants."

Under the ADA, an "individual with a disability" is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment. "Qualified" means the person satisfies the job-related requirements of the position he or she holds or is applying for and can perform its essential functions, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

A free service of the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, JAN is the leading source of free, expert and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and the employment provisions of the ADA. In addition to the Workplace Accommodation Toolkit and other online resources, JAN provides one-on-one consultation about individual situations over the phone at 800-526-7234 (Voice) or 877-781-9403 (TTY).

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is the only non-regulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities. ODEP was authorized by Congress in the Department of Labor’s FY 2001 appropriation. Recognizing the need for a national policy to ensure that people with disabilities are fully integrated into the 21st-century workforce, the Secretary of Labor delegated authority and assigned responsibility to the Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy.

The Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI) is a cross-agency effort that complements the Department’s enforcement activities by strengthening and innovating compliance assistance outreach to provide employers and workers with access to information about their rights and responsibilities. As part of this, OCI launched Worker.gov and Employer.gov, both of which address a range of employment issues, including disability nondiscrimination.

Link: Go to website for News Source
https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/odep/odep20190726


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