User-Friendly Documents Clarify Impact of ADAAA; Commission Will Participate in Employment Conference Sponsored by U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued two revised publications addressing veterans with disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both documents are available on the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov.
The revised guides reflect changes to the law stemming from the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, which make it easier for veterans with a wide range of impairments – including those that are often not well understood -- such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to get needed reasonable accommodations that will enable them to work successfully. [Prior to the ADA Amendments Act, the ADA’s definition of the term “disability” had been construed narrowly, significantly limiting the law’s protections.]
The revised documents are also an outgrowth of a public meeting the EEOC held on Nov. 16, 2011 entitled “Overcoming Barriers to the Employment of Veterans with Disabilities.” In that meeting, the Commission heard testimony from a panel of experts on the unique needs of veterans with disabilities transitioning to civilian employment. The particular challenges faced by veterans with disabilities in obtaining employment has been the subject of increased attention in recent months, as large numbers of veterans return from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Guide for Employers explains how protections for veterans with service-connected disabilities differ under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), and how employers can prevent disability-based discrimination and provide reasonable accommodations.
The Guide for Wounded Veterans answers questions that veterans with service-related disabilities may have about the protections they are entitled to when they seek to return to their former jobs or look for civilian jobs. The publication also explains the kinds of accommodations that may be necessary to help veterans with disabilities obtain and successfully maintain employment.
“We want veterans with disabilities to know that the EEOC has resources to assist them as they transition to, or move within the civilian workforce,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “The release of these publications demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that veterans with disabilities receive the full protection of the laws we enforce, and that employers understand how to comply with those laws.”
On February 27-28 the EEOC will give presentations at an employment conference for severely injured U.S. Army personnel at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, sponsored by the Department of the Army’s Army Wounded Warrior (AW2) Program. The presentations will provide information to employers about the employment of veterans with disabilities and the ADA, and training for severely injured soldiers to help them learn their rights under the ADA as they seek civilian employment.
Over the past decade three million veterans have returned from military service and another one million are expected to return to civilian life over the course of the next five years with the anticipated drawdown of operations in the Middle East. According to an October report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for post-9/11 era veterans hovers around 12 percent, which is more than three percentage points higher than the overall unemployment rate.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.