In this section of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network monthly newsletter, EARN 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 spotlights the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for working with the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) to recruit and hire qualified people with disabilities.
EPA HIRES A VETERAN AND WRP GRADUATE
Steven Braunstein believes that his greatest accomplishment was “being a great soldier.”
A dedicated member of the Army, Steven advanced to Staff Sergeant in four years and took on the ultimate challenge of leading a team of soldiers in Iraq during Operation Freedom I and III. He received numerous awards including the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Following a ten year military career, Steven enrolled at Baruch College to finish a degree in Accounting on the GI Bill.
Finding a new career after the Army was challenging, but Steven had educational and military experiences that he knew would be a benefit to anyone who hired him. A veterans’ counselor at Baruch College encouraged Steven to participate in the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). In the interview, Steven conveyed his interest in an accounting position where he could utilize the excellent analytical and technical skills he acquired while attending college and serving in the Army.
Steven’s participation in the Workforce Recruitment Program connected him with businesses looking for qualified personnel. The opportunity to be considered for his skills and talents ultimately brought him to his current position as an accountant at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in New York City. Steven is now a new father, and deeply enjoys his work at the EPA. Steven states that it is a pleasure to come into the office every day, and he looks forward to new challenges and a variety of tasks.
By working with the WRP, the EPA found an employee who is positive and credits maturity and perspective as essential factors in his success, and Steven found a position where he is once again serving his country as part of a team.
A tireless advocate for people with disabilities throughout her career, Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Office of Disability Employment Policy, was honored by the Viscardi Center with the Henry Viscardi Achievement Award on March 4. The award recognizes members of the global disability community who have impacted the quality of life of people with disabilities. “This award is an honor, and it is very much in keeping with principles the Department of Labor has espoused throughout its 100-year history: advancing opportunities for profitable employment, protecting work-related benefits and rights, and guaranteeing fair compensation for all members of the diverse American workforce,” said Martinez.
GOVERNORS PROMOTE EMPLOYMENT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The nation’s governors have turned their attention to helping more people with disabilities find jobs and are building partnerships with companies that are willing to help accommodate people once considered unemployable. The National Governors Association (NGA) is targeting the issue this year and will make recommendations in an August report. The aim is to come up with plans that provide workers with disabilities not only a paycheck, but also a deeper sense of purpose and belonging. Click here to read more.
COMMITTEE SETS GOAL OF BOOSTING NUMBER OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN WORKFORCE
Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee said at a Feb. 26 hearing that state and federal efforts are necessary to connect businesses with workers with disabilities and increase employment of such workers by more than 1 million. According to a July HELP committee report, the labor market participation rate for Americans with disabilities has not improved significantly since the late 1980s. The disabled workforce has shrunk by about 1 million workers—to 4.8 million from 5.8 million—during the recession, said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the HELP Committee. The committee hearing on state leadership and innovation in disability employment was inspired by a National Governors Association initiative to increase employment of people with disabilities (39 EDR 139, 8/1/12). Click here to read more.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS WEEK HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPORTANCE OF DISCLOSURE
In recognition of Multiple Sclerosis Week from March 11-15, EARN offers several resources for employers on the benefits of disclosure and effective communications. A recent success story from KPMG, LLP illustrates how fostering an inclusive work environment can encourage disclosure and empower employees with disabilities. Click here to watch the video.
PRESIDENT OBAMA APPOINTS NEW CHAIRPERSON ON NATIONAL COUNCIL ON DISABILITY
The National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency that advises the President, Congress and other federal agencies regarding disability policy, has welcomed Jeff Rosen as its new Chairperson. Rosen previously served as the General Counsel and Director of Policy of the agency. During his previous seven-year tenure at NCD, Rosen helped the Council carry out its policy and research work through three principal conceptual frameworks: The Civil Rights Monitoring Project; Investing in Independence; and Livable Communities. He also led the agency’s Righting the ADA project, which served as the foundation for the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Click here to read more.
*In February 2013, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 27.6% for persons with disabilities compared with 69.9% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 42.4%, not seasonally adjusted.
EARN CELEBRATES REMARKABLE WOMEN
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) is spotlighting outstanding women with disabilities in recognition of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. During March, EARN’s weekly e-blasts, social media postings, and newsletter highlight women with disabilities and their achievements. These distinguished women include, among others: Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Congresswoman; Jessica Cox, motivational speaker and airplane pilot; Deb Dagit, President of Deb Dagit, LLC and retired Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Merck, and Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy. EARN recently interviewed Deb Dagit and Assistant Secretary Martinez about their careers and as women with disabilities. Click here to read more.
OPM ISSUES RULE TO REMOVE BARRIERS TO HIRING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued a final rule that will simplify how the Federal Government hires people with disabilities by removing the requirement of certification of job readiness. Currently, people with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities and psychiatric disabilities are required to submit written proof from a doctor, vocational rehabilitation specialist or disability benefits agency stating that the individual can perform the work. This regulation supports Executive Order 13548, Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities. Click here to read more.
TRENDS IN DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT: PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES MORE ENGAGED IN THE WORKFORCE
New data indicate that people with disabilities are more engaged in the labor force, according to today’s Trends in Disability Employment – National Update, a new monthly analysis issued by the Kessler Foundation and the Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire. In Bureau of Labor Statistics data released this month, the employment-to-population ratio increased from 25.2 percent in February 2012 to 27.6 percent (up 9.5%) in February 2013 for working-age people with disabilities. This change indicates an increase in the engagement of people with disabilities in the workplace, according to John O’Neill, PhD, Kessler Foundation’s Director of Employment and Disability Research. Click here to read more.
EARN WEBINAR ON APRIL 25th TO FOCUS ON ACCESSIBLE TECHNOLOGY
The second webinar in EARN’s 2013 free series is scheduled for Thursday, April 25 at 2:00 PM EDT. “Be Tech Savvy: Accessible Information and Communication Technology” will take a closer look at these important issues. HRCI credits will be available to participants.
ACTING DOL HEAD DISCUSSES IMPROVING JOB OPPORTUNITIES, BARRIERS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Acting Secretary of Labor Seth Harris discussed labor market trends during a keynote address at a Feb. 27 luncheon hosted by the National Organization on Disability (NOD) in Washington, D.C. Harris spoke about the Department of Labor’s efforts to improve employment opportunities for workers with disabilities in the current economy. Click here to read more.
OFCCP RELEASES REGULATORY AGENDA FOR 2013
The Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently published its 2013 regulatory goals. The Unified Agenda signals that OFCCP intends to aggressively implement new rules and regulations affecting federal contractors and subcontractors in the upcoming year. OFCCP plans to finalize regulations concerning protected veterans and individuals with disabilities in April. Click here to read what regulatory action contractors and subcontractors should expect.
POSITIVE OUTLOOK FOR WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES
According to Megan Totka, editorial director at www.chamberofcommerce.com, the workplace struggles of employees and job-seekers with disabilities are reflective of larger cultural issues and as a result, greater attention is being paid to the issues. Some positive trends for workers with disabilities include disability-specific hiring, and government support of disability initiatives. Click here to read more.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy