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March 1, 2022Advocacy Matters

Employment Policy Update

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

 

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Employment Policy Update

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Effective employment policies and accommodations are key to increasing the employment of people with disabilities. Today, we want to recap two recent events that will help advocates and employers navigate COVID-19 in the workplace.

In December, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 technical assistance and added a new section to their guidance to clarify the circumstances under which COVID-19 may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This was an effort to address the impact of COVID on the workplace, such as long-COVID as a disability.

The EEOC states that in some cases, an applicant’s or employee’s COVID-19 may cause impairments that are themselves disabilities under the ADA, regardless of whether the initial case of COVID-19 itself constitutes an actual disability. The EEOC reinforced that the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act continue to apply during the pandemic.

In February, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing focusing on innovations emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic that created inclusive practices and helped people with disabilities overcome barriers to employment. This was the first hearing on the employment of people with disabilities in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions since 2014.

The hearing provided the committee and witnesses with an opportunity to document innovations and success as well as the challenges that remain for workers with disabilities. Senator Murray observed that one in four Americans have a disability, and more workers are identifying as having a disability due to long-COVID.

Committee members and witnesses discussed some of the most requested accommodations during the pandemic. These accommodations included remote work and flexible scheduling. The hearing noted that these accommodations cost the employer nothing to provide.

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It is important to stay up to date on policy developments impacting people with disabilities.

Listeners can find a link to the EEOC material as well as the U.S. Senate HELP Committee hearing and witness testimony by visiting www.disabilityrightspa.org and click on today’s #AdvocacyMatters segment.

 

Links

EEOC Press Release on Updated COVID-19 Technical Assistance

EEOC Q&A on COVID-19, ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO Laws

U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee Hearing on Employment and COVID-19 for People with Disabilities

Press Release of U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

Statement of Ranking Member Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)