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Disabilities And Employment

Disabilities And Employment
By Doris Appelbaum, CEO, Appelbaum’s Resume Professionals, Inc.

To Discuss Your Disability--Or Not

According to the law, you do not have to reveal your disability to your potential employer unless your disability directly relates to how well you can perform a particular job's tasks. However, you may want to be open with the disclosure. Why? Being open shows your employer that you intend to be proactive and forthright not only in this instance but in other work situations as well.

There are various points throughout the job search process when you can tell a prospective employer about your disability. Some of these include after a referral to an employer, on your resume, in your cover letter, on a job's application form, during an interview, after you've been offered the job, after beginning the job -- or never. Carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing at each of these points in light of your particular situation and how much you know about the employer to arrive at a decision that you can live with. (Author's Note: I don't think it belongs on the resume.)

Misconceptions and Misunderstandings

Disabled job seekers continue to face barriers in the form of employer discomfort and misconceptions about the cost of disability accommodations. One-fourth of surveyed organizations said they employ at least one person with a physical disability or mental illness. A majority of those who have hired disabled workers said the average cost of adapting a workspace to meet the employee's needs was $500 or less. Many employers said they didn't need to make any new workplace accommodations for their disabled staffers. When employers were asked to give reasons for not hiring workers with disabilities, about one-third said these individuals couldn't do the work at their organizations. However, many employers reported that subjective judgments, not first-hand experience, determined their hiring policy toward disabled workers.

According to a recent report, few employers have developed recruiting methods that specifically target the disabled. Larger companies are more likely than smaller firms to have made changes to their business practices to accommodate and recruit workers with disabilities.

Despite their desire to work, individuals with disabilities remain underrepresented in the work force. This labor pool could help employers overcome staffing challenges. Policymakers and the private sector should work together to break down barriers to training and hiring the best employees, whether or not they are disabled.

Disabled Veterans as Job Candidates

Each year, in service to our nation, thousands of former military personnel join the ranks of disabled veterans. Overall, there are millions of disabled veterans. Disabled veterans represent a rich talent pool. They have proven their ability. They have been trained in military specialties that offer knowledge and experiences transferable to the civilian workforce. Disabled veterans have proven their loyalty. They volunteered to serve their nation and have proven they can commit to a job and an organization. Disabled veterans know the meaning of discipline and teamwork. From following orders to watching out for their buddies, they are serious workers. They come with support systems that enhance their employability. There are several programs offering disabled veterans special employment and training services.

Resources for Unemployed Disabled Veterans

¨ The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs supports a nationwide employment training program for service-connected disabled veterans who qualify for vocational rehabilitation. There are regional offices which administer this program. These offices are a place where employers recruit qualified disabled veterans. In addition to employment and educational training programs, the offices can provide eligible disabled veterans with job-specific and job-related training. Employers may work with these offices to develop training programs that suit their employment needs.

¨ The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), through its Veterans Employment Training Service (VETS), helps support a network of local employment service professionals who assist disabled veterans with locating and securing employment. A corps of local area Disabled Veteran Outreach Personnel (DVOPs) provides employers with qualified job candidates who are disabled veterans.

¨ Many of the National Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans Association, Blinded Veterans Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans of America and Non-Commissioned Officers Association, offer employment related services for disabled veterans (and in many cases all veterans) in various localities.

Federal Laws

Several federal laws support the employment of disabled veterans.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA establishes nondiscrimination practices for the employment of people with disabilities. Disabled veterans are covered by this Act.

Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA)

Under this law, employers with federal contracts or subcontracts of $10,000 or more are required to provide equal employment opportunity, take affirmative action, and comply with mandatory job listing requirements to employ and advance protected veterans. Federal contractors must take positive steps in all employment practices to enable protected veterans to be considered for employment opportunities, including hiring, promoting, and training. Protected veterans include Vietnam era and qualified "special" disabled veterans. A qualified "special" disabled veteran is a veteran who is entitled to compensation under the laws administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a disability rating of 30% or more; or, rated at 10% to 20% if it has been determined that the individual has a serious employment disability; or, a veteran who was discharged or released from active duty because of a service connected disability. This law is enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of the U.S. Department of Labor. For more information, contact OFCCP at 888-376-3227 (V) or visit the OFCCP Web site.

State Laws

Many states have employment laws covering either veterans or disabled veterans. For more information, contact your State Veterans Employment Service, a department of the State Employment Service. The agency is listed under state government agencies in the telephone directory.

Doris Appelbaum, Founder and President of Appelbaum's Resume Professionals, Inc., in Milwaukee, WI, is a professional resume writer and career consultant with 25+ years of experience. She has been quoted as an expert nationwide and has provided career transition services for major corporations and transitioning military. She is a career columnist for many publications and websites. Her career history includes career management for colleges, teaching and training, human resources for a government agency, and employment developmen. She was an honor graduate from Hofstra University with a BA - English/Journalism and an MS - Secondary Education.

Doris Appelbaum, President
Appelbaum's Resume Professionals, Inc.
P. O. Box 804
Milwaukee, WI 53201
414-352-5994 (office)
414-352-7495 (FAX)
Email Doris Appelbaum
Appelbaum's Resume' Professionals, Inc.