Employee flatulence is no laughing matter

October 19, 2014 1 COMMENTS

by Mark M. Schorr

Q Have you ever dealt with an extreme case of employee flatulence disrupting the workplace and causing coworkers to get sick and vomit? We have a situation right now in which a disabled employee is on a mix of medications that causes extreme flatulence. There have been numerous employee complaints, and more than one coworker has become very ill. There is no way to restructure the work assignments or job duties, as all of our employees in the area must work in close proximity on a packaging line.  flatulence

We have had some constructive meetings with the employee, but he just doesn’t understand the seriousness of the situation, and his treating physicians indicate there is no other medication mix that can accommodate his medical issues without this unfortunate side effect and no reasonably affordable medication to reduce the extreme flatulence. Just wondering if you have any advice for us in dealing with this issue.

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Resources available for employers trying to recruit people with disabilities

September 15, 2013 0 COMMENTS

As October nears, employers may be hearing a lot about how people with disabilities can benefit the workplace. Every year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) designates October as a time to raise awareness about the value of employing people with disabilities.

This year’s theme–“Because We Are EQUAL to the Task”–was chosen to show employers “the reality that people with disabilities have the education, training, experience, and desire to be successful in the workplace,” according to an announcement from ODEP.

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Facing the future: Growing numbers of workers with disabilities bring challenges, opportunities

April 14, 2013 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

A new study from business and research organization The Conference Board says that more than 10 percent of the U.S. population currently has some form of disability. Other research from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that disproportionate numbers of people with disabilities are either unemployed or working in jobs that pay low wages.

Employment statistics for people with disabilities have the potential to grow even bleaker in the near future as employers cope with an aging population and an influx of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with service-related disabilities. It’s clear that employers need to be ready to not just accommodate workers with disabilities but also capitalize on the strengths those employees can bring to the workplace. read more…

Get interactive, rules federal appellate court

April 14, 2013 0 COMMENTS

by Brandon Gearhart

A recent decision from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee employers) illustrates the importance of the interactive process when making employment decisions about a disabled worker. The court returned a previously dismissed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim to the lower court, in part because the employer made a decision regarding disability accommodations without consulting the disabled worker. 

Facts

Nicholas Keith was born deaf and is unable to speak. After receiving lifeguard certification from Oakland County, Michigan, he applied for a lifeguard position at the Oakland County wave pool in 2007. Katherine Stavale, Oakland County’s recreational specialist, offered Keith a lifeguard job conditioned on him passing a physical exam. Dr. Paul Work performed the exam. After looking at Keith’s medical records, Work stated, “He’s deaf; he can’t be a lifeguard.” He failed Keith because he didn’t believe he could function independently as a lifeguard. read more…

Employees on the autism spectrum: guidance for employers

December 16, 2012 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) – a group of developmental disabilities that can cause social, communication, and behavioral challenges – affect one in 88 children and one in 54 boys, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That makes autism the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States, according to the advocacy organization Autism Speaks. ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

The National Longitudinal Transition Study, a project of the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts in Boston revealed striking statistics about those affected by autism:

  • Although 67 percent of youth with autism who were part of a study on employment reported working at some point after high school, 42 percent earned less than the federal minimum wage, and most of the youth in the study reported that the majority of their coworkers were also people with disabilities. read more…

Federal government touts increase in employment of people with disabilities

November 18, 2012 0 COMMENTS

When President Obama signed Executive Order 13548 on July 26, 2010, he specifically set a goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities by 2015. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) not only lead federal agencies in the first two quarters of 2012 with 4.2 percent of all new hires being people with disabilities, the agency also trained 3,000 federal employees from more than 56 agencies on recruitment techniques for finding and hiring people with disabilities.

“People with disabilities are welcome in the federal family,” said OPM Director John Berry. “We need the talents and creativity of all people—including people with disabilities—to help do the work of the American people.  We are doing anything possible to remove barriers to their employment, and the good news is that we’re moving in the right direction, and you can see it in the numbers.”

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Technology can make the workplace more accessible to the disabled

September 16, 2012 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

It’s natural to question what the future will bring to the workplace. How many more resources will the Internet make available? What new apps have the potential to revolutionize the world of work? How will technology enable employees to overcome disabilities?

The questions – and answers – seem limitless as technology advances at a dizzying pace. Those in the workforce for even a short time have seen innovations bring groundbreaking change. And change isn’t likely to slow.

Role of technology

More and more employers are being called on to use technology to make the workplace accessible to employees and applicants with disabilities. The federal government continues to encourage – some would say force – employers to reach out to people with disabilities.

In July, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that in fiscal year 2011, employees with disabilities represented 7.41 percent of the overall federal government workforce and 11 percent when the figures included veterans who are 30 percent or more disabled. read more…

Additional efforts to employ disabled people proposed by Senator

September 16, 2012 1 COMMENTS

by Burton J. Fishman

Over the past 35 years, perhaps the greatest expansion in civil rights has involved individuals with disabilities. In virtually every realm of American life, from elementary education to professional sports, accommodations for the disabled have become commonplace. The genesis of this profound alteration of attitudes and practices has been debated for at least three decades.

For some, it is a natural extension of the human rights agenda, especially important in an aging society. For others, it is a misplaced expansion of the hyper individualism of the late 20th century, which insists in various ways that no student fails and no employee is unqualified. What makes the debate of critical importance is the role of government to impose and enforce laws, rules, and regulations mandating special treatment. The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed regulations to compel federal contractors to fill seven percent of all jobs with disabled workers is the latest example of the belief that solutions to complicated problems are but one more regulation away. read more…

Ex-EEOC employee met requirements to pursue disability claim against agency

September 16, 2012 0 COMMENTS

by Nancy Williams

Just as private-sector workers are required to file an administrative charge of discrimination before filing a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, federal employees also have prefiling requirements. In a disability discrimination case against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the 9th Circuit recently decided that the employee had taken all necessary steps and could proceed with her claim.

Was filing of lawsuit fatally premature?

Mary Bullock was an administrative law judge (ALJ) for the EEOC from 1999 to 2007. She suffers from both multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus. In January 2003, she filed an informal disability discrimination complaint, and four months later, she filed a formal complaint. She claimed the EEOC had failed to accommodate her condition and thus had violated the federal Rehabilitation Act. The informal and formal complaint steps track the requirements of Title VII for federal employee claims. read more…

Employing People with Disabilities: What Does New Proposed Rule Mean?

January 15, 2012 2 COMMENTS

By Tammy Binford

Government statistics show that unemployment among people with disabilities is far higher than unemployment for people without disabilities. Year-end figures for 2011 are not yet available, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has figures revealing that the 2010 unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 14.8 percent. That’s more than one and a half times higher than the rate for people without disabilities, which was 9.4 percent.

What may be more startling than the unemployment rate is the number of people with disabilities who aren’t even in the labor force at all. According to data published in December by the BLS, 79.2 percent of working-age individuals with disabilities are outside the labor force, compared to 30.5 percent of those without disabilities.

Now the federal government is trying to take steps to narrow the employment gap between those with and without disabilities by proposing that federal contractors and subcontractors set a hiring goal of having seven percent of their workforces be made up of people with disabilities. read more…

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