GDOL observes 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month

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This October commemorates the Department of Labor’s 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The 2020 theme is “Increasing Access and
Opportunity.”

“In this time of COVID-19 and as we look toward an economic rebound, it’s important to remember the many significant contributions made by members of our workforce with varied disabilities,” said Guam Department of Labor Director David Dell’Isola. “From our youth to our veterans with disabilities, we must acknowledge their rights in the workplace and educate employers on inclusive hiring practices.”

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a civil rights legislation that enforces the fair treatment of disabled individuals in the community as well as the workplace. When an employer treats a worker or potential employee negatively because of a disability, they have violated the Act and have committed disability discrimination.

To be protected by the law, a person must be qualified for the job and have a disability as defined by the law.

A person can show that he or she has a disability in one of three ways:

● A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits
a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, eating or learning).
● A person may be disabled if he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).

● A person may be disabled if he or she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor, even if he or she does not have such an impairment.

“Employers should know the law also requires them to provide reasonable accommodations to employees or applicants with disabilities,” said GDOL Fair Employment Practices Administrator Jeffrey Sablan. “The rights also apply to those who have a relationship with a person with a disability such as a spouse or parent.”

Anti-discrimiation laws protect individuals at every level of employment. This includes hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages and benefits.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is in charge of enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination and has the authority to investigate charges of discrimination against employers who are covered by the law.

Veterans with disabilities

As Guam has one of the highest military enlistment rates per capita in the nation, Guam employers must also be aware of the laws that protect veterans who return with disabilities. Common injuries include post traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries and missing limbs.

Generally employers cannot ask for medical information prior to making a job offer. In some instances though they may ask potential employees to volunteer information such as if they are a disabled veteran under affirmative action, which is the legal practice to favor those who have been known to experience discrimination.

The ADA limits the medical information employers can obtain, and forbids harassment and retaliation based on disabilities.

For more information about NDEAM, including ideas for how your organization can participate, visit www.dol.gov/ndeam. The website also features the 2020 NDEAM poster, highlighting ADA’s 30th anniversary.

If you feel you have experienced disability dsicrimination, please find more information oline at https://www.eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination.

(GDOL News Release)

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