Category Archives: Americans With Disabilities Act

Mental Health in the Workplace: How We Can Move Beyond the Stigma

Source: Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania, Knowledge@Wharton, Management, May 28, 2015

In the great order of things in the American workplace, many a stigma has fallen. Mental illness, though, has notably lagged — retaining its air of misunderstanding. …. But the social dynamics around mental illness may be changing. A combination of factors have come together in recent years — including the Americans with Disabilities Act — to lead many to believe that the stigma is finally fading, perhaps even in the workplace. ….

A state-by-state look at students referred to law enforcement

Source: Chris Zubak-Skees, Ben Wieder, Center for Public Integrity, April 10, 2015

U.S. Department of Education data shows that in most states black, Latino and special-needs (disabled) students get referred to police and courts disproportionately. The volume of referrals from schools is fueling arguments that zero tolerance policies and school policing are creating a “school-to-prison pipeline” by criminalizing behavior better dealt with outside courts. The Center for Public Integrity ranked states by their rate of referral for every 1,000 students. Hover or tap each demographic bar to get the percent of a group’s enrollment compared to the percent of referred students who belong to that group.

Cutting Social Security Disability Insurance Won’t Help Anyone Go Back to Work

Source: Rebecca Vallas, Center for American Progress, April 14, 2015

Policymakers and elected officials on both sides of the aisle have long shared the goal of helping people with disabilities work. However, recent proposals to cut Social Security Disability Insurance for beneficiaries who attempt to return to work represent a step in the wrong direction that would undermine this bipartisan objective…. To achieve its stated goal of ensuring that workers with disabilities—including those receiving Disability Insurance—have a fair shot at gainful employment and economic security, Congress should focus on enacting policies that remove barriers to employment, not add to them. Here are three reasons why Congress should reject these proposed cuts:
1. Policies should support, not discourage, Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries in returning to work. ….
2. Current benefits are modest but vital, and cuts would push more workers with disabilities into poverty ….
3. Unemployment insurance should be there for all workers who earn it, including those with disabilities ….

Disability insurance plans: trends in employee access and employer costs

Source: Kristen Monaco, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Beyond the Numbers, Pay & Benefits, Vol. 4 No. 4, February 2015

From the summary:
Short- and long-term disability insurance programs replace some of the wages lost by people who cannot work because of a disabling injury or illness that is not work-related. Short-term disability insurance typically covers periods lasting less than 6 months, and long-term disability insurance lasts for the length of the disability or until retirement.

Those workers who are unable to work due to injury or illness and who do not have disability insurance coverage through their employers may seek benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The number of SSDI claimants has grown over the past decade as younger workers and those in relatively low-skill, low-pay jobs have applied for benefits. This has prompted interest in the amount of coverage for workers in employer-provided disability insurance programs. This issue of Beyond the Numbers examines trends in employer-provided disability insurance coverage over time, explains the basic terms of coverage for typical plans, and estimates the costs to private employers.

Notes On: Making Room for Fido at Work: Animals in the workplace as Reasonable Accommodations

Source: James Kizziar and Amber Dodds, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 65 no. 4, Winter 2014
(subscription required)

Matthew is a pretty good employee, with the exception of a few emotional outbursts in his tenure. You have disciplined him for yelling at work a couple of times but he performs his job duties well. Recently, another employee told you that Matthew has been bringing his dog to work and hiding it under his desk. Although the other employee does nor mind, she mentioned that the dog is usually unleashed and once peed in the office (which Matthew promptly cleaned up). When you approach Matthew about not bringing his dog to the office, he responds “I have a service animal card, so I can bring him to the office.” Should or must Matthew be allowed to bring his dog to the office?

This situation is becoming more and more common as animals, usually dogs, are used as therapy companions for an increasing variety of medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, adjustment disorder, and anxiety. Employers should interpret requests by employees to bring animals to work as reasonable accommodation requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and engage in the interactive process to determine whether the accommodation may be granted or denied. ….

The Social Security Disability Insurance Program

Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, Vol. 46 no. 4, July/August 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) was added to Social Security in the 1950s and has grown into a large and complex institution in its own right that interacts with several other government and employer-provided benefit programs. It provides income replacement to the 8.9 million disabled workers and their families. SSDI is currently funded by a 1.8% Federal Insurance Contributions Act payroll tax on earned income up to $117,000 per year (indexed). That has not been enough, and the Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund will be depleted in 2016. There are indications that the solution is at hand. A proposal within the Office of the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration would shunt money from the Old Age and Survivors Insurance to the DI trust funds, thus postponing the “day of reckoning” for the combined Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance trust funds to 2033. It is imperative that Congress address this problem soon. The longer we wait, the harder it will be.

Telecommuting as a Reasonable Accommodation: A Remote Possibility?

Source: Dean A. Rocco, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 40 no. 3, Winter 2014
(subscription required)

This article addresses the issue of telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation. The author points out that employers that genuinely place an emphasis on employees working at the office or job site can expect to find support from the courts when they deny such requests. However, these employers must be prepared to explain legitimate business justifications for their position on telecommuting and ensure their policies and past practices are consistent with that position.

Older Americans With a Disability: 2008−2012

Source: Wan He and Luke J. Larsen, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Reports, ACS-29, December 2014

From the press release:
Nearly 40 percent of people age 65 and older had at least one disability, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report that covered the period 2008 to 2012. Of those 15.7 million people, two-thirds of them say they had difficulty in walking or climbing.

Difficulty with independent living, such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping, was the second-most cited disability, followed by serious difficulty in hearing, cognitive difficulty, difficulty bathing or dressing, and serious difficulty seeing.

While populous states such as California, Florida, New York and Texas had the largest number of older people with a disability, high disability rates were seen in Southern counties, especially in central Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta.

Older Americans With a Disability: 2008-2012, a report based on data collected during the American Community Survey, examines disability status by age, sex and selected socio-economic characteristics, such as marital status, living arrangement, educational attainment and poverty status.

Workers’ compensation: Poor quality health care and the growing disability problem in the United States

Source: Gary M. Franklin, Thomas M. Wickizer, Norma B. Coe, Deborah Fulton-Kehoe, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, first published online: October 20, 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The proportion of working age citizens permanently removed from the workforce has dramatically increased over the past 30 years, straining both Federal and State disability systems designed as a safety net to protect them. Almost one-third of these rapidly emerging disabilities are related to musculoskeletal disorders, and three of the top five diagnoses associated with the longest Years Lived with Disability are back, neck and other musculoskeletal disorders. The failure of Federal and state workers’ compensation systems to provide effective health care to treat non-catastrophic injuries has been largely overlooked as a principal source of permanent disablement and corresponding reduced labor force participation. Innovations in workers’ compensation health care delivery, and in use of evidence-based coverage methods such as prospective utilization review, are effective secondary prevention efforts that, if more widely adopted, could substantially prevent avoidable disability and provide more financial stability for disability safety net programs.

The Limitations of Disability Antidiscrimination Legislation: Policymaking and the Economic Well-Being of People with Disabilities

Source: Michelle Maroto, David Pettinicchio, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 36 No. 4, 2014

From the abstract:
Although Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to address, in large part, the declining economic well-being of people with disabilities — twenty years later — the trend has not reversed. To shed light on this puzzle, we use multilevel models to analyze Current Population Survey data from 1988 through 2012 matched with state-level predictors. We take a more nuanced approach than previous research and consider institutional factors related to the creation, enforcement, and interpretation of legislation, as well as individual demographics and employment situations. Our results show continual gaps in employment and earnings by disability status connected to the enactment of state-level antidiscrimination legislation, the number of ADA charges brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the results of ADA court settlements and decisions. Our findings suggest a complex relationship between legislative intent and policy outcomes, showcasing the multilayered institutional aspects behind the implementation of disability antidiscrimination legislation.