On February 28, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released two guidance documents concerning veterans with disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that it says have been revised to reflect changes in the law as a result of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and as an “outgrowth” of a public meeting held last year. The guidance documents are intended to answer questions that may arise both for employers and veterans with service-related disabilities.
“Over the past decade three million veterans have returned from military service and another one million are expected to return to civilian life over the course of the next five years with the anticipated drawdown of operations in the Middle East,” according to the EEOC. An October report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that unemployment for post-9/11 era veterans hovers around 12 percent – more than three percentage points higher than the overall unemployment rate.
The ADAAA makes it easier for veterans with a wide range of impairments – including poorly understood ones, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to obtain reasonable accommodations that will enable them to work successfully.
On November 16, 2011, the Commission held a public meeting on barriers to employment of veterans with disabilities at which it heard testimony from a panel of experts on the unique needs of veterans with disabilities transitioning to civilian employment. “The particular challenges faced by veterans with disabilities in obtaining employment has been the subject of increased attention in recent months, as large numbers of veterans return from service in Iraq and Afghanistan,” according to the EEOC.
Guidance for employers. The Commission’s revised Guide for Employers explains how the ADA applies to recruiting, hiring and accommodating veterans with disabilities. It also explains how protections for veterans with service-connected disabilities differ under the ADA and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as well as laws and regulations that may be helpful to employers that want to make hiring veterans with disabilities a priority.
Guidance for wounded veterans. On the other hand, the EEOC’s revised Guide for Wounded Veterans addresses questions that veterans with service-related disabilities may have about protections to which they are entitled as they try to return to former jobs or find civilian employment. The guidance also discusses the sort accommodations that may be necessary to help them obtain and maintain employment.
Editor’s Note:We’ve had more and more requests for information on hiring veterans and disabled veterans in the past year. Below are some resources that might be useful.