EEOC Guidance on Employing Disabled Veterans
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just issued two guides (one for employers and one for disabled veterans) addressing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and employment protections for veterans with service-connected disabilities.
The guides reflect legal changes made to ADA laws when the ADA was amended in 2008. These legal changes, according to the EEOC, made it “easier for veterans with a wide range of impairments – including those that are often not well understood – such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTD), to get needed reasonable accommodations that will enable them to work successfully.”
The Guide for Employers explains how the ADA applies to recruiting, hiring and accommodating disabled veterans. The guide also explains the difference between protection for veterans provided by the ADA versus those protections provided by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
For example, the Guide for Employers explains that:
- It is illegal for an employer to refuse to hire a veteran because he/she has PTSD, because he/she was previously diagnosed with PTSD, or because the employer assumes he/she has PTSD.
- An employer may not refuse to hire a veteran based on assumptions about the veteran’s ability to do a job because he/she has a VA disability rating (from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).
The Guide for Employers also addresses whether and when an employer can inquire if an applicant for employment is a disabled veteran for affirmative action purposes (including veterans’ preferences) without violating the ADA.
In addition to the Guide for Employers, the Guide for Wounded Veterans educates veterans on their employment rights, including reasonable accommodation for disabilities.
The EEOC states that three million veterans have returned from military service over the past decade and another one million are expected to return over the course of the next five years as Middle East military operations scale back.
Recent veterans report high rates of service-connected disabilities — higher than rates veterans reported in the past. According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 25 percent of recent veterans report having a service-connected disability, as compared to about 13 percent of all veterans.
As a reminder, HRWatchdog previously blogged that the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) is working with employers and employees to help veterans take advantage of the state and federal benefits they may have earned through military service, including veterans’ disability benefits.
Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Editor/Staff Counsel