The Americans With Disabilities Act Turns Twenty, But Many Are Still Overlooked
White Plains, NY (Law Firm Newswire) October 2, 2012 - The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted 22 years ago, and yet many qualified people with disabilities are being overlooked when it comes to gainful employment. Military veterans appear to be a highly excluded group.
A 2011 poll, conducted by the Northeast ADA Center and the Society for Human Resource Management, found that 67 percent of polled HR professionals included military veterans in their company's hiring policy, or as part of their diversity outreach within the past year. Meanwhile, just 17 percent of those HR professionals stated that they hired a military veteran who disclosed, either during or after hire, that they had a disability. And, while there are numerous resources made available to HR, respondents indicated that they were unaware of many of those resources.
The poll showed that more than 60 percent did not know about the Wounded Warrior Project, and almost 60 percent were not aware of veterans' service organizations, including the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans. Also, of the HR professionals who indicated that they were aware of some of these programs, less than 3 percent said that they had used the resources within the past 12 months.
According to the American Community Survey by Cornell University, there are more than two million disabled veterans, some 18.4 percent of U.S. civilian veterans between the ages of 21 and 64, with a service-connected disability, as of 2010.
America's veterans played a pivotal role in the establishment of rights for Americans with disabilities. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, was designed to provide and support the establishment of numerous programs to offer returning vets vocational rehabilitation, pushing for access in public buildings and public transportation, and prohibiting employment discrimination.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was designed to be a comprehensive civil rights law prohibiting discrimination against someone based on his or her disability, defined as mental or physical, which substantially limits one or more major life activities. It was signed into law in 1990, and bans discrimination in employment, public accommodation, public services, transportation and telecommunications.
The original intent of the ADA was to create a civil rights law that would not be later reversed or weakened, but would be permanent, to keep Americans with disabilities in the forefront of healthcare laws, public policy changes and civil rights protection, including cognitive impairments, as well as physical and mental disabilities.
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Maria M. Brill
Littman Krooks LLP
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