Newsletter: October 19, 2009

Northeast ADA October 19, 2009 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

Martha Stewart Empire Sued After Terminating Employee with a Disability:
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. allegedly violated federal, state, and city laws when it fired an employee, who had generated millions of dollars for the company during her employment, after she became disabled due to being struck by a car in May 2008. The complaint was filed in New York federal court and claims that the corporation failed to make accommodations for the employee's disability and terminated her three weeks after the accident. Read more at: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/martha-stewart-empire-sued-after-terminating-disabled-employee-according-to-outten--golden-llp-63662302.html   

Don't Forget: Funding Opportunities for Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands: 
The DBTAC-Northeast ADA Center is announcing the availability of a $30,000 per year sub-contract to a Puerto Rico affiliate and a $20,000 per year one for the U.S. Virgin Islands. The affiliates, who must be located in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, will be expected to provide outreach, technical assistance, local support, and resources to businesses, employers, government entities, and individuals with disabilities throughout their territory for a period of up to 2 years. Puerto Rico applicants should note that while all communication (written and verbal) with the DBTAC-Northeast ADA Center staff will occur in English, the affiliate should also be fluent in Spanish to facilitate communication with stakeholders in Puerto Rico. This is a competitive Request for Proposals and one winning applicant from each territory will be selected. Deadline for submitting proposals is December 1, 2009. For more information, contact us at either 1.800.949.4232 or dbtacnortheast@cornell.edu.


What's New in the Rest of the Country:

October 21st is National Disability Mentoring Day (DMD):
DMD is a national effort to promote career development for students and job seekers with disabilities through hands-on career exploration, on-site job shadowing, and ongoing mentoring leading to internship and employment opportunities. Hosted by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), DMD connects nearly 20,000 job-seekers with disabilities with thousands of employers in more than 300 locations in every U.S. State and Territory and in more than 24 countries worldwide each year. For more information, go to either:  http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/10/disability-mentoring-day-celebrates-10th-anniversary.html or: http://www.dmd-aapd.org/DMD/index.html  Event dates vary by location so to find a DMD Coordinator in your area, go to: http://www.dmd-aapd.org/DMD/DMDforcoordinators.html

Workforce3 One Unveils New Disability Employment Resource: 
Recognizing the need to expand its capacity to provide integrated, seamless, and accessible services and programs to people with disabilities, the public workforce system is building upon lessons learned from the Employment and Training Administration's Disability Program Navigator initiative and collaborating with a wide range of partners to help this population obtain meaningful and effective employment opportunities. The Disability and Employment Website contains videos, podcasts, and a host of resources, including those for employers, to help "connect the pieces of the employment puzzle". To access the Website, go to: http://disability.workforce3one.org/

EEOC Will Hold Town-Hall Meetings to Advance Disability Employment: 
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and other agencies including Department of Justice, will host town-hall meetings, and provide workshops as part of a Federal Government job fair in early Spring 2010, on new federal regulations and hiring procedures as part of an Obama Administration-wide effort to advance opportunities for workers with disabilities. The town-hall meetings will occur in Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans, all by November 20th. Read more at: http://www.eeoc.gov/press/10-7-09.html

EEOC and CDC Offer Guidance on H1N1 Flu and Pandemic Preparedness:
While businesses and employers work to protect employees during a pandemic, concern has arisen around how to best remain ADA-compliant. The EEOC has addressed this concern by issuing new guidance and documents clarifying what would be considered "direct threat" and "disability related" questions. For the EEOC technical assistance document on pandemic preparedness and the ADA:  http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/pandemic_flu.html.  EEOC notice on employment discrimination and pandemic H1N1 flu: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/h1n1.html. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created this workplace guidance for preventing pandemic H1N1 flu: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/business/guidance.

Ruling on Return-to-Work Tests Sets Fine Line for Employers:
As a result of Kris Indergard vs. Georgia-Pacific Corp. employers may need to re-evaluate functional ability tests that they give to injured employees to see if they are capable of returning to work. In this case, the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals ruled that an employee could sue their employer for violating the ADA because of the way a vendor administered a return-to-work evaluation. This is the first time a federal appeals court has weighed guidelines from the EEOC to determine when a physical capacity evaluation/functional capacity evaluation crosses the line to become a medical exam that might not be job-related. Read more at: http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20091004/ISSUE01/310049972#   

U.S. Health & Human Services (HHS) Awards $40 Million for Health Insurance:
HHS recently announced $40 million in grants to 69 programs in 42 states, including New York and New Jersey, to help them find and enroll children who are uninsured but eligible for either Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To read more and see the full list of grantees, go to: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/09/20090930a.html    

Healthcare Bill favorable for Autism and Independent Living:
An emerging healthcare reform bill in the Senate now includes expanded independent living options and autism insurance. The Senate finance committee also included the Community Choice First Options, which offers states the ability to obtain increased federal matching funds to support individuals with disabilities who live in the community. Read more about the bill and process of passing it at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/09/28/health-care-bill-senate/5563/

Senate Confirms Tom Perez and Alexa Posny:
This month the Senate confirmed Tom Perez as head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, the federal agency that enforces the ADA, and Alexa Posny as the Department of Education's Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/10/senate-confirms-perez-doj-and-posny-doed.html

Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Eliminated in 2010:
Given the fact that consumer index prices are down, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 57 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2010. Each January SSA ordinarily provides a COLA increase to its beneficiaries so this will be the first year without this automatic increase since they went into effect in 1975. There is a tentative plan to make another $250 recovery payment to Social Security beneficiaries but nothing has been finalized. For additional information about the 2010 COLA, go to: www.socialsecurity.gov/cola

National Institute of Health Launches Research on the Health Benefits of Pets:
Given the many reports of service animals having such a positive impact on their owners, the National Institute of Health is launching a new research project to see if animals have a tangible effect on children's well-being. Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/health/06pets.html?_r=2.  

Amid Concerns Regarding Autism, H1N1 Vaccine Approved:
Concern has been raised about the relation between autism and thimerosal, a chemical in the H1N1 vaccine. However, studies have shown that there is no link and most vaccines given to children do not contain the mercury-based preservative:   http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/09/16/h1n1-vaccines-approved/4942/ 

 

Opportunities for You!

Public Comments to EEOC on Proposed ADA Regulations Due Nov. 23rd
The EEOC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) revising its ADA Amendments Act regulations and is accepting public comments until November 23rd. The NPRM is posted at www.eeoc.gov, along with a question and answer guide about the proposal and how to submit comments. For those of you in our region, you may also submit comments to Larry Featherston at lwf27@cornell.edu. For the press release, go to:  http://www.eeoc.gov/ada/amendments_notice.html

ATIA Leadership Forum on Accessibility- Early Bird Rate Ends November 20th:
The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Leadership Forum on Accessibility will be January 28-29, 2010 in Florida. This Forum provides corporations, government agencies, education institutions, and others focused on customer initiatives and workplace strategies supporting individuals with age- or disability-related impairments with a venue to discuss advantages and strategies for integrating accessibility. Early bird registration rates end November 20th. For more details, go to: https://www.atia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3368

26th Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities:
The Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawaii cordially invites you to submit a proposal to, and/or to register for, the 26th Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities on April 12-13, 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii.  There will have several pre and post conference forums, including Capacity Building Institutes, The International Forum on the Rights of People with Disabilities, an international film festival, and more. For registration and proposal information, go to:  http://www.pacrim.hawaii.edu/

Participate in the National "What If Plan":
The "What If Plan" is an activity of the National ADA Symposium and the result of years of working with people throughout the country who are involved in implementing the principles of the ADA in their communities. This activity stems from the belief that government needs to hear recommendations from these very people in order to effectively plan the direction of ADA implementation for the next decade. This Plan consists of recommendations from prior ADA Symposium participants and you are now invited to contribute by providing comments on how the recommendations can be put into action. Comments will be periodically summarized and refined until a cohesive plan emerges, ideally in time for the 20th anniversary of the ADA next summer. To view the recommendations and find out how to offer comments, go to: http://www.whatifplan.org/HowtoParticipate.html.

  

Special Spotlight on National Disability Employment Awareness Month Continues!

As we know, October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is charged with deciding the theme each year, and this year's is "Expectation + Opportunity = Full Participation".  Throughout this month, ODEP Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez will be spreading the message of NDEAM throughout the country. To keep up to date with the NDEAM happenings and celebrations, visit: http://www.dol.gov/odep/programs/ndeam.htm#top.  Last News Bulletin we featured several NDEAM highlights and examples of how to keep the message alive all year. Read below for even more!

Obama Announces New Initiatives During NDEAM: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/10/president-obama-announces-new-initiatives-during-national-disability-employment-awareness-month.html

U.S. Department of Justice Commemorates NDEAM:  http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/justice-department-commemorates-national-disability-employment-awareness-month-63773087.html

U.S. Department of Education Statement on NDEAM: http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2009/10/10062009.html

Kessler Foundation, N.J. Urges Improvement in Employment Opportunities for the Disability Community: http://newsblaze.com/story/2009101406011200009.pnw/topstory.html#

ODEP Steps up Efforts to Serve Workers with Disabilities: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/odep/ODEP20091228.htm

New Issue Briefs from ODEP-funded National Technical Assistance and Research Leadership Center on entrepreneurship for veterans, leveraging state resources to create job opportunities, and the relationship between disability employment initiatives and employers: http://www.dol.gov/odep/#three

BusinessWeek article "Disabled Workers; Employer Fears Are Groundless": http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/oct2009/ca2009102_029034.htm

   

See you in a few weeks!!!