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Federal Proposal Calls For Disability Hiring Quota

by Shaun Heasley | February 25, 2016

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is proposing a new rule that calls for 12 percent of all employees at each federal agency to be people with disabilities. Above, the Treasury Building in Washington. (Thinkstock)

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Under a new proposal, the federal government would be required to take sweeping steps to utilize affirmative action to increase the number of workers with disabilities in its ranks.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said this week that it is proposing a rule that would require federal agencies to work toward a 12 percent workforce representation rate for people with disabilities and a 2 percent representation rate for those with targeted or severe conditions including intellectual disability.

Moreover, the rule calls for government agencies to provide personal assistance to employees with disabilities who need help with eating, using the restroom and other basic human functions while at work.

“This rule can be a game-changer,” said EEOC Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum who led the group that developed the proposal. “Since 2013, federal contractors have been required to meet goals for the employment of individuals with disabilities. EEOC’s proposed rule will hold the federal government to an even higher standard, particularly with regard to hiring people with targeted disabilities and providing personal assistance services.”

The hiring goals would apply to all levels of federal employment, the EEOC said. If agencies fail to achieve the stated minimums, the rule would require them to take various steps to increase their hiring and retention of people with disabilities, depending on the particular circumstance.

Federal agencies already must have affirmative action plans for hiring people with disabilities under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. Such plans are subject to approval from the EEOC.

However, no single rule has ever outlined what those policies should look like. The EEOC said it is attempting to clarify expectations with its current proposal, which is up for public comment through April 25.

OHFA CELEBRATES 48TH ANNUAL FAIR HOUSING MONTH

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) joins the nation in observing April as Fair Housing Month. "A core belief of our values as Americans is the idea that every person deserves a fair chance to secure safe and stable housing," said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro. "Your race, how you get around, the size of your family, whether you come from another country, if you are a man or a woman, or whatever your religious beliefs are should never hinder your housing goals. I am proud of the work our fair housing staff does every day in conjunction with our state and local partners to ensure that everyone's fair housing rights are honored."

Last year, HUD and its Fair Housing Assistance Program partner agencies received 8,293 complaints alleging discrimination based on one or more protected classes: race, color, national origin, religion, gender, family status and disability. During that period, the categories with the highest number of complaints were disability and race, respectively. The Fair Housing Act applies to housing and housing-related activities, including apartment and home rentals, real estate sales, mortgage lending and homeowners insurance.

Adopted in 1968 and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Fair Housing Act applies to housing and housing-related activities, including apartment and home rentals, real estate sales, mortgage lending and homeowners insurance. Actions that violate the Act include:

  • Refusal to rent or sell housing;
  • Refusal to negotiate for housing;
  • Setting different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a property; and/or
  • Advertising or making any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap.

As the state's affordable housing leader, OHFA serves as a vital resource for Ohioans in their search for housing options through a variety of programs for renters and homebuyers with low- to moderate-incomes. To date, OHFA has helped to finance more than 128,000 units of affordable rental housing across the state.

"Granting every Ohioan equal access to safe, affordable and decent housing is not only essential in the affordable housing industry, it is at the core of OHFA's mission," said OHFA Executive Director Doug Garver. "We are proud to join the nation in observing Fair Housing Month, as no family should ever be denied the opportunity to own or rent a home."

Ohio Governor John R. Kasich issued a resolution recognizing Fair Housing Month and OHFA's continuing efforts to provide Ohioans with safe and affordable housing. In Fiscal Year 2015, 19.8 percent of homebuyers served by OHFA were minorities. Since 1987, OHFA has provided financing for more than 70,000 units of family housing, more than 34,000 units of senior housing and more than 6,300 units of permanent supportive housing. Individuals and families seeking permanent supportive housing often have long histories of homelessness and face persistent obstacles to maintaining housing, such as mental illness, a substance use disorder or a chronic medical problem.

"This month calls for OHFA and its partners to commemorate the advancements in making equal access to affordable housing available to every Ohioan," added Garver. "OHFA serves as an advocate for fair housing and remains committed to being an affordable housing leader."

For more information on OHFA and its programs, visit www.ohiohome.org or call 888.362.6432. For more information on the Fair Housing Act, visit the HUD website.

 

New Behavioral Health Resources for Ohio’s Deaf Community

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ Disparities and Cultural Competence (DACC) Advisory Committee has released new behavioral health resources for Ohio’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The DACC Committee partnered with Ohio Association of the Deaf, Inc. to record videos in American Sign Language that focus on alcohol and drug addiction, suicide prevention, and the impact of trauma on lifelong wellness. Click the following to view/listen to the videos.

  • What is Drug and Alcohol Addiction: Audio
  • What is Drug and Alcohol Addiction: Video
  • Suicide Prevention: Audio
  • Suicide Prevention: Video
  • Traumatic Events can Impact Wellness: Audio
  • Traumatic Events can Impact Wellness: Video

 

Pediatricians Should Look for Risk Factors Linked to Teen Suicide

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released new guidelines for Pediatricians that includes looking for risk factors linked to teen suicide. The guidelines were first published in 2007, and were updated this year. Risk factors that are included in the guidelines include substance abuse, a history of physical or sexual abuse, mood disorders, identifying as LGBT, and bullying. To see more, click here

 

U.S. House Passes Mental Health Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives have passed a mental health bill. The “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” aims to improve the oversight and effectiveness of federal mental health programs, and authorizes a range of grants for treatment. The measure would create a new assistant secretary role in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to oversee mental health and substance abuse programs. The bill also authorizes grants for areas such as preventing suicide and early intervention for children with mental illnesses. To read more, click here

Action Alert: Anderson Cooper’s ADA Attack on 60 Minutes
The National Council on Independent Living is alarmed and appalled by the December 4th segment on 60 Minutes addressing the Americans with Disabilities Act and “drive-by lawsuits.” The segment, hosted by Anderson Cooper, was one-sided, rife with inaccuracies, and glaringly dismissive of the disability community. 
Take Action
Contact Anderson Cooper and 60 Minutes and ask that they air another segment that gives equal airtime to the struggle of the millions of Americans with disabilities who still lack basic access to our communities. 
·        Contact 60 Minutes on Twitter: @60Minutes and @AndersonCooper
Instead of addressing the fact that 26 years after the passage of the ADA there are still so many businesses not complying with the law, Anderson Cooper and 60 Minutes chose to focus on the largely overblown issue of “drive-by lawsuits.” To be clear, NCIL condemns the actions of those attorneys who are abusing the ADA and making profits off of the civil rights of people with disabilities. While small in number, the actions of these attorneys are harmful to the nearly 57 million Americans with disabilities, and the repercussions of their actions risk increasing the access barriers that we already face. That is unacceptable, and we cannot stand for it.
That said, NCIL supports the right of people with disabilities who have faced discrimination to file complaints and lawsuits. Twenty-six years after the passage of the ADA, people with disabilities are still discriminated against by businesses that either don’t take our needs into account or openly exclude us. With no oversight mechanism, we have seen businesses around the country wait to comply with the law until they receive a complaint, meaning that not only is the onus on the disability community to ‘monitor’ compliance, but also that until we complain we are excluded from their places of business. We are appalled that Anderson Cooper used his platform to shine a light on an undeniably small problem while paying no attention to the access issues millions of us face every day in our own communities.
On top of that, the segment was full of inaccuracies. First, Anderson Cooper stated that most states and the District of Columbia allow for monetary damages for accessibility violations under the ADA. This is false. The reality is that monetary damages are based on state laws in only a handful of states, and several of these states – including California where some examples in the segment were based – have recently passed legislation disallowing damages in addition to making it harder to file a claim under the ADA in the first place. Second, the segment presented compliance with the ADA as overly burdensome and bordering on unnecessary. In reality, the ADA is just one of a multitude of laws, requirements, and codes that businesses have to comply with, and implying that it is unnecessary is wrong and offensive. The segment implied that ADA compliance should only be necessary if people with disabilities patronize a business, while the fact of the matter is the people with disabilities often don’t patronize businesses precisely because they aren’t accessible to us! People with disabilities are full-fledged members of our communities, and the intent of the ADA was to ensure that all public spaces are accessible to all people.
Lastly, NCIL has grave concerns with the fact that Anderson Cooper did not include any disability activists in the segment. The only people with disabilities shown in the segment were portrayed as pawns being used by the unethical attorneys, and this is incredibly offensive. Twenty-six years ago, the ADA was passed because of the hard work and dedication of disabled activists all over the country. Now, 26 years later, we continue to fight for our civil and human rights to be recognized. The 60 Minutes segment’s portrayal of people with disabilities was patronizing and inaccurate, and we demand better.
We strongly urge Anderson Cooper and 60 Minutes to air another segment that gives equal airtime to the struggle of the millions of Americans with disabilities who still lack basic access to our communities.

 



 
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