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America's Disabled A Handbook for Hiring Disabled Employees Monica Irby Colorado State University

The purpose of this handbook is to help educate employers about the benefits of hiring disabled employees and to help diffuse some common myths associated with disabled employees. Within this online handbook you will learn the truth to some common employment myths, statistics related to employment, resources available to businesses hiring disabled individuals and more.


Hiring Disabled Employees

Contents Background of the American Disabilities Act ................................................................................ 3 What is Considered Disabled? ........................................................................................................ 4 According to the ADA, what are the three ways an individual can identify as disabled Common Myths Associated with Hiring Disabled Individuals ...................................................... 5 It costs too much to make the modifications needed If I hire a disabled employee, I will not be able to fire them I will have to alter my job requirements if I hire a disabled individual When there are several qualified applicants if one has a disability I am required to hire that individual Statistics .......................................................................................................................................... 6 Tax Incentives ................................................................................................................................. 7 Disabled Credit Act Work Opportunity Credit Barrier Removal Tax Deduction Vocational Rehabilitation Program Why is it important how a community views your business? ........................................................ 8 Walgreens: A Case Study ............................................................................................................... 9 Finding Qualified Workers with Disabilities ................................................................................ 11 Sources for employers and disabled employees to connect Resources ...................................................................................................................................... 13 Additional reading and helpful information

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Hiring Disabled Employees

Background of the American Disabilities Act

This provides a background to the ADA, but also demonstrates why the hiring of disabled individuals is a topic that needs to be addressed.

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed in 1990, over two decades ago, but the struggle with equality began long before that with people speaking out about discrimination against individuals with disabilities. People with a history of cancer, loss of limbs, learning disabilities and many other forms of disabilities were unable to find jobs and took at stand for equality. This was the beginning of the fight toward equality in the workplace for people of disabilities; however it is not the end. As the unemployment rate shows, even though discrimination among disabled individuals is against the law, and so is the pre-screening of disabilities for employment, the unemployment rate among disabled individuals is higher than the national average of unemployment. Many reasons contribute to this high rate of unemployment, but one of the big barriers to overcome is lack of hiring on the part of companies. So why should you hire people with disabilities?

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Hiring Disabled Employees

What is Considered Disabled?

While many people believe that disabilities are obvious, such as amputations, cognitive disabilities or other physical disabilities this is not always the case. The ADA recognizes that not all disabilities are medical problems and defines a disability in three ways. If he/she

1. "has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity." This can be a problem with walking, talking, seeing, hearing or learning. This encompasses what most people think of when they think disability 2. "has a history of a disability." Individuals who have had cancer but are now in remission fall into this category. These individuals often are seen as liabilities due to the fact they can get sick again and often need to take special medications. 3. "is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment)."

When considering these requirements, more people than one originally would have though fall into the category of a disabled individual.

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Hiring Disabled Employees

Common Myths Associated with Hiring Disabled Individuals

Myth: It costs too much to make modifications needed to make my business disabled friendly. Fact: According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, if the cost of renovations would cause the employer undue hardship then the employer does not have to provide the accommodations. Also the employer does not have to give the employee the accommodation he/she wants. If more than one change will work, the employer is able to choose which accommodation is made. Myth: Once I hire a disabled individual, I will not be able to fire them without being sued. Fact: While it is illegal for an employer to fire based on the disability, the employee must meet the same standards of work as other employees and it is false to believe that once a disabled employee is hired, you are unable to fire them. The Department of Labor describes the three ways in which an employee can be fired under the ADA. The first way is if the reason for being fired is unrelated to the disability, the second is if the employee is unable to meet the job requirements with or without reasonable accommodation and the third is if because of the disability they are a threat to the health or safety of the workplace. Also businesses who hire disabled individuals have a higher chance of being in compliance with the ADA. Myth: I will have to alter my businesses job requirements if I hire a disabled employee. Fact: According to the ADA, a business does not have to "remove or alter a job's essential functions, lower production standards, or excuse violations of conduct rules necessary for the operation of your business." The ADA only covers a person who is qualified for the job he/she wants. Myth: When there are several qualified applicants for a job and one has a disability, the ADA requires the employer to hire the disabled person. Fact: The employer has the right to choose who they hire, provided the reasoning is not based on the disability.

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Hiring Disabled Employees

Statistics

More than 1 in 10 Americans has at least one disability

Americans with disabilities are twice as likely to end up in poverty

76% of disabled individuals are unemployed

Most accommodations are not expensive o 1/5 cost nothing o over half cost between $1-$500

Studies show that approximately 25% of disabled employees require no accommodations.

When Walgreens opened their new distribution center in South Carolina over 30% of their open positions were filled by disabled personnel. o Their center operated 20% more efficiently than similar centers

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Hiring Disabled Employees

Tax Incentives

Below are federal tax credit opportunities as well as federal incentives available to assist in the hiring and employment of people with disabilities. Along with federal help, many states have incentives specific to their state.

Disabled Credit Act: This provides a non-refundable credit for small businesses that incur costs for the purpose of providing access to persons with disabilities. A small business is a business that earns $1 million or less and has 30 or fewer full time employees. Work Opportunity Credit: provides eligible employers with a tax credit up to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of first-year wages of a new employee if the employee is part of a “targeted group.� Employees with disabilities are part of a "targeted group." As of Nov 2011, the Work Opportunity Credit was extended to include disabled veterans who begin work after November 11, 2011 and before January 1, 2013 and makes the credit available to tax exempt organizations. Barrier Removal Tax Deduction: This annual deduction of up to $15,000 is available to businesses of any size for the costs of removing barriers for people with disabilities, including the following: providing accessible parking spaces, ramps, and curb cuts; providing wheelchairaccessible telephones, water fountains, and restrooms; making walkways at least 48 inches wide; and making entrances accessible. Vocational Rehabilitation (VF) Program: This federal-state program was set up to help assist individuals with disabilities get jobs. An on the job program can be set up between an employer and an individual in the Vocational rehabilitation program in which VR will share in the payment of wages for a limited time. Programs vary by state. ***Check with your local state governments for state incentives. ***

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Hiring Disabled Employees

Why is it important how a community views your business? When a company is known for employed people with disabilities, this often reflects well upon the company. Below are a few of the benefits the companies receive by being appealing to the general public.

With review websites such as Google and Yelp being such a large market, positive reviews and word of mouth is the biggest form of publicity

Earn a good reputation in the community

Opens doors to bringing in more qualified employees

Broadens the customer base when the business is disabled friendly

Companies benefit greatly from good publicity, and as with the examples above, word of mouth in a community is one of the greatest forms of advertisement. By demonstrating a willingness to hire people who are disabled, you are also appealing to your consumers.

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Hiring Disabled Employees

Walgreens: A Case Study One of the most known businesses to implement an idea for hiring a large number of people with disabilities, below is a breakdown of their most important factors of consideration as well as some of the benefits they have reaped. To date more than 100 companies have visited their Distribution Centers in an attempt to mimic their success.

In 2007 when Walgreens opened their new distribution center in South Carolina, their goal was to have 30% of their employees be disabled.. Based on a study conducted at four locations over three years, they were able to conclude individuals with disabilities have a lower turnover rate than their non-disabled counterpart. They surpassed that goal and in return have a production rate 20% higher than similar centers. When the idea was first proposed Walgreens looked to other companies for examples. Unable to find any other companies, they created their own plan. Their three main strategies were: 1. Establish relationships with state and local agencies early on to help with the initial screen and training of candidates with disabilities. 2. Build a workplace conductive to accommodate employees with all different kinds of disabilities focusing on equipment selection, building design and management practices. 3. Create a welcoming and accepting culture on the first day. Safety was top priority. When it came to safety and training, Walgreens realized that it would have to encompass more than typical training. Initial training included basic life skills, such as how to use a time clock and personal hygiene. The training room set up had an unused conveyer and expired donated products for candidates to train on. There was no time limit on training, training was unpaid, so candidates could stay as long as it took them to understand and complete their tasks. When the candidates demonstrate an 80% target work rate, Walgreen and the job coaches agreed the candidate could become a Walgreens employee and they began a 45-trial period.

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Hiring Disabled Employees The obstacles that Walgreens overcame to have such a huge population of disabled workers was huge, but they succeed and in doing so have seen many benefits. Data collected showed that the disabled employee population: 

67% lower costs for medical treatment

73% less costs for time off

77% less expense cost

had less accidents than the general population

For more information on inclusion visit: www.walgreensoutreach.com or call Deborah Russell at (847)315-8882

Full story available at: http://www.asse.org/professionalsafety/pastissues/057/06/062_071_F1Ka_0612.pdf

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Hiring Disabled Employees

Finding Qualified Workers with Disabilities Resources for employees and employers alike. Places for employers to post jobs to reach to people with disabilities, these are frequently used job seeking websites that people with disabilities can find jobs they are qualified.

CareerOneStophttp://www.careeronestop.org/

Disabled Person www.disabledperson.com

Employer Assistance Referral Network (EARN) - a national toll-free telephone and electronic information referral service to assist employers in locating and recruiting qualified workers with disabilities. EARN is a service of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy with additional support provided by the Social Security Administration's Office of Employment Support Programs: 1-866- EARN NOW (327-6669) www.earnworks.com National Business & Disability Council - provides full range of services to assist businesses successfully integrate people with disabilities into the workplace: (516) 873-9607 or (516) 465-1501 www.business-disability.com www.abletowork.org www.ncds.org RISKON - executive recruitment firm committed to helping people with disabilities find jobs: (201) 568-7750 (201) 568-5830 (fax) www.riskon.com

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Hiring Disabled Employees State Vocational Rehabilitation Officeshttp://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/Programs/EROD/org_list.cfm?category_ID=SVR Think Beyond the Label http://www.thinkbeyondthelabel.com/

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Hiring Disabled Employees

Resources For more questions regarding the legalities, hiring and employment of people with disabilities, here is a list of additional readings.

Disability.gov- job seeking website available for both employers and employees. Information is available on both a state and federal level. https://www.disability.gov/employment#map

Job Accommodation Network (JAN) - provides a variety of resources for employers with employees with disabilities and those seeking to hire employees with disabilities: (800) 526-7234 or (304) 293-7184 www.jan.wvu.edu

IRS- provides a complete listing and description of the federal tax benefits for businesses who have employees with disabilites. http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Tax-Benefits-forBusinesses-Who-Have-Employees-with-Disabilities

Huffington Post- a news article by in the Huffington Post Business section highlighting Walgreens success and touching on how disabled workers can make businesses more efficient http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/26/workers-with-disabilities_n_1707421.html

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission- many links to information regarding the employment of people with disabilities. http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc

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America's Disabled  

A handbook for hiring disabled employees

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