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Archive for November, 2014

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (November 21, 2014)

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

White House Releases Video PSA on How the Affordable Care Act Helps People with Disabilities

The video public service announcement “How the Affordable Care Act Helps People with Disabilities,” posted by the White House on YouTube on November 10, explains how the Affordable Care Act ensures that individuals with disabilities can no longer be denied health coverage because of health history. Presented in American Sign Language, the PSA also has an English soundtrack that starts about 12 seconds into the video.

The Disability Network Blog Features Assistant Secretary Martinez

Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, was profiled on November 17 on the blog of The Disability Network (TDN), a Canadian media outlet focused on disability issues. The blog highlighted some of the innovative programs that the Office of Disability Employment Policy initiated under Martinez’s leadership, including Add Us In and the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program.

“Who I Am” Public Service Announcement Hits the Airwaves

The new “Who I Am” PSA, created by the Campaign for Disability Employment, features nine real people with disabilities. The PSA demonstrates that, rather than be defined by disability, these individuals are the sum of their many life roles, which includes working in jobs they love. “Who I Am” has been distributed to more than 800 English and Spanish television stations nationwide. If you see the PSA on TV, be sure to tweet about it using the hashtag #WhoIAmPSA. If you would like to see the PSA on your local TV station, send an email to to receive information and a template letter to mail to the station.

Fifteen in FY2015: ODEP Launches Expanded Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program

The Office of Disability Employment Policy has expanded direct and virtual technical assistance, training, ongoing mentoring, and policy development support to fifteen core states as part of the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP). The fifteen FY2015 EFSLMP core states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Utah. Since its inception in FY2012, the EFSLMP has provided intensive onsite and virtual technical assistance to state governments in the areas of capacity building in the dissemination of customized employment and other effective practices that lead to integrated employment as the priority outcome of services to individuals with significant disabilities; provider transformation strategies; approaches to successful employer engagement; and school-to-work transition models. In addition to the EFSLMP technical assistance offerings to its core states, ODEP will continue to host its virtual National Employment First Community of Practice. Webinars are held monthly, and membership is open to disability policy stakeholders in all fifty states. Any individual interested in participating in the Community of Practice can register for ODEP’s EFSLMP mailing list to receive updates on upcoming training events, technical assistance offerings, and policy resources.

Thanksgiving Wishes

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the ODEP News Brief will not be published next Friday, November 28. Happy Thanksgiving, and we’ll see you in December!

Department of Justice Releases Resource Guide to Help Law Enforcement Strengthen Relationships with Communities (November 21, 2014)

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) today announced the release of a resource guide intended to help law enforcement officers build stronger community-police relations. The Resource Guide for Enhancing Community Relationships and Protecting Privacy and Constitutional Rights is a collaboration between BJA and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office).

“The Justice Department encourages law enforcement officials, in every jurisdiction, to work with the communities they serve to minimize needless confrontation,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “It is vital to engage in planning and preparation, from evaluating protocols and training to choosing the appropriate equipment and uniforms. This is the hard work that is necessary to preserve the peace and maintain the public trust at all times—particularly in moments of heightened community tension.”

“The role of law enforcement is not only to enforce the law, but to preserve peace, minimize harm, and sustain community trust,” said BJA Director Denise O’Donnell. “The resources available through this guide will help police departments and sheriffs’ offices maintain order and build effective police-community relationships, while promoting the rights and protecting the civil liberties of the citizens they serve.”

For many years, BJA and the COPS Office have developed guides, publications, webinars, checklists and tools for law enforcement agencies on community policing, building community trust, diversity training, privacy protections, and safeguarding first amendment rights. Building strong police-community relations requires a sustained effort over time, yet maintaining these relationships is exceedingly difficult during and in the aftermath of a high-profile incident or civil unrest. Professional law enforcement departments and effective operations require training and ongoing support from all partners. This guide helps law enforcement agencies locate these resources in one place, including in-person and online training opportunities, publications, reports, podcasts, and websites.

“Law enforcement officers are stewards of the peace and protectors of the people, but above all else, they are custodians of the public trust,” said COPS Office Director Ron Davis. “As a former police chief, I am proud of the work we are doing at the Department of Justice to help America’s public safety professionals carry out this sacred duty.”

The Resource Guide is available at

The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has six components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at

The COPS Office, headed by Director Ronald L. Davis, is the federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, the COPS Office has awarded over $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of approximately 125,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training, and technical assistance. For additional information about the COPS Office, please visit

Office of Disability Employment Policy’s “Business Sense”: Time for a TechCheck: Ensuring Your Workplace is Technology Accessible (November 17, 2014)

Monday, November 17th, 2014

If you were asked to create a list of the technology you use to do your job every day, what would be on it? Your smart phone, perhaps? A computer and printer? Various websites and online applications? It’s no secret that today’s business workforce is powered by a range of information and communications technology (ICT). It’s a central driver of productivity in businesses both large and small.

Now imagine your workday without the ability to access or operate all that technology. It’s a reality faced by many people with disabilities whose opportunities to get hired and excel on the job are limited by inaccessible ICT. So as part of their commitment to an inclusive — and productive — workplace, more and more businesses are approaching technology with an accessibility mindset.

While many employers know they should ensure their workplace technology is accessible to all, not all know how to get started. That’s where the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) comes in. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, PEAT is a multifaceted initiative to advance the employment of people with disabilities with businesses of all sizes through accessible technology.

To help employers get started, PEAT’s educational website,, includes a step-by-step action guide for employers. Also featured is TechCheck, an interactive tool to help employers assess the accessibility of their technology and find resources to help make improvements.

It’s always a good time for a TechCheck. By plugging into PEAT, employers of all sizes can learn the business incentives for adopting inclusive ICT practices and chart their pathway to a more accessible — and productive — workplace.

For additional news and resources, sign up for ODEP’s e-mail updates. Go to

FTA: New Guidance to Help Transportation Providers Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (November 12, 2014)

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

The Federal Transit Administration is proposing guidance in the form of seven additional circular chapters to help transportation providers meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. These proposed chapters include Chapter 3 (Transportation Facilities), Chapter 6 (Fixed Route Service), Chapter 7 (Demand Responsive Service), Chapter 9 (ADA Paratransit Eligibility), Chapter 10 (Passenger Vessels), Chapter 11 (Other Modes), and Chapter 12 (Oversight, Complaints, and Monitoring).

Along with the previously proposed chapters, these chapters are proposed to be part of a series of 12 chapters that will compose a complete ADA circular. FTA published a notice in the Federal Register on November 12, 2014, seeking public comment on these proposed circular chapters. We encourage you to review the proposed chapters and provide your comments. The chapters, along with the Federal Register notice with instructions on submitting comments, may be found here:

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (November 15, 2014)

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

White House Monthly Disability Community Call – November 19, 2:00-3:00 PM EST

The White House Disability Outreach team will be holding a conference call on Wednesday, November 19, 2:00-3:00 PM EST. The call will feature Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary in the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education. This call is off the record and is not for press purposes. You must pre-register for this call. Live captioning will be available. Please use ID # 2485493 in order to access live captioning, at the appropriate time.

Kansas City Businesses Welcome Assistant Secretary Martinez

More than 50 small and large federal contractors gathered in Kansas City, Missouri on November 12 to hear Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez discuss strategies for recruiting, hiring and advancing employees with disabilities. Martinez headlined the special event, which was jointly sponsored by the Kansas City Industry Liaison Group and the Business Leadership Network of Greater Kansas City.

Laying the Path for Career Success – ODEP Blog

November is National Career Development Month, and Maria Town, policy advisor in the Office of Disability Employment Policy, posted a November 13 blog, “Laying the Path for Career Success,” about the importance of Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs) in helping students explore the possibilities for life after high school. In the blog, Town tells the story of Carla, a recent high school graduate who used her ILP throughout her school career to assess her interests, guide her coursework, and participate in work-based learning experiences. “Through her ILP, Carla’s teachers helped her and her parents discover her interests, set goals and identify what she needs to do to achieve them, whether with the help of others or on her own,” explained Town.

Need Health Coverage? The Health Insurance Marketplace Is the Place for You – Open Enrollment Period Is November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015

Having trouble finding health insurance that fits your needs and your budget? Look no further than the Health Insurance Marketplace. All plans in the Marketplace cover essential health benefits, pre-¬‐existing conditions, and more. To find the latest, most accurate, information about the Marketplace visit At this website, you can learn how the Marketplace works, who can apply for insurance, how to get insurance, how to lower your costs, and more. When you’re ready to apply and enroll in a health plan, is the place for that, too! No matter where you live, you may be able to buy insurance from private health plans that cover a comprehensive set of benefits, including doctor visits, hospital stays, preventive care, and prescriptions. And plans in the Marketplace must treat you fairly—they can’t deny you coverage because of a pre-¬‐existing condition. With a single application, you’ll also find out if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or savings you can use right away to lower your health insurance premiums.

Marketplace open enrollment period begins November 15, 2014. Enroll by December 15, 2014, for coverage effective January 1, 2015. Open enrollment ends February 15, 2015. is your best source of information about the Marketplace. You can read important information, print checklists, and watch videos to help you apply and enroll. For help or more information, visit or call the Marketplace Call Center toll-¬‐free at 1-800-318-2596, to speak with a trained customer service representative. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. Tell the customer service representative if you need help in a language other than English. You can also visit to find help in your area.

EEOC and Chicago-Area Marshmallow Maker Reach Accord in Disability Suit: Doumak Agrees to Modify Leave Policies at Manufacturing Facilities (Press Release: November 4, 2014)

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

CHICAGO – Doumak, Inc., a longtime Chicago-area marshmallow manufacturer, has agreed to change its leave policies to resolve a disability discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

In its complaint, the EEOC alleged that the company had capped the duration of leaves of absence at its Elk Grove Village and Bensenville, Ill., manufacturing facilities, without making appropriate exceptions for people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities. This can include making exceptions to leave policies to allow an individual with a disability to successfully return to work and perform his or her job. More information about leave as a reasonable accommodation is available in question-and-answer format on the EEOC’s website.

The EEOC filed suit under the ADA on Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division (EEOC v. Doumak, Inc., Civil Action No. 14-cv-7492) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Teamsters Local 703 was also joined as a party to the action for relief purposes, since the leave policies in question were codified in collective bargaining agreements between Doumak and the union.

Doumak and the union agreed to resolve the suit without further litigation, and a consent decree was entered on Nov. 4 by U.S. District Judge Manish Shah. Under the decree, Doumak and the Union will not enforce the provisions of their collective bargaining agreements in any manner that would deny a qualified individual with a disability additional leave when it is needed as a reasonable accommodation. Doumak will also negotiate with the union to amend the relevant provisions of the collective bargaining agreements. The company will pay a total of $85,000 to five individuals who the EEOC said were affected by the prior policies, and it will conduct training about the ADA for current employees.

“Federal law requires employers to be reasonable and flexible in applying their workplace policies to people with disabilities,” said John Hendrickson, the EEOC regional attorney in Chicago. “We are pleased that Doumak and the union will be taking steps that will enable more individuals with disabilities to continue to earn a living. Ultimately, that benefits everybody.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

According to Doumak’s website, the company’s founder, Alex Doumakes, “invented and patented the extrusion process of manufacturing marshmallows,” and the company has been manufacturing a range of marshmallow products in the Chicago area since 1961.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at

Randall Ford to Pay $128,750 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit: Company Failed to Accommodate Manager and Then Fired Him Due to Back Surgery, Agency Charged (Press Release: November 4, 2014)

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Car dealership Randall Ford in Fort Smith, Ark., will pay $128,750 as part of the settlement of a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit challenged Randall Ford’s treatment of a used-car manager when the company refused to accommodate his disability following surgery on his spine. Among other things, the manager had asked permission to make greater use of a cart that he and other employees already used from time to time. Instead of making such accommodations, Randall Ford fired the manager a few days later.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is unlawful to deny a qualified individual with a disability a reasonable accommodation, and it is also unlawful to fire such a person because he needs an accommodation. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC. v. Randall Ford, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:13-CV-02206) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The former employee joined in the EEOC’s suit and was represented by Joe D. Byars of Fort Smith.

In addition to requiring the company to pay $128,750 in damages and back pay to the former manager, the consent decree resolving the case mandates that Randall Ford revise its ADA policy to provide a clear avenue for employees to request a reasonable accommodation. Additionally, Randall Ford will distribute its revised policy to all employees, post notice of this resolution, and provide disability training to all of its employees.

“The EEOC is committed to enforcing the laws against disability discrimination on the job,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi. “Ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities to succeed in the workplace is central to the ADA and is a priority for the EEOC.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

EEOC Sues Saginaw Restaurant for Pregnancy Discrimination: Crooked Creek Bar & Grille Refused to Hire Applicant Because She Was Expecting, Federal Agency Charges (Press Release: November 4, 2014)

Monday, November 10th, 2014

DETROIT – Crooked Creek Investment Company, doing business as Crooked Creek & Creekside Bar & Grille in Saginaw, Mich., violated federal law when it refused to hire an applicant as a food server because she was pregnant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the job seeker had prior experience working in a restaurant. She applied for a vacant food server position in February 2013. Her first interview with Crooked Creek went well and she was asked to return for a second interview. When she revealed her pregnancy during the second interview, however, Crooked Creek refused to consider her further for the job, the EEOC said.

Refusing to consider a woman for a job because she is pregnant violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit against Crooked Creek in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, (EEOC v. Crooked Creek Investment Co., d/b/a Crooked Creek & Creekside Bar & Grille, Case No. 2:14-cv-14239) after first attempting to settle the matter through its pre-litigation conciliation process. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the applicant along with injunctive relief intended to prevent further instances of pregnancy discrimination.

“Women should not be forced to remove themselves from the labor market simply because they are pregnant,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Omar Weaver. “The EEOC will vigorously enforce a pregnant woman’s right to be fairly considered for a job.”

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (November 10, 2014)

Monday, November 10th, 2014

For more information, go to

Assistant Secretary Martinez Speaks to Work Without Limits Conference as NDEAM Comes to a Close

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez was in Massachusetts on October 30, where she spoke at the 2nd annual Work Without Limits conference, which convened 350 employers, service providers, people with disabilities and family members. Work Without Limits is a network of employers and others committed to closing the employment gap between people with and without disabilities in Massachusetts. The event also marked the end of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is celebrated every October. “Although NDEAM is technically over, I encourage employers and workers across the country to continue to work towards more inclusive workplaces every month, and every day of the year,” said Martinez.

Out & Equal Workplace Summit Welcomes Assistant Secretary Martinez

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez was in San Francisco on November 5 to take part in the 16th Annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit — an event focused on achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace equality. Martinez’s remarks explored early collaborations between the LGBT and disability rights communities, and recent efforts by DOL and the entire administration to further civil rights for both.

Time for a TechCheck: Join ODEP’s PEAT for a Webinar — November 10, 2:00-3:00 PM EST

On November 10, the ODEP-funded Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) will be hosting a webinar titled “Time for a TechCheck — Assessing the Accessibility of Your Workplace Technology” from 2:00-3:00 PM EST. The online event will feature PEAT’s Jim Tobias, who will show employers how to take stock of their accessible workplace technology policies, determine the goals they should reach, and plot the steps they can take to reach them. The webinar will also include an overview of TechCheck, a free, interactive tool that helps organizations evaluate their accessible technology efforts and find resources to develop them further.

ODEP’s ePolicyWorks Nominated for Technology Award

ePolicyWorks, a web-based approach to policymaking developed by the Office of Disability Employment Policy that engages citizens and stakeholders in new and innovative ways, has been nominated for the prestigious FedScoop 50 Award. The Awards honor exceptional leadership and champions in the federal technology workspace. ePolicyWorks was nominated for Tech Program of the Year. In addition, ODEP’s Michael Reardon, who heads up the initiative, was nominated under the Federal Leadership category. ePolicyWorks advances the conversation about employment and disability by providing cutting-edge, accessible tools to facilitate collaboration, promote action, inform decisions and produce results. Over the last year, ePolicyWorks has expanded to harness even more new tools and innovations, and its latest phase includes additional issue-based collaborative workspaces focused on technology and transportation; the use of accessible crowdsourcing tools for idea generation and stakeholder input; and public-private partnerships to improve the accessibility of social media content and platforms.

Job Accommodation Network Issues Its Quarterly E-News

The JAN E-News is a quarterly online newsletter that keeps subscribers informed about low-cost and innovative accommodation approaches; the latest trends in assistive technologies; announcements of upcoming JAN presentations, media events, trainings, and webcasts; and legislative and policy updates promoting the employment success of people with disabilities. Topics this quarter include making pre-employment testing accessible, requests for medical documentation and the ADA, accommodating employees with keratoconus, and newly released JAN resources. To subscribe to the E-news, send an email to When subscribing, please include the email address at which you want to receive the newsletter.

LEAD Center Publishes Policy Update — Employment, Health Care and Disability

The LEAD Center’s Policy Update — Employment, Health Care and Disability provides policymakers, disability service professionals, individuals with disabilities and their families with information about relevant policy developments regarding Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and related topics, with a focus on improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The latest update features stories on proposed HUD regulations to expand supported housing for people with disabilities, a new Senate HELP Committee report on barriers to economic self-sufficiency, a review of recent state transitions plans, and much more. Each monthly update is published to the Resource Center found on the LEAD Center website. Subscribers who sign up to receive LEAD Center news and information will receive notice of each newly published update.

U.S. Civil Rights Commission: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to Hold Briefing in Orlando, Florida on Racial Disparities in Stand Your Ground Laws

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will convene a national panel of experts in Orlando, Florida to examine whether there are racial disparities in the application or enforcement of Stand Your Ground laws.

The briefing will take place on October 17, 2014, Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm in the Grand Ballroom of the Rosen Plaza Hotel, 9700 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819. The briefing is open to the public without registration. Media who are planning to attend with cameras and equipment must contact the Commission as soon as possible at to arrange for adequate space and technical needs.

Stand Your Ground laws have been controversial particularly since the Trayvon Martin case. These laws, which in some form have gained passage in 33 states, justify the use of deadly force and eliminate the duty to retreat if an individual reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to him- or herself. Of concern to the Commission is whether there is possible racial bias in the assertion, investigation and/or enforcement of justifiable homicide laws in states with Stand Your Ground provisions. Experts at the briefing will present testimony on the personal impact of the laws, findings from their research regarding the racial dimensions of justifiable homicides, and will elaborate upon actions being advanced by advocacy groups to alleviate concerns related to Stand Your Ground laws.

Experts who are scheduled to appear are:

 Ahmad Nabil Abuznaid, Attorney – Dream Defenders
 Elizabeth Burke, Managing Attorney, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
 Arkadi Gerney, Senior Fellow – Center for American Progress
 David A. Harris, Professor of Law – University of Pittsburgh School of Law
 William Krouse – Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress
 David LaBahn, President – Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
 John Lott, President – Crime Prevention Research Center
 Lucia McBath, Mother of Jordan Davis
 Representative Harold Mitchell, Jr., South Carolina House of Representatives
 John Roman, The Urban Institute
 Katheryn Russell-Brown, Professor of Law, University of Florida School of Law
 Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford, South Carolina House of Representatives
 Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow – CATO Institute
 Senator Christopher L. Smith, Florida Senate
 Professor Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., Harvard Law School

Staff Director Marlene Sallo stated, “The Commission is fulfilling an important obligation by investigating and reporting on the use of Stand Your Ground laws in order to ensure that such laws are not violating the civil rights of Americans.”

Deaf or hearing-impaired persons who will attend the meeting and require the services of a sign language interpreter should contact Pam Dunston at (202) 376-8105 at least seven business days prior to the briefing.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan agency charged with advising the President and Congress on civil rights matters and issuing a federal civil rights enforcement report. For information about Commission’s reports and meetings, visit