Monday, December 22, 2014

Traveling mercies: Part of the law?

Last Friday, I spent part of the day listening to testimony from a number of witnesses about changes to the Americans With Disabilities Act -- the law enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice that is supposed to prevent discrimination against the disabled at the workplace. The session was one of four "listening" town-hall meetings across the nation.

Traveling mercies: Part of the law?

Last Friday, I spent part of the day listening to testimony from a number of witnesses about changes to the Americans With Disabilities Act -- the law enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice that is supposed to prevent discrimination against the disabled at the workplace. The session was one of four "listening" town-hall meetings across the nation.  

One of the speakers was Donald Ellison, an advocate for the disabled, who traveled all the way from Michigan to testify before the panel, which included EEOC acting chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. Ellison, who has cerebral palsy along with all sorts of other medical issues, urged the panel to remember that accommodation for the disabled shouldn't just start inside the office door.

He pointed out that many disabled people can't drive and have to rely on public transportation. Buses can be late, or full, or not equipped with the proper lifts to handle disabled passengers. Schedules may be infrequent and may not completely jibe with company start times. Obviously, employers shouldn't have to experience an "undue hardship," but, he said, they need to explicitly understand that flexibility over start and end times may be an important and necessary accommodation for someone who would otherwise perform excellently on the job.

"Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to employment," Ellison said.

More on this topic tomorrow...

About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
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