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25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the signing of the ADA, a civil rights law that strengthens the inclusion of people with disabilities at work, school, or other community settings. According to a recent article by the CDC, “an estimated 37 million to 57 million people are living with a disability in the United States, and many people will experience a disability at some time during the course of their life. Enacted on July 26, 1990, the goals of the ADA are to promote equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities.”

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The stimulus for the ADA began with the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s.  Advocates for the disabled watched as the federal government became involved with the protection of racial minorities, and began to seek protection for their community as well.  The beginning steps of the ADA, as we know it today, were laid by the passage of section 504, of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which prohibited discrimination against someone with a disability who received public assistance. However, section 504 did not cover discrimination by employers or the private sector. In April 1988, a draft bill prepared by the National Council on Disability was introduced as the first version of the ADA to the 100th Congress, with the main purpose of the bill being to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and to provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities.   The bill, as most usually encounter, went through several revisions before receiving a Senate vote of 76 to 8 on September 7, 1989. The bill went on to the House, and on January 23, 1990, the 101st Congress passed the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990”, which consists of five titles:  Title I – Employment, Title II – Public Services, Title III – Public Accommodations, Title IV – Telecommunications, and Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, with the effective date for the employment provisions in Title I of the ADA taking place on July 26, 1992.

Through the ADA we have come to see that people with disabilities are no longer “out of sight, out of mind” as society may have once positioned them to be. Instead, we are shown that they want to and are capable of working, and that they want to and are able to be members of society and their communities. Business owners are affected both on the employment side and provider side of the ADA, in order to be in compliance.  Business owners must be proactive and accommodate their customer’s needs equally, by actively seeking and implementing solutions that are easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense, for their customers with disabilities. The most recent updates to ADA, for which business owners may need to make alterations for their customers, include effective communication, mobility devices, service animals, and entry barriers. The ADA doesn’t just affect businesses in terms of assisting customers, but also when it comes to employment.  Businesses with 15 or more employees are forbidden from discrimination against “qualified individuals (an individual, who with or without reasonable accommodation can perform the essential functions of the job in question) with disabilities” in hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and all other aspects of employment and employment related activities, such as fringe benefits. (Please note that PEO’s use a co-employment model, and therefore businesses with fewer than 15 employees who are contracted as a larger pool of employees within a PEO, may or may not be viewed as having more than 15 employees and subject to the guidelines of the ADA, depending on the unique circumstances of their contract with the PEO. In addition, individual states may also have a unique set of laws regarding disabilities that exist in addition to the federal ADA that may supersede federal guidelines, to which employers may be subject.) Employers are also required to make a reasonable effort to accommodate the applicant or employee, as long as it does not impose undue hardship on the business, so that otherwise qualified applicants and/or employees with disabilities can work and compete with their peers. However, employees with disabilities may be disciplined or dismissed for incompetence or acts of misconduct in the same manner as other employees, regardless of whether they have disabilities.

As with any legal matter, there are strict guidelines, but ultimate decisions regarding the ADA are in fact legal matters and decided within the courts.  Each business, individual, and circumstance is unique, and while the ADA law is intact all matters regarding it are in fact due to interpretation by legal representation.  HR Strategies continually provides our clients with the information necessary to handle any matters arising from and with the Americans with Disabilities Act, based upon legal counsel provided to us. We are hopeful that this has given you some background and insight into exactly what the ADA can mean to all of us.

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HR Strategies Regulatory Compliance

What:

It seems as though every year the Federal and State governments are adding more acts, mandates, and laws to the business of employment. As a small to mid-sized business, you probably don’t have the time to keep up with the names of all of the new ones, let alone how they can impact you as an employer. Large corporations have complete in-house HR departments and legal departments that work at not only keeping up with the new regulations, but also keeping their corporations in compliance. Are you that lucky? Or are you risking the chance of fines and work interruption?

How:

HR Strategies focuses on keeping you compliant by working as your off-site HR department, with the back-up of legal counsel from one of our strategic partners, Jackson Lewis, which is one of the largest law firms specializing in workplace law. HR Strategies team can help you reduce your risk and vulnerabilities to Federal, State, Local and Professional Regulatory changes. We maintain all of your employment related records in safe, professional, and government regulated ways.

Benefit:

We keep pace with changing governmental requirements that affect your business and help you stay compliant. By relieving your stress of whether or not you are in compliance, we give you the ability to focus on the aspects of your company for which you went into business, while we handle the behind the scenes issue of compliance.

See All HR Solutions Here

HR Strategies Regulatory Compliance Case Study

HR Strategies Assists in OSHA Compliance and Reduction of Penalties

Challenges:

HR Strategies provides aid and counsel on a variety of government regulatory compliance issues. One of the biggest issues which HR Strategies aids client owners in is OSHA compliance. Recently, a client owner received an “on site” visit from two OSHA inspectors regarding a complaint reported to their office.  Upon completion of the “on site” inspection, which included one-on-one interviews with selected personnel, a meeting was conducted to review the findings and closing remarks with the client. It became apparent the client was in violation of a number of serious OSHA standards; and that a citation and penalties would be forth coming.

Solution:

HR Strategies was notified immediately by the client at the time of the “on site” visit, and was able to meet with the inspectors and client, and was also able to attend the review meeting on the findings and closing remarks. Upon receipt of the citation letter, HR Strategies took a pro-active approach to address the citations and provide the necessary training and documentation in a timely manner in order to potentially reduce the penalties that were identified. HR Strategies was able to present the “corrective action” items in an informal conference with the OSHA area director.

Results:

The client was very appreciative of the timely and thorough action taken by HR Strategies, including the back-up of having a professional HR team present at meetings with them, and the training provided to allow them to be in compliance going forward. The meeting was favorable, resulting in the reduction of the penalties by half the original amount.

See All HR Strategies Case Studies Here

HR Strategies HR Consulting

What:

As an employer you rely on your employees to get the job done, and to get it done well in an efficient and profitable manner. Just as you rely on them, they rely on you to manage them well, and to meet their needs. The relationship between employer and employee is a complex one, with both needing things from the other. On top of that an employer must make sure that they are meeting government guidelines on employment practices. These are just a few of the many complex issues that are a part of Human Resources. When your human resource needs are handled accurately and professionally you are able to once again focus on profitability. HR Strategies is here to help you do just that with our Human Resource Administration Solutions.

How:

Employment doesn’t just mean the hiring, paying, and perhaps the eventual termination of an employee. Employment means everything in the life cycle of an employee with your company. HR Strategies human resources department is here to assist with all of the complications and paperwork that go along with that lifecycle. We are here to aide you in writing help wanted ads and job descriptions; drug screening and verifications; new hire candidate assessment tools; new hire paperwork, including I-9 compliance; customized employee handbooks; employee policies and procedures; Federal and State required postings; human resource, supervisor, and compliance training; EEOC claims; Employment Practices Liability Insurance; Employee Assistance Program; compliance with IRS, INS, ADA, EEOC, FMLA, FLSA, DOT, COBRA, Title VII, etc.; discipline and termination counseling; investigation of employee/employer and employment complaints; and can help review and audit exiting procedures; just to name a few of our services involving human resources. We act as your partner in the human resource of your business.

Benefit:

By taking the burden of human resources administration off of you, we free your time from paperwork and allow you the time to focus on growing your company. When it comes to human resources we understand that the first word is “human”, thus individual. Just as each of our clients is unique in their industries, and business practices, we understand that your workforce is as well. We are here to help you provide for those individuals employment needs, while at the same time protecting your individual employer needs. With HR Strategies your needs are met, and you are free to grow your company to its full potential.

See all HR Solutions Here

ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act

The stimulus for the ADA began with the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s.  Advocates for the disabled watched as the federal government became involved with the protection of racial minorities, and began to seek protection for their community as well.  The beginning steps of the ADA, as we know it today, were laid by the passage of section 504, of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which prohibited discrimination against someone with a disability who received public assistance. However, section 504 did not cover discrimination by employers or the private sector. In April 1988, a draft bill prepared by the National Council on Disability was introduced as the first version of the ADA to the 100th Congress, with the main purpose of the bill being to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and to provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities.   The bill, as most usually encounter, went through several revisions before receiving a Senate vote of 76 to 8 on September 7, 1989. The bill went on to the House, and on January 23, 1990, the 101st Congress passed the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990”, which consists of five titles:  Title I – Employment, Title II – Public Services, Title III – Public Accommodations, Title IV – Telecommunications, and Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, with the effective date for the employment provisions in Title I of the ADA taking place on July 26, 1992.

Through the ADA we have come to see that people with disabilities are no longer “out of sight, out of mind” as society may have once positioned them to be. Instead, we are shown that they want to and are capable of working, and that they want to and are able to be members of society and their communities. There are an estimated 50 million Americans who have a disability, which can be defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.  Business owners are affected both on the employment side and provider side of the ADA, in order to be in compliance.  Business owners must be proactive and accommodate their customer’s needs equally, by actively seeking and implementing solutions that are easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense, for their customers with disabilities. The most recent updates to ADA, for which business owners may need to make alterations for their customers, include effective communication, mobility devices, service animals, and entry barriers. The ADA doesn’t just affect businesses in terms of assisting customers, but also when it comes to employment.  Businesses with 15 or more employees are forbidden from discrimination against “qualified individuals (an individual, who with or without reasonable accommodation can perform the essential functions of the job in question) with disabilities” in hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and all other aspects of employment and employment related activities, such as fringe benefits. (Please note that PEO’s use a co-employment model, and therefore businesses with fewer than 15 employees who are contracted as a larger pool of employees within a PEO, may or may not be viewed as having more than 15 employees and subject to the guidelines of the ADA, depending on the unique circumstances of their contract with the PEO. In addition, individual states may also have a unique set of laws regarding disabilities that exist in addition to the federal ADA that may supersede federal guidelines, to which employers may be subject.) Employers are also required to make a reasonable effort to accommodate the applicant or employee, as long as it does not impose undue hardship on the business, so that otherwise qualified applicants and/or employees with disabilities can work and compete with their peers. However, employees with disabilities may be disciplined or dismissed for incompetence or acts of misconduct in the same manner as other employees, regardless of whether they have disabilities.

As with any legal matter, there are strict guidelines, but ultimate decisions regarding the ADA are in fact legal matters and decided within the courts.  Each business, individual, and circumstance is unique, and while the ADA law is intact all matters regarding it are in fact due to interpretation by legal representation.  HR Strategies continually provides our clients with the information necessary to handle any matters arising from and with the Americans with Disabilities Act, based upon legal counsel provided to us. We are hopeful that this has given you some background and insight into exactly what the ADA can mean to all of us.

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