As the Department of Labor (DOL) reminds us, October is the month the Office of Disability Employment Policy encourages employers, employees, educators, unions, and other organizations to focus on disability awareness. National Disability Employment Awareness Month is an awareness campaign that, among other things, provides employers with a reminder that the employment of individuals with disabilities requires Human Resources managers to (i) regularly check for legal updates, (ii) conduct policy reviews, (iii) implement thorough training of personnel, and (iv) consult with competent legal counsel to ensure all of the appropriate controls are in place to ensure compliance with a potentially tricky and elastic legal landscape.
The DOL has published a number of potentially helpful ideas and tools for employers, including publications and training resources. These resources are not tailored to any specific business model, or for any particular size of employer. Because these materials are generic and may not align 100% with a particular employer’s resources and needs, it is helpful to critically assess the DOL materials to determine if you need them and how you might best utilize them in your organization.
The most appropriate reminder in the list of ideas is that employers should take the opportunity of this annual event to review company policy to ensure compliance with the law and consistency with the company’s mission and goals. This is also a great time to convey the importance of compliance with all anti-discrimination policies to all employees, and to conduct training of managerial employees, who are an employer’s first line of defense with regard to handling situations with the potential to develop into a discrimination lawsuit. Employers who take this opportunity to ensure the appropriate safeguards are in place are more likely to be able to diffuse situations before they become problematic. And who wouldn’t want that?