Having a son with autism and an adult sibling with special needs, I worry about their futures. One of my biggest concerns is if Norrin will be able to find employment. Recently, the EEOC finalized a ruling that will set a hiring quota for all federal agencies in an effort to increase disability employment rates.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission) is issuing its final rule to amend the regulations that require federal agencies to engage in affirmative action for individuals with disabilities. These changes clarify the obligations that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 imposes on federal agencies, as employers, that are over and above the obligation not to discriminate on the basis of disability. The regulation does not apply to the private sector or to state or local governments.
Under the plan, 12 percent of each entity’s workforce should be people with disabilities and 2 percent should be those with “targeted” conditions including intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Increasing employment rates for individuals with disabilities is a national priority for the federal government,” said EEOC Chair Jenny Yang. “These new regulations provide concrete steps and accountability mechanisms to promote employment and advancement opportunities for people with disabilities across the government.”
Note: The following was written in October (2016) but was never published.
October is Disability Employment Awareness Month.
The unemployment rate for persons with a disability is rising.
And the 2015 disability benefits is barely enough to keep a beneficiary above 2014 poverty levels.
This isn’t the kind of statistic I want to read about having a 10-year-old kid with autism. I guess in the grand scheme of things, 16 isn’t the worst rank. But still, it doesn’t make me feel better. I want to believe that one day Norrin will be independent, have a job and be able to contribute to society. But based on these numbers, it almost seems like a fantasy.
Related: Planning Our Financial Future
Not only do I have a kid with a disability to worry about, I also have a 30-year-old sister with special needs.
My sister has an intellectual disability and some emotional issues. I usually don’t write about my sister because I want to respect her (and our family’s privacy).
For the last eight years my sister has worked at IKEA. She got the job through a YAI program. She travels to work to and from (about an hour) by subway. She’s been a good employee.
My sister is one of two employees with special needs. (Her coworker got the job from the same program as my sister.) Their jobs were being restructured and management offered two options. One of those options was for a cashier position – something my sister could not handle.
My sister was suspended for a week without pay, a few weeks after this discussion.
Why? A coworker had seen her taking a piece of candy. My sister admitted to taking the candy the moment she was approached by management. That’s when she was sent home for a week without pay.
My sister was devastated and ashamed.
When she reported back to work, she was terminated for theft. IKEA has a no tolerance policy.
I used to work in retail – as a sales person and as a manager. And I now work for a human resources attorney in a corporate legal department. I get it.
But it’s still crappy of IKEA to terminate a special needs employee for a literally taking a piece of candy. My sister learned her lesson for being suspended for a week. To be fired over a piece of candy is harsh.
On the bright side, IKEA said she could still list them as a reference. But now what? I worry whether or not she’ll be able to find employment.
My sister leads a pretty sheltered life. Part of her routine was going to work. It gave her a purpose, it was a way of socialization. It helped her feel independent.
These last few weeks have brought up so many conversations between me and mother. Conversations neither one of us are ready to have. But it has to be done. I have to think about the future for all of us.
And that my friends, is a post for another day…
Are you a business owner? You can help with Disability Employment.
Like anyone else, people with disabilities need experience. There are so many things they can do. This is not a population to be underestimated.
The personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2016’s Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities.