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Honoring Our Veterans Beyond Veteran's Day

Though EEOC does not enforce any statutes specifically dealing with veterans, some issues faced by our veteran’s do fall within EEOC’s purview

Veteran’s Day has been celebrated although some communities continue their celebrations for a bit longer. In Louisville and Lexington there are events for two weeks called weeks of valor. Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not enforce any statutes specifically dealing with veterans, some issues faced by our veteran’s do fall within EEOC’s purview.

Many of the veterans returning to the workforce have disabilities. Some of those disabilities are apparent while others are not. In my experience, quite a few of the individuals I interviewed about their disabilities were reluctant to disclose their conditions to their employers due to the stigma attached to them. PTSD is one of the disabilities affecting veterans. And, there seems to be a stigma attached to PTSD.

I recently spoke to a representative from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) about an employee with PTSD who was a veteran. This employee stated he was not sure what triggered his PTSD. The representative from JAN suggested that the employee keep a journal of his episodes and then perhaps he would be able to ascertain what the triggers had been. He also offered to speak directly with the employee about his condition stating that he too was a veteran with PTSD. I felt these suggestions were great and very helpful for the employee and the employer. Additionally, it’s a free service. JAN’s website is askjan.org.

Providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities is an affirmative action employers are to take to known disabilities. If an employee begins to have performance-related issues at work, the employer should not approach the employee and ask if he/she has a disability and needs an accommodation. On the other hand, the employer may ask the employee if there is anything that can be done to assist the employee to be better able to perform the essential functions of his/her job. This discussion could then lead into the interactive accommodation process. Having a dialogue with the employee is an integral part of the process.

EEOC is carefully reviewing charges concerning the interactive accommodation process to make sure that there have been discussions between the employee and employer. So, reviewing your interactive accommodation process is something you may want to consider. Make sure the policy is readily available and has been disseminated to all employees. Be sure to train your employees, including management employees about the policy and especially your first-line supervisors. You may want to designate a person to handle reasonable accommodation requests in order to assure that these requests are being handled in a consistent manner.

Let’s make sure that our veterans know that we appreciate them and what they have done. And, let’s not limit it to only one day.

For more information about the interactive accommodation process, feel free to reach out to me at eeoadvantage@gmail.com or (502) 553-7648.

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