National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is observed annually in October. This month is an equity effort celebrating the contributions of employees with disabilities. As an important recognition of the differently abled members of our community, the Hartup team is proud to recognize this month and the achievements made for disabled employees around the country. 

What is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)? 

Celebrated every October, this month is here to celebrate our differences and remind all of us of the strengths that lie in them. 

When it first began in 1945, this month was, unfortunately, given a different name. Initially called National Employ The Physically Handicapped Week, this month reflected the time and societal outlook on those with disabilities. 

In 1988, the name was officially changed to NDEAM, and the goal morphed into a stronger one: to educate society and the general public on the issues that employees with disabilities may face in the workplace. 

Additionally, this month is also an opportune time for employers to explore ways to be more inclusive in their hiring practices. If you would like our law team to aid you in this exploration, please schedule a consultation with us here. 

The relevance of NDEAM

Although we have made much progress in the last 50 years, and especially in the last decade, it’s still extremely important to continue to recognize the contributions and achievements of the differently abled. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 19.1 percent of disabled persons were employed in 2021. And though that number was up nearly 2 percent from the previous year, employment for those with disabilities is still far lower than the general population, especially when education level is taken into account. 

The more we work together to build a more equitable and inclusive world, the better we as a society will be. 

Hiring disabled persons in Tennessee

If you are an employer in the state of Tennessee, we strongly encourage you to consider hiring disabled persons. In addition to becoming an equal opportunity employer, the Tennessee Jobs Tax Credit for Hiring Persons with Disabilities is available to all employers in Tennessee. This is a one-time tax credit available when you hire an employee (full or part-time) who is currently receiving state services in relation to their disability. 

As of April, 2022, Tennessee has made great strides in providing disabled persons with better opportunities and working environments. Employers are now legally required to pay all employees, regardless of disability status, a living wage. Prior to April, there were no laws banning employers from paying employees a subminimum wage. 

Discrimination against disabled persons

Unfortunately, laws and recognitions don’t always stop negative behavior. It is still very possible for employers to discriminate against disabled persons, but it’s important to know your rights and understand the path to legal repercussions, should that become necessary. 

If you feel that you have been discriminated against as a disabled person, or know a fellow employee who has been, you may take legal action against your employer. 

Begin with HR

Your first stop should always be your company’s HR office, especially if you work for a larger company where your boss is not also the owner. Register an official complaint with the HR office, giving them a detailed explanation of the discrimination. 

Escalate to the EEOC or an attorney

If you have registered a complaint with your HR office, and satisfactory action has not been taken, it may be time to speak with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, the EEOC is a government institution, and may move slowly or become extremely busy with many complaints. If that is the case, or you worry it will be, it may be a good time to consult an attorney. 

Here at the law offices of Michael Hartup, we are well-versed in complaints of this nature. Consulting with a lawyer is always a good idea, ensuring your complaint is heard properly. 
If you believe that you, a friend, or a coworker have faced discrimination on the basis of disability in the state of Tennessee, we would gladly speak with you. You may schedule a time to speak with us here.