Moving Forward, 25th ADA Anniversary Edition

Photo 57 (2)It’s been 25 years since the signing of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990! I wrote about my own memories and the significance of that day in my very first blog after becoming a Navigator titled Moving Forward.

The timing of that blog and the creation of Workforce Solution’s first 3 member Navigator team coincided with the 23rd anniversary date.

Today, I have noticed an admirable form of outreach and inclusion in the way employers are opening up opportunities to persons with disabilities. I’d like to highlight one statement that I see more and more often within job descriptions. Naturally I am inclined to notice it while reviewing job descriptions specifically through Work In Texas.com.

This statement is known by several names including Equal Opportunity (EO), Affirmative Action and the Non-discrimination Statement.

The United States Equal Opportunity Commission issued a memorandum on April 16, 2013, which offers an example of an EO statement, and instructions to both jobseekers and employees who feel that they may be victims of discrimination or injustice of any kind. Typically The EO statement closely resembles the information given within the following paragraph…

This company is an Equal Opportunity Employer that does not engage in discrimination against or harassment of any person employed or seeking employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, status as a protected veteran or other characteristics protected by law.

While utilizing the expertise of JAN (Job Accommodation Network), as a resource, I learned that employers are required to document EO statements according to such laws as the Rehabilitation Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Civil Rights Act. Employers are required to post an EO statement for applicants to see; and in some cases to include this information in job functions, or in applications.

Fortunately, there is no one statement, style or format deemed the only style for employers. So, as an employer, you’re free to create your own! For this, I applaud you for thinking and composing statements that are truly outside of the box and inclusive! What a wonderful way to let everyone know that your company is open to the concept of the diversity, inclusion and tolerance regardless of ability.

Additionally, the irony of poorly written job descriptions may actually create the opposite result intended by the EO statement. If you need additional assistance composing job descriptions, visit Employer Assistance and Resource Network (Ask Earn). It can provide a job description checklist to ensure your information is inclusive and not inadvertently discriminating towards applicants.

On the 25th Anniversary of the signing of ADA, take pride in celebrating diversity! Take pride in the fact that you, (the employer) are a big part of that powerful change as we all continue moving forward.

For more information regarding the 25th Anniversary visit the ADA Anniversary Toolkit!

Frieda Carmouche is a member of the Regional Navigator team specializing in training, educating and assisting employers, and career center staff throughout the Gulf Coast with community resources, outreach events and technical support in assisting job seekers with disabilities. A native Houstonian with a love of training and development, Frieda has been employed by Workforce Solutions for over 16 years.