Charitable Donation Advice
Charitable Donation Advice is a recurring education effort. We work hard for our money, and we want it to work hard for the world, too! So, we learn more about our favorite causes so that we make informed charitable donation that make an impact. This was a recent discussion in our Veterans Giving Circle.
Veterans and the Americans With Disabilities Act
Did you know that veterans can be considered disabled by the military but not be protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)?
To understand why, let’s first talk about the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Passed in 1990 and updated in 2008, the ADA prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. The act defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” Major life activities include, but are not limited to, “caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working” as well as the operation of several specified “major bodily functions.”
Qualification for protection under the ADA is considered on a case by case basis. The ADA lays out 4 areas of protection: employment (employers cannot discriminate in hiring and must make reasonable accommodations), public entities (i.e. government agencies must eliminate physical and programmatic barriers that prevent disabled persons from accessing goods and services), public accommodations (i.e. places such as hotel and restaurants must be handicap accessible) and telecommunications (i.e. communication tools for deaf, hard of hearing, and speech impaired must be available). This act is hundreds of pages long with years of case law, so obviously this is mean to be a broad overview!
How can a disabled veteran not qualify for protection under ADA?
Because the Department of Defense and the VA have their own methodology for determining disability and percentage disabled. Unfortunately, I could not find any documentation about how they do this, but I could find their definition of disabled veteran: “an individual who has served on active duty in the armed forces, was honorably discharged, and has a service-connected disability, or is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension because of a public statute administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs or a military department.” It’s good to know that an “employer may not refuse to hire a veteran based on assumptions about a veteran’s ability to do a job in light of the fact that the veteran has a disability rating from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)”, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Disabled veterans only qualify for protection under the ADA if the ADA determines their disability to substantially limit a major life activity. While many disabilities clearly qualify (deafness, blindness, partially or completely missing limbs, mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair, and major depressive disorders), some may not be so obvious. Fortunately, PTSD is covered and “it is illegal for an employer to refuse to hire a veteran because he has PTSD, because he was previously diagnosed with PTSD, or because the employer assumes he has PTSD.”
If the disability does qualify for protection under the ADA, then the veteran is entitled to reasonable accommodations at work. Below is a list of reasonable accommodations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- written materials in accessible formats, such as large print, Braille, or on computer disk
- recruitment fairs, interviews, tests, and training held in accessible locations
- modified equipment or devices (e.g., assistive technology that would allow a blind person to use a computer or someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to use a telephone; a glare guard for a computer monitor used by a person with a traumatic brain injury; a one-handed keyboard for a person missing an arm or hand)
- physical modifications to the workplace (e.g., reconfiguring a workspace, including adjusting the height of a desk or shelves for a person in a wheelchair)
- permission to work from home
- leave for treatment, recuperation, or training related to their disability
- modified or part-time work schedules
- a job coach who could assist an employee who initially has some difficulty learning or remembering job tasks
- modification of supervisory methods, which may include breaking complex assignments into smaller, separate tasks, adjusting methods of communication (e.g., giving instructions in writing rather than orally), or providing some additional feedback or guidance
- reassignment to a vacant position where a disability prevents performance of the employee’s current job, or where accommodating the employee in the current job would result in undue hardship