Overcoming Bias Towards Yourself
Its your choice to disclose a disability to anyone, and under the Americans with Disabilities Act, this includes an employer. This is especially true for those Veterans with hidden disabilities.
Should you decide to tell your employer about your disability, reasonable accommodations can be put in place to keep you productive and working if your disability hinders your ability to work. In the United States, discimination against veterans in the workplace is a crime.
If you decide to disclose your disability here are some tips:
- Have confidence your disability does not define who you are.
- Focus on your abilities, not your limitations.
- Talking to someone about a disability should not feel like a confession. You are helping others to understand that people with disabilities are just like anyone else.
- Realize that anyone who discriminates against veterans after they disclose a disability simply misinformed.
What If The Va Rejects My Disability Claim
If you apply to receive disability benefits from the VA, you can dispute their decision by making an appeal with the help of an experienced attorney.
There are several reasons why the VA might reject your application for disability benefits. If you apply for benefits but cannot provide sufficient medical evidence to verify your disability, the VA may be unwilling to give you benefits.
However, you reserve the right to get an independent medical examination from your doctor to provide additional evidence to the VA. Presenting the results of an IME to the VA can show them that a doctor has carefully examined your service-related medical records and assessed your condition accurately. If a physician determines that there is sufficient medical evidence of your disability, you can potentially change the VAs decision to deny you benefits.
The VA may also withhold benefits from you if they do not recognize a connection between your disability and your military service. Even if the VA acknowledges the legitimacy of your disability, they can still deny you benefits if there does not seem to be a connection between your condition and your service.
If you have been denied disability benefits or feel that the rating you received is too low, you can also make an appeal to the VA to potentially change your outcome. Its best not to go through the appeals process alone, though the help of an experienced attorney can make it much easier to make an appeal successfully.
Understand How Ableism Impacts Veterans
Many experience the stigma and discrimination against veterans associated with disability every day. This could prevent them from talking to people in their lives about their disability, which only adds stress to the Veteran. If you are a Veteran with a disability, know that there are protections that are meant to stop job discrimination against disabled veterans.
Often false assumptions lead to discrimination against veterans. For instance,a common stereotype suggests disability keeps Veterans from finding or keeping a job. In the past, this may have been a more accurate statement. For instance, if you compare Vietnam Veterans statistics from the 80s to Veterans today, youll see that unemployment rates for Veterans with a disability have gone down significantly and pay is protected under the ADA of 1990.
A study of Vietnam Veterans from the late 80s published in The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics showed that Vietnam Veterans suffering from PTSD were 8.5% less likely to be employed. Additionally, they earned on average, $5.63 less than Veterans without PTSD. This is empirical evidence of discrimination against disabled veterans.
Of those 4.7 million Veterans with a service-connected disability in 2019, only 4.8% were unemployed. The other 75% of Veterans with no disability had a similar unemployment rate of 3.7%, which was also the national average in 2019.
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Federal Court Approves Nationwide Class Action For Veterans With Ptsd
A federal judge has certified a nationwide class-action lawsuit seeking relief for thousands of Navy and Marine Corps veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who developed post-traumatic stress disorder , traumatic brain injury , or other mental health conditions, only to be unfairly labeled with a less-than-Honorable discharge. Tyson Manker, a Marine veteran of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, filed this federal class-action lawsuit in March 2018 along with the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress , a Connecticut-based organization whose members include Marine Corps and other veterans with less-than-Honorable discharges. The plaintiffs are represented by the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic and co-counsel Jenner & Block.
This decision is a victory for the tens of thousands of military veterans suffering from service-connected PTSD and TBI who are denied the support of VA resources because of an unfair discharge status.” Plaintiff Tyson Manker
This is the second nationwide class action certified in the nearly 30 year history of the Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, said law student intern, Samantha Peltz ’20, This suit represents an opportunity to obtain relief for thousands of men and women who bravely served our country and yet were unfairly denied by the NDRB.
Important Rights For Disabled Veterans
Disabled American veterans have a number of rights, some of which they may not be aware. Here are some of the top rights for disabled veterans, provided by way of federal veteran protections:
- Right to compensation: Veterans with a confirmed disability may have the right to compensation. Remember: Many levels of disability apply, from more minor disabilities to life-changing injuries. Veterans can seek compensation through the VA.
- Right to non-discriminatory workplace: Veterans cannot be fired, overlooked as applicants, overlooked for a promotion, or overlooked as re-hires solely because they are veterans.
- Right as a protected veteran: A veteran cannot be harassed, paid less, or treated unfairly because they are a veteran, according to the U.S. Department of Labor .
- Right to file a civil complaint: Any veteran who experiences discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, or veteran status can file a civil complaint.
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Resources: Discrimination Against Veterans With Disabilities
The following agencies, tools and resources are designed to protect and assist veterans with disabilities against discrimination and prejudice in the workplace:
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The EEOC is an anti-discrimination agency designed to protect employees against discrimination.
- Phone: 1-800-669-4000
U.S. Department of Justice
The DOJ is part of the federal governments executive branch responsible for overseeing that justice is served through the legal system, and the administrative arm of the ADA.
Recent War Vets Face Hiring Obstacle: Ptsd Bias
- An estimated 5%25-20%25 of the veterans who served since 9/11 have PTSD
- Department of Veterans Affairs reports 117%2C000 diagnosed cases
- 1 in 3 employers see PTSD as an impediment to hiring any veteran
Military leaders and veterans’ advocates worry about hidden hiring discrimination against Iraq and Afghanistan war vets by employers who see the veterans perhaps as emotionally damaged.
A key fear is how this could be contributing to stubbornly higher joblessness among the generation that volunteered to serve in the military after the 9/11 attacks. Because employers are barred by law from asking job applicants about mental health conditions, many assume that any veteran can be afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder although the vast majority returned from war without emotional problems, researchers and veterans advocates say.
“There is a need to be concerned about this issue and this stigma,” says Kevin Schmiegel, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring our Heroes program.
The Army is launching a “Hire a Veteran” campaign aimed partly at “debunking some of the myths around hiring disabled veterans,” says Nancy Adams, Army transition manager. “This should not be an issue.”
Leading corporate hiring managers have told researchers they fear these veterans might fly into a rage or “go postal.” As a consequence, veterans say they’ve seen blatant discrimination.
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Are Veterans A Protected Class
Yes. Some veterans are a protected class. If veterans qualify for a protected class under the requirements of VEVRAA or ADA, they are protected.
Protected Veteran Status established by VEVRAA requires military contractors to actively recruit and retain veterans in the workplace.
Under the ADA, veterans may also be protected as a person with disabilities if they meet ADA definitions of disability that are as follows:
The ADA defines an individual with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities has a record of such an impairment or is regarded, or treated by an employer, as having such an impairment, even if no substantial limitation exists. You are considered qualified if you are able to meet an employers requirements for the job, such as education, training, employment experience, skills, or licenses, and can perform the jobs essential or fundamental duties with or without reasonable accommodation.
An amendment to the ADA in 2008 made it easier for veterans to qualify for this protected status by broadening the range of conditions considered for protection. This addition partly included problems that may not affect every aspect of someones life, including episodic conditions like PTSD that may only need to have reasonable accommodations made occasionally, per request.
Understanding Ptsd And Veterans Discrimination In The Workplace
Because of the misunderstandings and stigmas that surround mental health, many employers wish to avoid such issues altogether. PTSD can come with a variety of adverse side effects, such as flashbacks, depression, panic attacks, anger, and more. These issues can be scary for employers who are unaware of the many resources available to Veterans and the progress made over many years.
This stems from vast areas of research, such as studies showing that Veterans are more likely to have PTSD symptoms improve when they are able to choose their form of treatment. Other PTSD facts and statistics display several advancements, including an understanding of the relationship of the disorder with substance abuse, the growing accessibility to mental health professionals, and a better prognosis that helps Veterans eliminate symptoms.
PTSD manifests itself differently depending on a variety of factors, including the cause, severity, and other elements surrounding the mental health of an individual.
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Can An Employer Ask Me About My Service
No. An employer is only permitted to ask you if you can perform the job duties with or without accommodation. Even if you have an obvious disability, the employer is not allowed to ask questions about how or when you were hurt.
There is one important distinction to make, however, which is the distinction between questions about your disability itself and questions about your ability to do the job.
If it seems likely that the employer will need to provide you with reasonable accommodation, the employer can ask certain questions. For example, you could be asked whether you need accommodation and if so, what kind. Further, the employer could ask you to demonstrate how you could perform the job. For example, if you are applying for a job that requires you to be able to lift 40 pounds, the employer may ask whether you would need assistance or request that you show him/her how you would accomplish the task yourself. These questions/demonstrations have nothing to do with your veterans status rather, they are about your ability to do the job and could be asked of any other applicant, whether disabled or not.
Federal Attempts To Help In The Works
As the momentum for legalization continues to gain strength on a state level, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have proposed legislation to change marijuanas legal status federally through bills such as the SAFE Banking Act and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act that have both passed the House, but died in the Senate.
A recent bill proposed by Sen. Mark Schatz, D-Hawaii, the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act,, was introduced in April and would allow the VA to legally prescribe and provide marijuana to veterans in states where it is legal.
The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev. There is also a companion bill in the House of Representatives, cosponsored by Representatives Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Dave Joyce, R-Ohio.
But federal legalization efforts keep running into the same Senate blockade as most other popular legislation, and that is Republican recalcitrance that leads to the inability to pass anything meaningful, including bipartisan bills.
Debus added that while the VA is bound by federal law, there is an overarching culture that resists change and an active vilification of cannabis using decades-old scare tactics.
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Military Vet With Ptsd Called Psycho By Boss: Eeoc Files Suit
We have recently seen a couple of cases of military veterans who were refused employment as truck drivers based upon a disability. A refusal to permit a reasonable accommodation for a disability violates the Americans With Disabilities Act .
A recently filed suit by the EEOC in Florida alleged that a trucking company refused to hire a military veteran who required the assistance of a trained service dog for his post-traumatic stress disorder because it had a no pet policy.
An EEOC attorney commented that this refusal to accommodate is an example of the hardships that returning veterans with disabilities can face as they seek to reintegrate into civilian life. Those challenges are hard enough without an employer denying someone a job simply because he needs a service dog, as so many do.
The EEOC sued in an earlier case claiming that it was company policy not to hire an Air Force vet suffering from bipolar disorder because he took medication to control his condition, even though he had medical reports showing that he could drive safely.
These were merely cases of failure to accommodate a vet with a disability.
Calling a vet with PTSD a psycho is a whole other thing, and the basis of a new EEOC suit.
The EEOC also claims that the two principal owners were aware of the ongoing harassment but took no steps to put an end to the abuse.
Resources For Veterans With Ptsd Facing Discrimination In The Workplace
Combatting discrimination against Veterans with PTSD may feel like an unwinnable battle, a moot point in which many heroes should simply move on and seek employment elsewhere. But there are copious resources available that can help you right injustices that may affect you or another person you know who served in the Armed Forces.
Most notably is the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission . Here, you can find information on laws and protections that employers must follow to comply with the law. The VA is also extremely useful in helping Veterans understand how to file a discrimination complaint.
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Veterans Employment Discrimination Guidance Updated
On Nov. 27, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provided new guidance related to the employment discrimination challenges that face our nations veterans. More specifically, the EEOC issued three revised documents that address how the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act apply to veteran employees and those employing them.
The updated guidance is especially important because post-9/11 veterans have suffered from higher unemployment than other veterans and civilians. Scholars and political leaders have acknowledged that the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have put many veterans in a perilous employment situation. First, and most notably, U.S. Reserve and National Guard members must balance civilian employment with their military obligations, including combat deployments. Achieving this balance is particularly challenging when veterans face mental health treatment for afflictions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Second, civilian employers can often be insensitive or downright hostile to their veteran employees wartime experiences. Third, stereotyping frequently occurs when veterans are perceived as damaged from their wartime experiences. Popular culture reflects and reinforces this stereotype by regularly portraying veterans as broken and unstable in movies and television shows.
What Are My Rights If I Have A Disability
Under the ADA, employers with fifteen or more employees cannot discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. The FEHA bars discrimination by employers with five or more employees. This means that if you have a disability and can do the basic duties of the job, you cannot be harassed, demoted, terminated, paid less, or treated more poorly because of your disability.
Qualified disabled employees must be able to perform the essential functions of their jobs with or without reasonable accommodations. Persons with disabilities may request and obtain reasonable accommodations to enable them to perform their jobs. Qualified applicants cannot be rejected on the basis of their disabilities, and may obtain reasonable accommodation during the hiring process.
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Are Ptsd And Other Mental Health Conditions Protected
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the law protects employees suffering from depression, PTSD, and other mental health disorders from workplace discrimination and harassment due to their condition. If you have a mental health condition, you should know your rights in the workplace. If youre an employer, you should understand these rights and your role in protecting them.
Employees have workplace privacy rights regarding any medical condition they may have. As an employee, you may also be entitled to a reasonable accommodation that can help you fulfill your work duties and keep your job. You also have rights and protections under the ADA and FMLA if youre employed with a mental health condition.
Right To Reasonable Accommodations
Like anyone else who has a disability in the workplace, a veteran is entitled under federal and state laws to receive a reasonable accommodation for their disability. These laws cover both physical conditions like spinal cord damage and psychological conditions like PTSD. You are entitled to a reasonable accommodation regardless of whether you are returning to your former job or pursuing a new job. However, you need to be able to perform the main job duties with or without the accommodation.
An accommodation will be considered reasonable if it does not create an undue hardship for the employer. This means that it would impose an overly onerous cost or would disrupt the work environment. Some additional cost is not enough to create an undue hardship. For example, you might be able to obtain additional rest breaks, a work station in a quieter area of your office, or flexible working hours.
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