EEOC Issues Handbook to Help Small Businesses Comply with Disabilities Act
Washington, DC, August 15, 2002 - Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today announced the issuance of The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Primer for Small Business - a practical, reader-friendly handbook outlining the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) as they relate to both employees and job applicants. This publication is available on the Commission's Web site.###
"Since Title I of the ADA was implemented a decade ago, we have seen a lot of progress, but there is still a tremendous need for education," said Chair Dominguez. "Small businesses are a major source of jobs in this country - jobs for which people with disabilities must be given an equal opportunity to compete. Never before has the small business community had such easy access to information about the ADA."
Offering examples, tips, and "do's and don'ts," the handbook covers the following:
- Who is protected by Title I of the ADA;
- How to avoid mistakes when interviewing applicants with disabilities;
- When an employer is permitted to ask an employee questions about a medical condition;
- What to do if safety issues arise;
- The obligation to make reasonable accommodations to the limitations of qualified applicants and employees with disabilities; and
- Tax incentives for businesses that hire and retain people with disabilities.
Resource lists are included in the handbook to help small employers recruit individuals with disabilities and obtain assistance in making reasonable accommodations. According to statistics from the Small Business Administration, approximately 25 million small businesses in the United States represent 99.7 percent of all employers, employ more than 50 percent of the private work force, and generate more than half of the nation's gross domestic product. Small businesses also provide 67 percent of all first jobs.
The small business primer is the EEOC's second major effort undertaken in connection with President Bush's New Freedom Initiative - the government-wide program to fully integrate people with disabilities into mainstream American life. In April 2002, the EEOC launched an ongoing series of free ADA workshops for small businesses throughout the country.
Because the ADA covers employers with a minimum of 15 employees, both the new small business primer and the workshops target businesses with 15 to 100 employees, as well as those expected to expand to 15 employees in the near future. Businesses of this size typically do not have human resources or legal departments to provide them advice on the ADA. State and local government employers also are encouraged to use the handbook as a resource. This publication is available in hard copy as well as in alternate formats (braille, large print, audio tape or computer disk file) by calling (202) 663-4900 voice or (202) 663-4494 TTY.
In addition to enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by private sector and state and local governments that have 15 or more employees, and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government, the EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older; the Equal Pay Act; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the EEOC's enforcement of the ADA, including the New Freedom Initiative small business workshops, is available on the EEOC Web site.
TTY: (202) 663-4494