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New disability discrimination guidance released by EEOC

Employers have an understandable interest in hiring qualified and capable candidates for any given position. The law certainly honors this interest and grants employers a great deal of discretion in their hiring decisions. However, as long as the candidate is indeed capable of performing a given position's duties and meets several other basic criteria, the law also protects applicants and employees from various forms of discrimination. The grey areas where employer concerns and employee rights may potentially collide can be challenging scenarios to navigate for both parties.

As a result, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) frequently releases guidance aimed at educating employers about the ways in which they may and may not take certain factors into account when choosing to interview, hire, promote, fire and otherwise interact with applicants and employees. This guidance also serves to enlighten applicants and workers about their rights under the law.

In one recently released set of guiding regulations and principles, the EEOC advised employers on certain nuances related to disability discrimination. Specifically, it issued revised guidance with regards to applicants and employees who have intellectual disabilities, cancer, diabetes and epilepsy. The publication is entitled "Disability Discrimination: The Questions and Answers Series," and is available on the agency's website.

Generally, the EEOC's new publication advises employers on the Americans with Disabilities Act's recent amendments which expand the definition of disability to more inclusively address the needs of individuals with the conditions noted above. Under the ADA, these individuals have a right to certain accommodations and to be treated in ways that are free from discrimination related to their conditions.

Both concerned employers and affected employees are encouraged to check out the EEOC's new guidance in order to learn about their rights. If workers believe that their rights are being violated, they should seek the advice of an experienced attorney in order to begin exploring their options.

Source: The National Law Review, "Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Offers Guidance on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Workplace Accommodations," Tiffany S. Fordyce, Michael D. Karpeles and Julia Riedel Emfinger, June 7, 2013

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