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Obama address at Honeywell highlights veterans returning to work

Some veterans report difficulty in transitioning back to civilian jobs. For veterans who will be returning to the workplace and fear disability discrimination, that process might seem impossible.

Last Friday, President Obama gave an address at Honeywell's campus in Golden Valley, Minnesota. According to a senior administration official, the stop was an opportunity for Obama to spotlight his new initiative for getting veterans back to work, called "We Can't Wait." The program aims to help service members get the civilian credentials and licenses they need to return to the work force.

In that regard, Honeywell has been a model employer, putting 900 military veterans on the payroll at its facilities in Minnesota and elsewhere since the start of 2011. However, other employers have not done as well, perhaps fearing that some veterans might require extra accommodations.

Veteran or not, you deserve to be treated fairly in the workplace if you are disabled. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a business with 15 or more employees may be required to make reasonable accommodations to disabled workers. Examples of reasonable accommodations may include modifying the employee's work schedule, making facilities accessible to the disabled, and modifying tests and training materials.

In addition, the definition of "disability" has expanded in recent years, offering workers more protections. Previously, a person might not have qualified for protection under the ADA if a treatment, medical device, or other measure -- such as medication or a hearing aid -- allowed the person to perform a major life activity with little or no difficulty. Now, because of amendments to the ADA in 2008, a person may still qualify for benefits even if he or she receives such "mitigating measures." Several federal agencies have also added more stringent requirements for disability accommodations and offered expanded interpretations of what it means to be disabled.

If you are disabled and your employer has refused to make any accommodations in your workplace to assist you in performing your job duties, you may be the victim of disability discrimination. If that's the case, don't delay in consulting with an attorney, because the law limits the time in which you may file with the EEOC after the unlawful treatment. An attorney can help protect your rights.

Source: Star Tribune, "Obama at Honeywell to spotlight jobs for vets," Jennifer Bjorhus and Susan Feyder, June 1, 2012

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