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The EEOC Updates Guidance on Visual Disabilities

16 Aug

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Update Applicable to:

All employers with 15 or more employees. Note, however, that disability laws in California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and a number of other states, apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees and apply to protections to individuals with disabilities.

What happened?

On July 26, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released new guidance concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its application to individuals with visual impairments in the workplace.

What are the details?

  1. Guidelines for Applicants
  • Employers should refrain from asking questions about visual impairments or related treatments before making a conditional job offer.
  • Employers can inquire about an applicant’s ability to perform job-specific tasks related to their vision impairment.
  • Applicants are not required to disclose disabilities unless seeking reasonable accommodations during the application process.
  • Employers must provide accommodations during the application process even if they believe they cannot accommodate the job’s requirements.
  • Employers should avoid asking applicants with obvious visual impairments intrusive questions but may ask about accommodation needs.
  • Guidelines for Employees
  • Employers can ask disability-related questions if there is objective evidence of impaired job performance or direct safety threats.
  • Disability-related questions are permitted to support an employee’s request for reasonable accommodation or comply with safety regulations.
  • Employers may request information about sick leave if consistent with requirements for all employees.
  • Accommodations and the Interactive Process
  • Employers should engage in the interactive process to explore accommodation possibilities for applicants and employees.
  • The guidance suggests various potential accommodations, including assistive technologies, alternative testing methods, lighting adjustments, and website modifications.
  • Employers should be open-minded and proactive in discussing and considering potential accommodations.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Employers using AI in decision-making processes should ensure it does not exclude applicants or employees with visual disabilities.
  • Steps should be taken to provide information on technology evaluations and how to seek reasonable accommodations if AI cannot accurately assess disabled individuals’ qualifications.
  • Other Considerations
  • Employers should assess whether accommodations are needed beyond the scope of the job, such as in break rooms, gyms, cafeterias, etc.
  • Harassment of individuals with visual impairments should be prevented, investigated, and remediated.

For more information, please see the links below:

EEOC Guidance

Law Firm Article

What do employers need to do?

Employers should evaluate their technology and application processes to ensure accessibility for visually disabled applicants. Understanding when the interactive process is necessary for visual disabilities is crucial. Employers should be proactive and open-minded in discussing accommodations for applicants and employees with visual impairments.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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