EEOC Guidance for Wounded Veterans

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued revised versions of two of its publications interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act for veterans with disabilities. The EEOC’s press release announcing the revisions include a forceful statistic: About 25% of recent veterans report having a service-connected disability. This is roughly twice the rate reported by all veterans. This change, along with the expansion of the ADA in the ADA Amendments Act, add up to a significant increase in the number of veterans who are protected by the ADA.

The broader definition of “disability” in the ADA Amendments Act to include impairments that limit major bodily functions (such as the proper working of the brain and neurological functioning) and to include episodic impairments that are disabling when active are particularly relevant to veterans. These changes mean that service-related injuries such as trauma to the brain and post-traumatic stress disorder will almost certainly qualify as disabilities.

The guidelines also provide detailed examples of reasonable accommodations for veterans with disabilities, such as:

  • providing a glare guard for the computer screen of an employee with a traumatic brain injury
  • providing a job coach or modifying supervisory methods for an employee who has difficulty with concentration and memory, and
  • modifying equipment and work space for an employee who uses a wheelchair.

In addition to the ADA, the guidelines provide information on the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), affirmative action programs for veterans, and more.