Public Comment Invited on Proposed Rules to Implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The departments of Labor and Education have announced five Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and are seeking public comment. WIOA, signed by President Obama on July 22, 2014, is the first major reform to federal job training programs in more than 15 years. WIOA is designed to improve the coordination of employment and training services across federal agencies, strengthen collaboration with state and local partners, and provide Americans with increased access to training, education and other support to succeed in the job market and in their careers. The comment period for the proposed rules ends June 15, 2015.

Department of Labor Announces Availability of Disability Employment Initiative Grants

The Department of Labor has announced the availability of approximately $15 million in grants through the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) to state workforce agencies to develop flexible and innovative strategies to increase the participation of people with disabilities in federally funded education and training programs. The grants are the sixth round of funding through the DEI, a joint program of DOL’s Employment and Training Administration and the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Workforce agencies interested in applying for this funding should visit The deadline to apply is June 11, 2015.

The Washington Center Welcomes Acting Assistant Secretary Sheehy

Expanding the concept of diversity to include disability was the theme of a workshop at the Civic Engagement and Leadership Event held April 10 at The Washington Center (TWC) in Washington, DC. Acting assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy Jennifer Sheehy addressed an audience of college students from across the nation and around the world who are participating in TWC’s spring internship semester. “Now more than ever, students with disabilities have a range of career choices and companies eager to access their talents,” said Sheehy, who also emphasized the importance of bringing all aspects of one’s identity to work.

Accommodating Employees with Mental Health Disabilities in Higher Education Webinar — April 23, 1:00-2:00 PM EDT

In this webinar, participants will learn why, how and when to accommodate employees with mental health disabilities in the higher education employment setting. In addition to addressing the legal framework for the provision of such accommodations, speakers will provide practical guidance and strategies higher education HR professionals can use to respond confidently to reasonable accommodation requests from employees across all sectors of their institution and develop a well-planned process that will lead to sound decisions. Several real-life accommodation situations and solutions from colleges and universities across the country will also be presented. The webinar, sponsored by the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) in coordination with the ODEP-funded Employer TA Center, and featuring speakers from the Job Accommodation Network and The Viscardi Center, will be held April 23, 1:00-2:00 PM EDT.

Latest EARN Newsletter Now Available

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network’s (EARN) latest newsletter was released on April 15, featuring information on several upcoming educational events, a new public service announcement from The Arc of the U.S., recent articles on disability employment and more. This issue’s employer spotlight is a Microsoft pilot program launched during Autism Awareness Month to hire more people with autism spectrum disorders. EARN is a service of the National Employer Policy, Research and Technical Assistance Center for Employers on the Employment of People with Disabilities, which is funded by ODEP under a cooperative agreement with The Viscardi Center.

EEOC Issues Proposed Rule on Application of the ADA to Employer Wellness Programs

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) describing how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans. The EEOC’s proposed rule would provide guidance to both employers and employees about how such wellness programs can comply with the ADA consistent with provisions governing wellness programs in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as amended by the Affordable Care Act. The NPRM is available in the Public Inspection portion of the Federal Register, and will be officially published on April 20, 2015. The comment period ends June 19, 2015.