Our lawyers provide timely updates for employers in all legal aspects of employee relations and employment law, and track and comment on pending changes to employment law in New Jersey and nationally.

Stay Connected. Subscribe to Wilentz Blogs.

Employment Law Update: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

10.28.2022

In 1945, President Harry Truman established October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  However, it took decades for real legislative gains to be made for the employment of persons with disabilities.  It was not until 1973, almost 30 years later, that the Rehabilitation Act was passed, and not until 1990, 45 years later, that the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.  In his proclamation announcing this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, President Joseph Biden asked that we “acknowledge workers with disabilities who make our communities, our economy and our Nation stronger.”  

The New Jersey Model Employer of People with Disabilities (“SAME”) Law

New Jersey recently passed the State as a Model Employer of People with Disabilities (“SAME”) Act, which increases the ability of the significantly disabled to obtain employment.  The new law requires the State to establish a “fast track hiring and advancement” employment opportunity program for qualified persons with “significant disabilities.”  The Civil Service Commission, in conjunction with the Division of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, is tasked with developing the program.

Who Qualifies As A Person with “Significant Disabilities?”

Under New Jersey’s new law, a person with “significant disabilities” is a person whose “physical or mental impairments impact the ability to participate in the competitive hiring and promotion process within the State workforce.” This law provides guidelines to determine which individuals qualify as persons with significant disabilities.  Those criteria include, but are not limited to, the receipt of Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income,  supports or benefits from the Division of Developmental Disabilities, the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, or a disabled veterans’ benefit program.  A person with “significant disabilities” must provide proof or documentation of their status.

Employment Under the Program

A person with “significant disabilities” will be eligible first for temporary appointment to an “unclassified service or noncompetitive position” within the Civil Service. Once this person shows proof of eligibility for employment and is observed on the job to establish that they can perform the duties of the position, their employment can be made permanent. There is also a working test period within which the employee must be provided interim progress reports and a final progress report. 

Private Employment of Persons with Significant Disabilities

Currently, both federal and New Jersey State law provide different rules for the employment of persons with significant disabilities.  These include the ability of employers to pay below minimum wage for employees whose productive capacity is impaired by a disability.  However, the current legislative trends, both in New Jersey and federally, are moving away from a lower wage standard for significantly disabled employees.  Instead, legislation has been proposed to give tax credits and other supports to businesses that hire persons with significant disabilities.  For example, Senate Bill 2806, currently pending in the New Jersey legislature, would provide business tax and gross income tax credits to private businesses that employ certain persons with development disabilities.

TAKEAWAY:  The State of New Jersey is attempting to become a model employer of people with disabilities. If you are an employer and want to employ a person with a disability, or need assistance with any other federal or New Jersey employment law, contact Stephanie Gironda or any member of the Wilentz Employment Law Team.

BLOG DISCLAIMER

The postings on this blog were created for general informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or a solicitation to provide legal services.  Although we attempt to ensure that the postings are complete, accurate, and current as of the time of publication, we assume no responsibility for their completeness, accuracy, or timeliness.  The information in this blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship.  Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.

This blog may contain links to independent third party websites and services, including social media. We provide these links for your convenience, and you access them at your own risk.  We have no control over and do not monitor the content or policies (including privacy policies) of these third-party websites and have no responsibility for, and no liability with respect to, their content, accuracy, or reliability.  Unless expressly stated, we do not endorse any of the linked websites or any product, service, or publication referenced herein or therein.  We will remove a link to any site from this blog upon request of the linked entity.

We grant permission to readers to link to this blog so long as this blog is not misrepresented. This site is not sponsored or associated with any other site unless so identified.

If you wish for Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A., to consider representing you, please obtain contact information from the Contact Us area of this blog or go to the firm’s website at www.wilentz.com.  One of our lawyers will be happy to discuss the possibility of representation with you. However, the authors of Wilentz blogs are licensed only in New Jersey and/or New York and do not wish to represent anyone who viewed this site in a state where the site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state.