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Jury Orders Amazon To Pay Ex-Employee With Asperger’s $1.2 Million

by Salvador Hernandez, Los Angeles Times/TNS | November 14, 2023

A former Amazon employee with Asperger’s syndrome claimed he was bullied and abused by co-workers at a warehouse in San Bernardino, Calif. and the company did nothing when he spoke up.

Co-workers called him “retard,” “a waste of life,” and one person asked why he was working there “if you can’t do the job?” according to a lawsuit filed in court.

A jury awarded the worker, Michael Kopp, $1.2 million earlier this month after finding that Amazon intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the former employee when its human resources department failed to stop the harassment.

Coffee Shop Hires Workers With Disabilities. Why Do Some Say That’s Bad News?

by Morgan Hughes, The State/TNS | October 10, 2023

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A new coffee shop is moving into downtown Columbia, but the unique business model has some disability rights advocates concerned.

Bitty and Beau’s Coffee is a national chain of coffee shops that predominantly hires people with developmental and intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism.

The company boasts the slogan “a human rights movement disguised as a coffee shop.”

Leaders at Able SC, a statewide policy group that advocates for disability rights, were concerned about the February 2022 announcement that Bitty and Beau’s planned to open a shop in Columbia, the group’s CEO Kimberly Tissot said.

Labor Department Scrutinizing Subminimum Wage Employment

October 2, 2023

Facing rising pressure to stop allowing people with disabilities to work for less than minimum wage, federal officials say they plan to undertake a “comprehensive review” of the employment model.

The U.S. Department of Labor said it will take a broad look at what’s known as the Section 14(c) program. Under a law dating back to the 1930s, the program allows employers to receive special 14(c) certificates from the department permitting them to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

Culinary Training Offers Adults With Autism A Path To Independence

by Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times/TNS | October 3, 2023

LOS ANGELES – Shin rolled out the cookie dough. Asia sauteed the onions. Christopher fried the tortilla chips. Richard cooked the pinto beans.

The kitchen at The Arc Los Angeles and Orange Counties in Downey was hopping.

For two weeks, the nonprofit’s culinary students – seven men ranging in age from 22 to 41, decked out in black chef’s coats with metal tags that included their first names and “Future Chef” –
had catered breakfast and lunch for a human resources conference. This was the final day, and lunch would be a feast for 50 of chicken tinga, cochinita pibil and bean-and-potato tacos.

Lack of Quality Jobs, Stereotyping Reason for 20% Pay Gap for People With Disabilities, Advocate Says

Over 87,000 people live with disabilities in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge James Chaarani, CBC News
Posted: Jul 03, 2023

New data from Statistics Canada shows that people with disabilities across the country were paid 21.4 per cent less than those without disabilities in 2019, but a Waterloo Region advocate offers insight as to why this might be.

“I think a lot of people with disabilities don’t get the quality jobs that other people receive because of many stereotypes that employers still have regarding people with disabilities,” said Edward Faruzel, the executive director of KW AccessAbility.

How the Workplace Can Progress on Disability Inclusion

While regulations are in place, Canadian employers lag in implementation 26 Sep 2023
This article is provided by Kee Safety

Approximately 30 per cent of Canadians adults are living with some form of disability. In 2019 the Canadian Government put in place the Accessible Canada Act, setting itself the ambitious goal of becoming a barrier-free society by 2040. Given the reality that many of us will experience disability at some point – either through becoming a caretaker of a relative or individually – implementation of the Government’s plan is crucial.

Walmart Sued by US Agency Over Test That Screened Out Disabled Workers

By Daniel Wiessner

Sept 13 (Reuters) – The U.S. agency that enforces workplace discrimination laws said on Wednesday that it had sued Walmart Inc (WMT.N) over allegations it fired hourly workers with disabilities who could not pass a computer-based test.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that the test, which Walmart began administering nationwide in 2015, had no connection to workers’ job duties, in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Arkansas.

The commission said Walmart gave newly-hired workers up to 180 days to pass the “knowledge assessment,” and that they could take it up to three times. But Walmart failed to provide accommodations for the test to workers with disabilities as required by federal law, the EEOC said.

From Kicked Off to Welcome Aboard: How a Blind Vancouver Paralympian was Hired by Virgin Cruise Line

Shannon Paterson
Multi-skilled Journalist, CTV News Vancouver
Published Sept. 9, 2023

Donovan Tildesley, 39, has been blind since birth. But that hasn’t stopped him from traveling the world.

“I was very blessed to have parents who encouraged me to do any and everything that someone with sight could do,” said Tildesley.

Last November, he boarded a Virgin Voyages Caribbean cruise that he’d booked through a travel agent. “I made him aware and he made the company aware that I was blind,” said Tildesley.

But just as the ship was getting set to leave Miami, two Virgin Voyages crew members approached him.

Government of Canada Invests in Projects to Increase Access to Employment Opportunities and Support Persons With Disabilities in the Workplace

News release
August 29, 2023 Sydney, Nova Scotia Employment and Social Development Canada

Building on the government of Canada’s commitment to improve inclusion and financial security of Canadians with disabilities, today, the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera, announced nearly $73 million in funding under the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities (OF) to support 31 projects that organizations across Canada will launch this year.

This funding is in addition to $118 million announced in June 2023 to support 60 projects, which brings the Government’s total investment under the OF 2022 call for proposals to approximately $191 million.

Characters With Disabilities ‘Consistently Missing’ From Movies

by Shaun Heasley | August 24, 2023

Despite years of advocacy, a scathing new report finds that fewer of the most popular new movies are featuring people with disabilities.

In an analysis of the 100 top-grossing films last year, researchers found that 54 did not include a single speaking character with a disability. That’s more than in previous studies looking at movies released in 2021 and 2015.

The report out this month from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism looks at representation within the cast and behind the camera for the top 100 films each year between 2007 and 2022. Researchers reviewed 69,858 speaking characters to assess inclusion across gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability status.