Monday, June 13, 2011

Week Three

I can’t believe three weeks have already flown by! It seems like just yesterday that I started at the Bazelon Center. Last week was really busy. Not only did I have a number of assignments to finish but I was also interviewed by the Department of Labor. The Department of Labor is doing a project putting a face to disabilities. The goal is to get employers to hire more people with disabilities. I am so honored to represent the millions of people out there with mental illness. It is so exciting to see my dream of becoming a disability advocate coming true!

Last week, I had also the opportunity to attend an EEOC Commission meeting. The topic of this meeting was “Leave as a reasonable accommodation”. The panelists included attorneys from the EEOC, the disability community, and businesses. The purpose of the meeting was to look at leave as an accommodation: what it means, how it works under the new regulations, and how the EEOC can help employees and employers. Even though the panelists came from different sides of the issue, it was great to see them agree on some things- the need for EEOC Guidance on the topic.

During the meeting the panelists discussed intermittent leave, taking leave when needed for your disability. The topic of intermittent leave,is of particular importance to me. I take intermittent leave. Because of my disability, I can’t predict when I won’t feel well enough to come to work. If I feel particularly depressed, I find it better to stay at home and get better instead of going to work and absently staring at my computer. Taking time off helps me recover faster and be more productive at work. When I need it, I tell my boss I need a “mental health day”. During the meeting there was some disagreement on protecting intermittent leave as a reasonable accommodation. I have a hard time seeing why it shouldn’t qualify. Disabilities vary and so should accommodations.

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