Public Comments for 01/14/2021 General Laws - Subcommittee #1
HB1848 - Virginia Human Rights Acts; adds discrimination on the basis of disability.
The Virginia Board for People with Disabilities supports adding discrimination on the basis of disability to the Virginia Human Rights Act. The bill is consistent with protections afforded under the ADA and gives individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity for employment. According to the annual Job Accommodation Network survey. Employers reported providing accommodations that resulted in such benefits as retaining valuable employees, improving productivity and morale, reducing workers’ compensation and training costs, and improving company diversity. The employers participating in this survey reported a high percentage (56%) of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to implement ($0), while the rest of the accommodations made had a typical cost of only $500. This $500 typical cost has been consistent across the many years of the JAN survey.
On behalf of the Virginia Association of Community-Based Providers (VACBP), the largest association of private-sector providers that offer community-based behavioral health services to Virginia's Medicaid population, I want to express our support for HB1848 (Sickles) and HB 2130 (Lopez). Our association launched OneVACBP, an initiative focused on fighting racism and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. These bills both align with the OneVACBP initiative and for that reason, we support them. Thanks to Del. Sickles and Del. Lopez for introducing these important bills.
The original version of the bill contained a rebuttable $500 limit on accommodation costs for small employers. That limit should have been retained, along with other limits on liability. If disabled people are too costly to hire, employers just won't hire them. That arguably happened with the ADA itself, because it contained vague terms such as "undue hardship" and "reasonable accommodation," without defining them or placing clear limits on what costs employers would have to put up with. One study argued that "Contrary to legislative intent, ADA makes [the] disabled less employable." "Studies of the consequences of the employment provisions of ADA show that the Act has led to less employment of disabled workers." See Thomas DeLeire, "The Unintentended Consequences of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Regulation, Volume 23, pg. 21 (1995). The "ADA caused a decrease of about 8 percentage points in the employment rate of men with disabilities." DeLeire, Regulation, Vol. 23, at pg. 23. The $500 limit contained in Del. Sickles' original bill might actually have encouraged employers to hire more disabled people, by reducing litigation in ambiguous circumstances, and making disabled people less costly to employ. That limit may have been win-win for employers and disabled workers, by encouraging employers to hire more disabled people.
HB1848 conforms to the Americans with Disabilities Act except in the "cause of action" section. The cause of action is tailored to state courts where summary judgment is unlikely, so this is a significant increase in exposure for employers. The VMA appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with the Disability Law Center of Virginia on an amendment. The VMA and its member companies are also committed to helping Virginians with different levels of ability to get industry skills through our joint and award-winning workforce training programs with DARS, CPID, and the Wilson Workforce Training Center. http://manufacturingskillsinstitute.org/lean-accessibility-program/ We hope that the members will accept our amendment request to strike Lines 171-223 of the introduced bill.
VOCAL, a peer-run mental health advocacy organization, supports HB1848. Ensuring that "disability" is one of the protected classes in employment is a vital step for the Commonwealth's movement towards a more inclusive and equitable society.
As advocates for the LGBTQ community in Virginia, we at Equality Virginia know that individuals with intersecting marginalized identities and experiences face an increased risk of discrimination. Moreover, it is evident that people with disabilities endure routine mistreatment, exclusion, and lack of accommodations that are often worse when they are Black, Latinx, Indigenous, a person of color, and/or LGBTQ. Therefore, Equality Virginia supports House Bill 1848 that would strengthen the Virginia Human Rights Act by extending protections to disabled people and explicitly prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of disability.
The disAbility Law Center of Virginia, the designated protection and advocacy system for individuals with disabilities in Virginia, strongly supports this bill. During the 2020 regular session, the Virginia Human Rights Act was amended to prohibit discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. Prohibition of discrimination against people with disabilities were included in all aspects of that bill except for employment. This bill extends protections against disability in employment for people with disabilities. This language change is essential to remove the barrier of discrimination in employment for individuals with disabilities, who experience unemployment at twice the rate of those without disabilities.
Thank you for suggesting protections for the disabled.
HB1876 - Workforce development; expands type of data sharing.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, My name is Clayton Medford and I am speaking on behalf of the Northern Virginia Chamber’s 700 members and close to 500,000 employees in favor of HB1876. Over the past several months, the Chamber has been working with our members to develop an apprenticeship network. In that effort, we’ve discovered that while many such programs exist they are not coordinating or sharing best practices among those companies. Without exception, each company we’ve approached has been supportive of the idea of creating this network to collaborate. We believe creating an apprenticeship network will lead to a stronger workforce development system in our region. By that same logic, we believe breaking down the silos among state agencies would help foster that kind of system the Commonwealth. We strongly support this administration’s efforts to create a workforce development ecosystem and would ask you report this bill. Thank you. Clayton Medford Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce
The Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) strongly supports HB1876, sponsored by Delegate Subramanyam.
HB1830 - Virginia Small Business Financing Authority; members to have small business lending experience.
The Prince William Chamber of Commerce supports this legislation
The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce supports this initiative which seeks to ensure that proper real-world experience exists on the VSBFA to meet the needs of small businesses.