Universal Access
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Overview

The NYS Department of Labor promotes universal access so that all people can apply for Unemployment Insurance and use New York State Career Center services. This includes help for: Disabled Individuals, Individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), Older Workers, and Displaced Homemakers.

Disability Access

We inspect New York State Career Centers to ensure that the buildings are accessible to individuals with disabilities, and we offer reasonable accommodations that include auxiliary aids, services, and interpreters for people who are:

  • Deaf or hearing impaired
  • Blind or visually impaired
  • Having other sensory or manual impairments

Most New York State Career Centers have Disability Coordinators or Disability Program Navigators who offer more help for the disabled.

Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

We support outreach to diverse populations and ensure that LEP individuals have access to all career center programs and activities.

Individuals who have difficulty communicating effectively in English may be designated as Limited English Proficient because:

  • Their primary language is not English
  • They have not developed fluency in the English language
  • They may have difficulty speaking or reading English
  • They may benefit from an interpreter who will translate to and from their primary language.
  • They may need documents translated from English into their primary language to understand important information about the service they need.

Legal Protection from Discrimination

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that no person in the United States shall on the ground of race, color or national origin be excluded from participation in, denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from employment discrimination based upon race, color and national origin. Title VII extends to all workers in the United States whether they were born in the US or abroad and regardless of citizenship status.

In August of 2000, Executive Order 13166 “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency” was issued and directed federal agencies and organizations that get money from the federal government to take reasonable steps to help people who have trouble with English.

LEP Access

New York State Career Centers: Provide on-site interpretive services at Career Center offices using bi-lingual staff or by telephone. We have posters that let customers know of free interpretive services at the Career Centers.

Unemployment Insurance Call Centers: Provide language interpretation in 179 languages. The service is available by phone and it is free.

NYS UI Appeal Board is required to provide bilingual services to Spanish-speaking claimants.

The Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs: provides assistance to the growing needs of the Immigrant Worker and Limited English Proficient workers at the New York State Career Centers and in the community. The staff does this by:

  • Suggesting ways to improve job-related services at the Career Centers
  • Reaching out to the communities to ensure that non-English-speaking workers understand the labor law, know their rights in the workplace, and are aware of the services that DOL offers

LEP and Business/Apprenticeships

In evaluating whether to adopt an "English Only" rule, an employer should weigh the business justifications for the rule against the possible discriminatory effects. While there is no precise test for making this evaluation, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends consideration of:

  • Evidence that justifies the rule due to safety needs
  • Evidence that justifies the rule due to supervision or effective communication needs
  • The likely effectiveness of the rule in carrying out objectives
  • The English proficiency of workers affected by the rule

The EEOC also recommends that an employer consider any alternatives to an "English Only" rule that would work as well to promote safety or efficiency.

Such a rule would be unlawful if it were adopted with the intent to discriminate on the basis of national origin or merely because the person had an accent. Additionally, a policy that prohibits some but not all of the foreign languages spoken in a workplace, such as a no-Chinese rule, would be unlawful. For further information, please visit the EEOC website.

Resources

Limited English Proficiency (LEP) - A Federal Interagency Website (LEP.gov)

LEP.gov - Resources

LEP.gov - Guidance

The Department of Labor accepts and uses calls from the NYS Relay System. For details, go to: http://nyrelay.com/.

For communication via telephone with persons who are deaf or hearing impaired, we offer TTY numbers for the New York State Career Center offices and the Unemployment Insurance Call Centers.

TTY/TDD 1-(800)-662-1220 or 711 NYS Relay Service.
Voice 711 or 1 (800) 421-1220
Captioned Telephone 1(877) 243-2823
Spanish 711 or 1 (877) 662-4886.