October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and local business leaders and human resources professionals are invited to learn more about employing people with disabilities at the “Educate, Empower, Employ” luncheon scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 13, at the College of the Canyons Institute of Culinary Education. The event is sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Mayor’s Committee for Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, and is supported by local businesses and members of the community with a common interest. “Committees of this kind historically start as a group of individuals who are supporting people with disabilities,” said Ken Wiseman, chairperson of the committee and CEO of AMS Fulfillment, which is a sponsor of the event. “That’s their passion – they’re people who’ve focused their career on helping people with disabilities.” The other crucial part of the committee is employers who want to create opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Wiseman said the challenge is getting companies to be involved and take pride in the fact that “they’re working on solutions to recruit and increase the number of individuals with disabilities that they employ.” “It’s good business and it’s good community to be following this pursuit,” he said. The luncheon is free for C-level executives and HR professionals who are employing or intend to employ people with disabilities. Legal requirements Employment law expert Brian Koegle, a partner in the law firm Poole & Shaffery L.L.P., also a sponsor of the event, will provide an update on the latest legal obligations for employers interested in hiring people with disabilities. His talk will cover requirements businesses must satisfy to accommodate individuals with disabilities, both under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). “Specifically, I’ll be talking about which employers are required to comply with each of those laws,” said Koegle. “I’ll focus on what it means to be disabled under those laws, what obligations fall upon the employer to accommodate (people with disabilities), and for California employers, what it means to enter into the ‘interactive process.’” The interactive process, according to Koegle, is the ongoing dialogue between an employer and employee about what is and what is not working for the employee and whether or not the accommodations offered are satisfactory. It also covers what the employer is required to do versus what are best practices depending on the size of the employing company. Other sponsors of the luncheon include Boston Scientific, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SetPoint Medical, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, the city of Santa Clarita, College of the Canyons and Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The Economic Development Corporation will also be on hand to present a disability policy update. Boston Scientific will relate the story of its journey to becoming a disability-inclusive employer. The program will conclude with a presentation of acknowledgement to SCV employers who have demonstrated a commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities. The Santa Clarita Valley Mayor’s Committee luncheon takes place at noon Thursday, Oct. 13, at College of the Canyons Institute of Culinary Education, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Santa Clarita. Register online at www.scvmayorscommittee.org. If you have questions about the event or would like your company considered for recognition, call Ken Wiseman at 661-705-7592.