Employer Series Joe Hoffer Video Transcript

Joe Hoffer speaking in video:

I’m Joe Hoffer. I’m a partner and a lawyer with a firm called Cohen Highley LLP.

We have different areas of expertise, so we have lawyers who practice in different areas of the law. We have law clerks, we have paralegals, we have legal assistants and we have administrative staff, and we have people with disabilities working at every level in those different operational areas.

Within the culture of our firm, within the human resources culture of our firm we’ve developed an understanding of people with disabilities. It’s helped us, who don’t have disabilities, or who don’t identify that way, helped us put things into perspective when it comes to the things that we deal with. I think it creates a much greater sense of inclusiveness.

I can’t tell you enough the number of favourable comments we’ve had from our clients, for the fact that we employ people with disabilities and that they interact with those people with disabilities.

So there are lots of benefits to hiring someone with a disability. So how do you go about doing it?

The first thing is to decide you’re going to do it.

The second thing is to give direction to your staff who are in charge of hiring, let them know that they have the authority to do this. Make sure that they take the necessary steps to actually implement it, and for them to know they are not going to be penalized by your company for having hired somebody if it doesn’t work out.

The reality is if it doesn’t work out, what we’ve done is we’ve explained to the employee that it hasn’t worked out. As long as their disability isn’t a reason why it hasn’t worked out, and in my experience it never is, then you terminate a person with a disability the same way you terminate anyone else. That is by giving them proper notice and ending the employment contract in that manner.

If you’re a business, in particular if you’re a service business that deals with the public like a law firm, and you’re hesitant about doing this, the first thing I’ll tell you is – you will be amazed at the benefits that your business gets as a result of doing this.

For more Disability Employment Awareness Month resources, visit the DEAM section of the ODEN website.