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The Americans With Disabilities Act hasn’t stopped egregious attempts at discrimination; check out this horror

The rights of the disabled are still constantly under attack by employers that should know better, given the existence of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. You’d think every human resources department would be well-versed in the obvious:

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

This case takes the cake – an employer that serves the disabled withdrew a job offer because of the applicant’s disability even after she received medical clearance that she was fit to perform the duties of the job. Oh yes, and Pace Solano in Vallejo, CA actually told the applicant why her disability was the reason — clearly illegal. And the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued on behalf of Katrina Holly.

After interviewing for a position to teach developmentally disabled adults at Pace Solano’s Vallejo, Calif., facility, Katrina Holly was immediately offered a job and asked to take a pre-employment physical exam. Holly successfully completed all of the tests and disclosed that she had partial paralysis in one hand to the examiner, so that he would have her complete medical information. Despite written verification from its own doctor that Holly was cleared to do the job, Pace Solano withdrew its job offer due to her hand. When she asked the company to reconsider, the response was, “Your injury makes you a liability; you don’t want to get hurt any more than you already are, do you?”

“When they told me I wasn’t getting the job, I was sure there was some mistake,” Holly said. “I was shocked to be told that it was because of my disability. Most people are unaware of it, and it didn’t prevent me from doing any of the tasks they tested me on.”

“It’s highly ironic that Pace Solano, an organization dedicated to assisting people with disabilities, rejected a fully capable and qualified applicant because of her disability,” said EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo. “As a result, they closed the door on an instructor who could have been a valuable and loyal employee.”

EEOC District Director Michael Baldonado added, “While we admire the work that Pace Solano performs for the community, there is simply no excuse for rejecting an applicant because of a disability which in no way impacts her performance.”

The fact is that Holly knew her rights —  Pace Solano was in the wrong. How many less-informed and qualified disabled people, used to rejection, would simply take the body blow of insult and walk away? Clearly Pace Solano didn’t even bat an eye with its illegal statement, so it’s hard to believe it wasn’t the first time it callously tossed off a rejection of this nature. It also makes you wonder how it treats any currently employed staff with disabilities.

I wonder how many of the “free-market” conservatives still see the ADA as an impediment to good business? Since we have so many wingers stepping up to say how people with cancer or other severe health issues shouldn’t be covered by health insurance (dying is apparently the cost-savings measure there), you have to gather that the disabled are just considered another “freeloader” group on the government teat of “unnecessary” rights and protections. You know, pols like U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).

PAUL: You know a lot of things on employment ought to be done locally. You know, people finding out right or wrong locally. You know, some of the things, for example we can come up with common sense solutions — like for example if you have a three story building and you have someone apply for a job, you get them a job on the first floor if they’re in a wheelchair as supposed to making the person who owns the business put an elevator in, you know what I mean? So things like that aren’t fair to the business owner. […]

Hat tip, EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding