Many find themselves caught up in a Monday afternoon daydream where they get to wake late and spend their afternoons with nothing better to do than watch their favorite TV program…and then the phone rings or the boss looks their way and they snap back into the reality of work.
What if this wasn’t your daydream? What if you were stuck at home, not because of some windfall of luck, but because employer after employer refused to hire you? For many disabled people, this is an all-too-real scenario.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 found that society has had a tendency to isolate and discriminate against those with disabilities by refusing them work, housing, education, health care and other vital services. Add to this physical barriers such as inaccessible workstations and unmodified entryways and the need for the ADA becomes apparent.
To prevent these discriminatory acts from continuing to happen, the ADA has set up certain provisions that protect qualified people against discrimination related to hiring, job advancement, discharge, compensation, training and other such employment rights and opportunities. This includes providing “reasonable” (meaning that the size of the company and its financial resources are taken into consideration) modifications to the workplace such as ramps, workstations and the location of necessary work tools.
Companies who fail to meet the ADA standards can be required to pay a fine, go to court or both. This process begins with a person who has experienced discrimination filing a claim to any United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office within 180 days of the incident. If a reasonable settlement isn’t reached, then it is possible to file a lawsuit with the Federal court after receiving a “right-to-sue” letter from the EEOC.
While the ADA enforcement has helped to prevent and curtail workplace discrimination, there are still countless cases of disabled persons being turned down for work who believe it is due to their particular disability.
If you or anyone you know has questions regarding their own situation, here are some good resources:
EEOC field office locater: (800) 669-4000 (voice) & (800) 800-3302 (TTY)