9-3 Legislation
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9-3 Legislation

Welcome back to
our next segment on disability and employment with our Perspectives
on Disability MOOC. In this segment, we’re going
to talk about legislation, specifically the Americans
with Disabilities Act. I have found certainly
that in teaching and in talking to
other colleagues, as well as administrators
and so forth, there’s a vast lack of knowledge with regard to the ADA and what its impact
is on employment. And so from my standpoint, even just a little bit
of introduction to this is hopefully going
to be helpful. And, again, would encourage
you to look at our resources to find more
information on this. As a starting point,
I would say that the Americans with
Disabilities Act applies to lots of companies, but that company has to have
at least 15 employees. Not full-time, but just if
you have 15 employees or more, the ADA is something
that you have to abide by. The employment title associated
with this law is one of the more controversial
aspects of the ADA. Unfortunately, many employers have little knowledge or
awareness regarding it. As such, employment
myths abound. The U.S. Department of Labor has a particularly interesting
document about this topic. A link is provided in
your weekly readings. Some of the more prevalent
myths include the belief that the ADA forces
employers to hire unqualified individuals
with disabilities. This is incorrect. Potential employees
must be qualified. They must be able to meet
the essential functions of the job with or without
an accommodation. A second common
myth is the belief that when there are several
qualified applicants for a job and one has a disability,
that the employer is required to hire the
one with a disability. Again, this is not true. The employer always
has the option to choose among
qualified candidates. He or she cannot, however,
base the decision on the applicant’s disability. And a third myth is that the ADA places a financial burden on small businesses that cannot afford to
make accommodations. Again, this is not correct. Businesses with fewer
than 15 employees are not required to
abide by the ADA. In addition, businesses
are not required to provide accommodations that result
in undue hardship. In the previous slide,
there were three concepts that I would like
to briefly explain. Specifically, I want
to mention the ideas of essential function, reasonable accommodations,
and undue hardship. Essential functions pertain
to the nature of the job. That is, what are
the specific skills, knowledge, and abilities
required to perform the task. For example, imagine a
taxi company is hiring drivers. Certainly an essential
function associated with driving a taxi is
the ability to see. Suppose someone who is blind
applies to be a taxi driver. When they were not hired
could they subsequently file a lawsuit claiming
discrimination? Based on the idea of “essential
functions,” they could not. There is no
accommodation available that would allow someone who is
blind to safely drive a cab. Alternatively, though, if
that same company were hiring dispatchers, receptionists,
or a business manager, there would be a different
interpretation. Because with appropriate
accommodations, someone who is blind could most
certainly meet the essential functions
associated with those jobs. We also mentioned the idea of
reasonable accommodations. By definition, a
reasonable accommodation is any change in the work
environment or in the way a job is performed that enables a
person with a disability to enjoy equal
employment opportunities. These changes tend to
fall in three categories: changes to the
application process, changes to the work environment or the way a job
is usually done, and changes that enable an
employee with a disability to participate in training so as to have equal
benefits and privileges. The one thing though — and this is a very,
very critical point, because I think a lot of
people don’t know this or misunderstand this — to be protected
by the ADA, okay, the individual must
be able to perform the tasks with accommodation. The idea being that you as
an employer are not ever obligated to hire an
unqualified worker. I would also mention
when we talk about this idea of getting
accommodations that the individual
has to disclose. If you have a disability and anticipate the need for
a job-related accommodation, when do you describe
your disability? As with most of our topics, there are additional
resources available for you.>>Alex: When I apply for
a job, would I disclose? Yes, I think I
would disclose. Because my disability
is visible. And so I kind of want to — a lot of people know
that to begin with. And that way they’re not
shocked when they see me. That way I can kind of
limit the really good chances of getting a job from the people that, you know, might not want to hire me just because I
have a disability. It kind of saves
me some time. And it makes me feel
a lot less nervous when I am interviewing, because even though I am
seen in this wheelchair or with crutches, a lot of time people don’t
know what my disability is. So I think it’s good
for me to disclose. But I can understand if someone
had a hidden disability that they wouldn’t
want to disclose.>>Alex: I usually
disclose my disability beforehand before the
interview because of the need for the interpreter. Sometimes I don’t
disclose until the moment because I bring the
interpreter myself. It all depends on how
I feel, the attitude. Usually employers often if
they look at the ear, they don’t look at me. They just kind of look
at my broken ear, if you would. That’s why, that’s why that
exposure is necessary.>>Professor Long: Someone
else, on the other hand, who may have a mental illness
or learning disability, whatever it might be,
not necessarily. Right? You’re not going to know that. So the issue of disclosure
is a really big one. Because as an employer,
think about this, again, would you be more willing
— just gut level here. Not talking laws. But if somebody came in and
had an invisible disability and you had another applicant
who had no disability, and this person who had
that invisible disability, let’s say it’s a mental illness and they disclosed at the
outset of that interview, which of those two people would you be more
likely to hire? So in summary, the ADA
does provide employment access, but it doesn’t
mean that everybody is going to be hired simply
because they have a disability. You have to meet the
essential functions. And accommodations have
to be reasonable and not pose an undue hardship. We’ve got that
notion of thinking about the importance
of disclosure. Do you or do you not? Because unless you disclose, you are in no way
entitled to a disability. And then, finally, those
myths about the ADA that it’s going to be
incredibly expensive or that you’ve got to
accommodate everyone. Again, that’s not accurate. So we’ll close
this section. And as we move on to
our next segment, we’ll be talking about supports, strategies
and solutions.

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