"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Spell it With Me Now ... A-C-C-O-M-M-O-D-A-T-I-O-N-S

For your human rights in employment education and entertainment today, I offer a little story about a pizza shop in Utah that had to pay out 'big dough' for failing to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee with Down Syndrome. 

Actually, from my (and perhaps your) point of view, it's even worse than your that - this wasn't just your garden variety failure to accommodate case - this particular employee had "happily did his job for more than five months with 'an independently employed and insured job coach* to assist him'.” 

Or, at least he had until an operating partner of the company saw him working with his coach, and ordered him fired.

Seriously? Some people companies people will never learn.

See, even though individuals with disabilities living in Utah do not have the benefit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (or, more particularly, sec. 15 thereof) or any of Canada's federal or provincial human rights legislation, they do (as do all residents of the US) have the benefit of the the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
The ADA is one of America's most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life -- to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services...

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.
Sound familiar?

However, unlike Canadians, Americans also have the benefit of the US' Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("the EEOC"). the organization that enforces the ADA in the employment context; meaning you bring your employment complaint to them and, if they think it is justified, they will sue the employer on your behalf. Making them, kind of, sort of like a human rights commission solely for employment issues.

At any rate, thanks to the fine work of the EEOC, Papa John's has not only 'agreed' to pay that employee damages in the amount of $125,000, but also to “review its equal employment opportunity policies, conduct training for management and human resources employees for its restaurants in Utah, and establish a new recruitment program for individuals with disabilities in Utah.”

The take-away(s) of the story for Papa John's (and all Canadian and American employers) is that

  • employers must provide "reasonable accommodations" to persons with disabilities and "engage in an interactive process to determine if an accommodation is reasonable yet not burdensome"; and
  • a long-term "independently employed and insured job coach" might just be a "reasonable accommodation" for a person with an intellectual disability.

Or, to put it another way, what he said:
“Employers must understand that they cannot refuse to provide an accommodation to individuals with intellectual disabilities. … Employers should embrace workers like Scott who work with such joy. I want employers to know that their obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation includes allowing a job coach at the workplace, if needed, absent undue hardship.”
* Which subject (that being "an independently employed and insured job coach to assist him") could be the subject of a blawg post all by itself, says she, as she continues to toil away at accessing funding for just such a beast for her own daughter.

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