Labor Violation That Involves Failure to Accommodate for Disability

Published: 26th June 2009
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Kells vs Sinclair Buick-GMC Truck



Larry Kells, 50, was a car salesman suffering from a degenerative disease called muscular dystrophy that weakens skeletal muscles and limits his motor skills. Because of this condition, he asked his company, Sinclair Buick-GMC Truck, Inc., to provide him reasonable accommodations such as ramp inside the building, canopy-covered parking space, and cart to allow him to navigate the premise easily.



Instead of giving him disability accommodation, which is a constitutional right, Kells was demoted and subsequently terminated from his position. When he asked for an explanation, his superiors told him he was "useless" and "cannot keep up with other employees because of his age and disability."



After his termination, Kells filed a lawsuit against his company over wrongful demotion, harassment, discrimination based on disability and age, and constructive discharge.



Failure to Accommodate for Disability



According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), employers must provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified worker who has disability unless such adjustment will interfere with the business's operation. Failing to do so will make them liable to employment discrimination which violates ADA.



It is also considered a form of discrimination if employers will impose adverse action (e.g. undue hardship, termination, demotion) against a disabled individual to avoid giving him reasonable accommodation.



Meanwhile, if an employer makes certain accommodations and it takes a longer time to finish such adjustment and modifications, a disabled individual cannot file discrimination lawsuit against his employer who made an effort to provide disability accommodation.



According to ADA, reasonable accommodations for disabled workers include:



1. Providing facilities such as wheelchair ramp and lift which can be used by disabled employees.

2. Making certain adjustment in work schedule and job assignments.

3. Modifying equipment (e.g. Braille computers, devices with text-to-speech technology) and providing training materials that will allow disabled employees to work without undue hardship.



Qualification Standards for Hiring Workers



Employers covered by ADA must not impose selection criteria that aim to exclude people with disabilities and impairments.



According to employment lawyers, selection criteria such as interview questions, rating systems, physical tests, psychological tests, education, work experience, and paper tests should measure an individual's job qualification but not screen out disabled people.



In addition, employers can turn down an application of a disabled person when his condition interferes with his responsibilities and work assignments. As long as selection criteria are job-related, employers will not be held liable for employment discrimination.



Workers without disability but do not meet the employers' medical or physical requirements such as height, looks, voice, body-built are not covered by ADA since this Act still allows companies to make its own hiring policies and practices to choose individuals who are suited for the job.



ADA Statistics



The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which oversees ADA reported that nearly 19,500 discrimination cases were filed in 2008. Out of this figure, more than 15,700 have been resolved which allowed aggrieved individuals to recover $57.2 million monetary benefits from their erring employers.


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