ADMS 3450 Chapter Notes - Chapter 143450: Triple Jeopardy, Multiple Sclerosis, Reasonable Accommodation

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11 Sep 2014
Physical and mental disability: Chapter 14 ADMS 3450 438
Current beliefs about people with disabilities that they are : incompetent, unable to work,
and to be feared--are similar to those that have existed throughout history.
People who could not walk were carried about and had to beg for a living; people with
leprosy were banished from villages and towns.
Schools for the blind and deaf isolated children with sensory impairments from other
children, much as segregated schools separated children by race.
Words like cripple, deaf and dumb, crazy, and retard reflect commonly held perceptions
about the abilities of those with physical or mental disabilities and are reminders of the
power of language.
Roosevelt, a paraplegic due to polio he contracted as an adult, advocated that
governments and individuals should play a role in helping people with disabilities to
obtain the best assistance and care possible.
The express purpose of the ADA is "to provide a clear and convincing national mandate
for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities, (and to) provide
clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards for addressing discrimination against
individuals with disabilities."
One important difference between the ADA and its precursor, the RA, is that in addition
to prohibiting discrimination, the RA requires the federal government to take affirmative
action for the hiring, placement, and advancement of people with disabilities.
The ADA prohibits private employers and state and local governments having fifteen or
more employees for twenty or more weeks per year, employment agencies, and labor
unions from discriminating against qualified persons in employment matters such as
hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and job training, and other terms, conditions,
and privileges of employment.
Federal employees are covered under the RA; because the acts are substantially similar
in purpose and definitions.
Under the ADA, a person with a disability is one who has a physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of
such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment.
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Physical impairment: is any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic
disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting at least one of the body's systems (i.e.,
neurological, musculoskeletal, sensory, respiratory, cardiovascular, or others).
Impairment could also be any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental
retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning
A person is considered substantially limited when he or she is unable to per- form one
or more "major life activities" or is significantly restricted in the manner or length of
performance of major life activities that most people in the population can perform.
Major life activities: are such things as personal care, manual tasks, walking, seeing,
speaking, hearing, breathing, learning, and working.
Job applicants or employees who have or have a history of these impairments are
covered under the ADA, and even those who have erroneously classified as having a
substantially limiting impairment.
Perceptions about physical and mental impairment are particularly significant when
attempting to address employment discrimination and are particularly relevant to the
study of diversity in organizations.
If someone is perceived to have a disability or perceived as unable to perform a job
because of disability, the person comes under the provisions of the ADA, regardless of
whether the perceptions are accurate.
These strong statements speak to the pervasiveness of the perceptions that
people with disabilities are incapable of successful work performance and
recognize that what people believe about others, whether or not accurate, affects
how those others are treated.
The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, passed in September 2008,
emphasizes that the definition of disabilities should be construed broadly and should not
generally require extensive examination.
The (ADA): expands the meaning of "major life activities" to include activities that had
not been recognized in the past and makes clear that an episodic impairment, such as
multiple sclerosis, or one in remission, such as cancer, is a disability if it would
substantially limit a major life activity when active.
Essential and Marginal Functions:
How does an organization know if an applicant with a disability is qualified?
A qualified person is one who can perform the essential functions of the job in question,
with or without a reasonable accommodation. Essential functions are those that are the
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basis for the existence of a job; if these functions were not required, there would be no
need for the job.
What are the most important things that an applicant should be able to do?
Marginal functions are those that are secondary to the job; the applicant often does
them, but even if they are not performed, the job would still be required.
A qualified applicant or employee must be able to perform the essential, but not
marginal, functions, with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Much impairment generally has little effect on applicants' or employees' ability to work; it
is the fear of incurring costs in the future that result in illegal employer actions.
Attempts to minimize future medical costs by not hiring people with disabilities are
prohibited by the ADA, and, as in the Phillips Edison case, can wind up costing the
employer even more.
The potential for employee illness is a risk and cost of doing business and employers
should not attempt to minimize it through illegal discrimination.
Reasonable Accommodations:
A reasonable accommodation is one that the employer can implement to enable the
qualified person to perform essential job functions without causing undue hardship to
the employer.
If providing an accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense relative to
the employer's size, financial resources, and/or the nature and structure of the
organization, then the employer would face undue hardship and would not have to
provide the accommodation.
Undue hardship varies by employer; what is reason- able for a large, multinational
corporation may be undue hardship for a fifty-member local firm with limited
revenues, profits, and employees.
As with other equal opportunity legislation, the purpose is to reduce discrimination
against, and increase employment opportunities for, persons and groups historically
excluded, without unduly burdening employers in doing so.
An additional point about making reasonable accommodations to enable people with
disabilities to work is that managers often do so for people without disabilities, without
thought or fanfare. Allowing an employee who is a student to tailor his or her work
schedule around classes is a reasonable accommodation.
Accommodating employees (whether they have a disability or not) is often easy and
inexpensive, generates goodwill, and increases retention and productivity.
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