Combating Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities

In America we have developed a complex competitive environment based upon what we consider are the norms of a developed society. As a member of this developed social fabric, you are expected to present yourself as a productive member of society. Unfortunately for some people there have been long standing impediments, which prevent those with disabilities to prove their worth and place in society. Disability discrimination is a form of discrimination that is aimed against those with a physical or mental disability.

This form of discrimination isn’t always noticed and can occur in numerous settings including employment, housing, or public facilities. A public facility is described as any location that accommodates the public, such as a restaurant, movie theatre, or sports stadium. Under the “Americans with Disabilities Act” public locations are required are required to allow equal access to the disabled. As a group we feel that discrimination in any form cannot be tolerated, and that everyone should be treated equally including those with disabilities.

During our research one of the areas of focus was the discrimination of the mentally ill. Early on it became quite apparent that there were numerous involving companies discriminating and or taking advantage of an innocent disabled person. One case that I found particularly interesting was Tormenting the Mentally Ill: A Case of Disability Discrimination, a case by Ricardo A. Guarnero which works in the law offices. The case explains in detail how one man named James, was subjected to the stress and pressures of wartime service in Vietnam, and how he struggled to keep his emotions together.

This man was exposed to combat duty for 3 years, under the extreme wartime conditions which Vietnam posed for all U. S. soldiers at that time. Unfortunately as a result of this experience there would be a lot of emotional outbreaks later on that would result in depression and a series of unfortunate events which triggered mental/psychiatric disorders including major depression, disassociation, anxiety, panic attacks and recurrence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from childhood traumas.

In 1997, James was experiencing attendance problems at his job, after having a pretty successful career which allowed him to climb from an entry-level position to upper management. Throughout the previous years, he had experienced some major setbacks to include: flashbacks of combat and the experience the he and his colleagues encountered during the war. The reoccurring memories lead to growing psychological issues that he began to struggle with controlling. In addition other traumatic experiences such as watching his father and sister die from a violent death contributed to his out of control behavior.

James was forced to inform his supervisor that he has under “extreme stress” due to all the personal issues and requested reasonable accommodations for his mental disability. James’ supervisors began a campaign of harassment that drove James to the edge of his sanity. The plain and simple motive for the supervisor’s action was unadulterated ignorance of mental illness and a stereotyped view of crazy people. (Guarnero, 2000) Guarnero had helped James file a complaint to the federal court for the violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, The Federal Sector equivalent of the ADA and an attendant motion for injunctive relief.

Along with that complaint the therapist that was working with James had helped because he was horrified by the level of maltreatment James endured. Together they compiled a list of eighty-three exhibits detailing the treatment meted out by the agency. The therapist and Guernero had both talked to the court to order the agency to put James back to work. In effect, they were asking the Court to determine within weeks of filing the complaint that we would likely win this case. This case was really interesting and ended with favorable results.

James, who was a disabled vet, won his discrimination case and had to be compensated for his losses. He was re-assigned to a more responsive supervisor with protection. He received an attractive amount for his damages including: full back-pay, medical costs, attorney’s fees and costs. The whole litigation took under three months from filing of the complaint and ultimately resulted in a resolution that likely saved James Colby’s life and upheld the right to be free of invidious discrimination. Another interesting case involving the federal courts handing down a ruling on Monday, December 27, 2010.

The Justice Department granted $1. 25 million judgment against Warren Properties Inc. , Warren Village Limited Partnership and Frank R. Warren because of an allegation by the defendant that the above mentioned entities violated the Fair Housing Act. Apparently they had refused a tenant’s demand for an adequate place to stay. This was the biggest resolution that had ever been obtained in an individual discrimination case. A tenant had wanted a closer room at the bottom of their 196-unit apartment complex, on the ground floor.

The tenant had also suffered injuries by falling down the stairs after they had brought the problem up to the defendants. The tenant won the case, getting paid $1,295,000 in compensation with another $55,000 to cover legal fees. The court required that the defendants had to hire a person accommodations facilitator. The accommodations facilitator was needed to insure that all of the reasonable accommodations requests were properly handled. More than eleven thousand housing units in eighty-five other properties that were managed by Warren Properties Inc. in fifteen states needed to be handled.

Defendants were also ordered to take fair house training, take on a non-discrimination policy, comply with notice, monitor and report all of the above requirements to the proper government entities. This lawsuit was first initiated by the tenant with HUD(Housing and Urban Development).

Then HUD conducted an investigation and found the complaint to be valid and recommended that the complaint be heard in court. Under the law “Persons with disabilities have a right to the reasonable accommodations they need to function and live as others do,” said John Trasvina, Department of Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

“Denying them that right violates the Fair Housing Act and HUD and the Department of Justice are committed to ensuring that property owners meet their responsibility to comply with the law. ” Moving from the “HUD”One source is from the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) itself and another is from a more individual source of a woman who was not given appropriate accommodations for her job at PETCO, which forced her resignation. First, we will go into the PETCO file, as this one may be more understandable for those who here about it, as it is more personal.

“Disability Discrimination Case Results in $145,000 for Deaf Woman” is the line that caught my eye while browsing the web. Looking through the article, we find that a woman named Buchner with an auditory disability was hired by the PETCO chain to work as a pet stylist in 2001, with more than thirty years of experience as a pet groomer. The article continues on to say that the company knew going in that the woman in question has been deaf since birth, and agreed to make accommodations for her disability.

Managers reached an agreement to have other employees help schedule appointments for her since she could not use a telephone. A certain manager simply refused to further accommodate this employee, stopping the scheduling of appointments for her despite her disability and the specific requests of customers. It was also believed that the other employees followed suit, going so far as to tell other customers that she (Buchner) no longer worked at the store. “Buchner was subsequently penalized during employment for reviews for ineffective communication.

She eventually resigned from her job in 2006. ” The lawsuit says that she sued because PETCO failed to provide the required accommodation for her disability, and subjected her to “disparate treatment” because of that disability. Once all was said and done, PETCO not only paid the fee for the lawsuit, but also” instituted a company policy to provide more training to employees and staff to protect against future disability discrimination claims. As part of the agreement, PETCO will submit reports to the EEOC to track complaints and responses to disability claims.”

In the end the case worked out but it cost a woman five years of discriminatory treatment in her life while working in order for anything to be achieved towards such change. The following three cases are summarizations of other discrimination injustices contained in the EEOC file mentioned above. These cases were filed by the EEOC supporting three individuals with three distinct disabilities; one with diabetes, one with cancer, and another with severe arthritis.

The EEOC also recently brought to Congress’ attention that disability is more or less behaving in a “splitting hairs” manner. Congress implemented the ADA Amendment Act in order to make the definition of disability both “broad and straightforward. ” As a side-note the EEOC filings do not contain allotted winnings for the court cases; possibly to protect those involved but this is only speculation. Our first case we will look at is one Fern Strickland, a long-time employee who requested an accommodation in the form of a stool for her case of severe arthritis.

Understandably, the company took to it and provided the accommodation. After seven years without incident, however, a new district manager came into the area and decided that the company would no longer support her disability. From the EEOC’s investigation before the suit, the manager stated that he “did not like the idea” that Fern used a stool; a classic portrayal of an employee who is jealous of one who sits in a chair while at work, or one who discriminates against those with undue hardships.

“The suit claims that she was terminated several weeks later because of the manager’s failure to accommodate her disability. ” The second article from the EEOC shows us a case where the company “Fisher, Collins & Carter” fired two of their employees, Robert Gray and Wayne Seifert, because of diabetes and hypertension. From reading, the company “asked Robert Gray and Wayne Seifert and other employees to complete a questionnaire regarding their health conditions and medications.

” Robert had been working for the company for fifteen years and had just recently (at the time of the article) been promoted from rodman to party chef for his work – Wayne has been a rodman since 2000. The case continued to say that while both employees had remarkable performance in their areas (hence the retention of the employees up till that date and the promotion of Robert), both were selected for a “reduction-in-force” on January 21, 2009 for their disabilities while “retaining less qualified, non-disabled employees.

” Our final article has to deal with a company named IPC Print services that fired one of their employees, Derek Nelson of ten years in the company (machinist), rather than allow him to work part-time to complete his therapy; Derek Nelson took medical leave to be treated for cancer with chemotherapy, and wanted to work part-time most likely because chemotherapy can be quite taxing on the body (my own family members have gone through such; it is frightening to see the results).

The company shows that in 2009 when Derek tried to continue to work part-time for IPC, IPC discharged him on the grounds of him “exceeding the maximum hours of leave allowed under company policy. That decision, the agency contends, violated IPC’s obligation to reasonably accommodate Nelson’s disability. ” In short; IPC looked for an excuse to be rid of an employee that they perceived to be a liability because of treatment he was going under for cancer – again, in short, discrimination. The first case we looked at, Buchner at PETCO, received $145,000 for her treatment at the hands of discriminatory co-workers.

In these last three articles, they are marked as being done on September 9th, 2010 – court cases tend to take a great deal of time to finish, so it is likely that the cases will continue on late into the year as “in progress. ” We also chose to interview and question a corporate manager on their current discrimination policies. Ken McManus, Jr. , who is manager of Aldi’s in Woodridge, New York was interviewed via telephone and gave a summery on Aldi’s discrimination policy, conflict form of discrimination, and the outcome of such discrimination in their workforce field as a discount retail store.

During the interview Ken was asked what discrimination policies are Aldi’s as a discount retail concerned with. He responded, “First of all, all staff members are expected to abide any sexual or racial harassment under any circumstances. We offer equal treatment and opportunities to all employees or job applicants. If one staff member discriminates against another employee or even a customer, Aldi’s will be liable to a summary dismissal under Aldi’s disciplinary action. We had an example in the case of Barkley E. Sample, who is a manager of an African Ancestory in 1995.

Instead of Sample being recommended for promotion, Kim Karrick, a white district supervisor, was promoted instead of Sample. As a result, Sample was fired and he then filed charge of racial discrimination with EEOC. However the EEOC, declined Sample and issued a right-to-sue letter. Sample was denied evidence was proved nondiscriminatory. ” Then I asked Ken, “Isn’t the big issue with Aldi’s involved section 12 with a new Compliance Manual on “Religious Discrimination” focusing under Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964? ” He reacted, “Yes.

As a matter of fact some charges of religious discrimination can raise multiple claims that Aldi’s has to be very protective. And Title VII requires employees to accommodate to only those religious beliefs that are “sincerely” held. If the respondent disputes that their belief is “sincerely held”, evidence is relevant and might not be subject to reasonable accommodation because the practice is engaged in secular reasons like a Seventh – day Adventist employee follows a vegetarian diet because she believes that it is religiously prescribed by a scriptural passage is an unreasonable accommodation.

But I decide not to hire a described evangelical Christian, then religion is based on the meaning of Title VII. ” I had to ask him, “Isn’t there a policy for someone who has been placed on a stolen record not to enter your Aldi’s? ” He said. “No, there isn’t and we have gotten in trouble for doing so. In Selby, North Yorshire, an Aldi’s manager said it was company policy to ban younger teens from a store who has stolen in the past. It is discrimination.

But it is a consideration of all customers that children under the age of 16 be accompanied by an adult when entering the store. And again, it is not a national policy in Aldi’s. ” I said, “Isn’t it true that a customer can make a complaint about Aldi’s poor food quality and still not be called discrimination? ” He regretted, “Even though customers do have complaints all they can do is let us know that they are a dis satisfied customer. ” We both agreed that because of Aldi’s discrimination policies, there hasn’t been one lawsuit they haven’t won.

In closing, the research conducted clearly suggests that disability discrimination remains an important impedance contributing to limited opportunities and unfair treatment in employment, housing, consumer markets, health care, and numerous other areas. While it is difficult to quantify the degree to which the undue hardships can be explained by discrimination, the high frequency of such stories suggests that the impact is substantial. There is a lot that we can learn from the stories of the disabled. Very little research on disability discrimination has been conducted.

In addition more research is needed particularly in urban contexts where divisions of race, class, culture, income and racial dynamics between groups might contribute to a rather complex pattern of discrimination which very well may extend beyond our classical societal distinctions. It is also quite apparent that corporate entities allocate sizeable thought and resources to protect themselves from discrimination and liability claims often using covert, indirect, and ambiguous in there discrimination policy. All of this leads to a gross underestimate of those being subjected to these injustices .

References ASLME. (2004). Disability Discrimination Cases . Retrieved from Pain and The Law: http://www. painandthelaw. org/entitlements/disability_cases. php Disability Rights Advocates. (2000-2011). National Federation of the Blind v. Target. Retrieved from Disability Rights Advocates: http://www. dralegal. org/cases/private_business/nfb_v_target. php#details Guarnero, R. A. (2000, July). Tormenting the Mentally Ill: A Case of Disability Discrimination. Retrieved from Expert Law: http://www. expertlaw. com/library/employment/mentally_ill.

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