Disability Discrimination in Employment
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Medical conditions do not make anyone deprived of the protection of the law. A disabled person may have a mental or physical problem that to a large extent prevents him or her from carrying out some major life activities, such as talking, walking, hearing, seeing or learning. A disability can also be related to the consequences of some disease. For example, a person, who has suffered from cancer, can get the one. Lastly, people are disabled, if they are believed to have some mental or physical impairments that are not temporary and may last up to six months (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2001). All employers should offer jobs to qualified people with disabilities together with reasonable accommodation, unless the latter would lead “to undue hardships” for business operations.
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Reasonable accommodation includes modifying or obtaining devices and equipment in the workplace. It ensures that disabled employees can work comfortably without straining to learn how to use the already existing equipment. The employer should also ensure that the facilities used by employees can easily be accessed even by people with disabilities. It is also important to modify or adjust policies, training materials, and exams to fit disabled people. Job restructuring can also be an example of reasonable accommodation. It can be done through changing work schedules and making the job part-time. Lastly, employers should provide qualified interpreters or readers to assist disabled people. Undue hardships occur in a situation, where providing reasonable accommodation is too expensive for the employer. The latter should consult qualified persons to know what accommodation is the most suitable. It also depends on the size of a business. It would be very difficult for small businesses to offer some type of accommodation, such as very expensive equipment.
Nowadays, companies employ people, who face pysical challenges through the use of reasonable accommodation. Adventist Health Care is a non-profit organization located in Rockville that employs even physically challenged people to provide health-care services to the surrounding community, cancer patients, heart-attack victims, and premature babies. The center has employed people with disabilities to work within its premises and makes them feel important and not neglected. It has made reasonable accommodation possible for employees with disabilities, and ensures that they are at ease in the working environment. The organization protects such people according to the law governing the treatment of disabled people (Burgdorf, 1995).
The law protecting disabled persons prohibits discrimination against them in terms of employment, and includes hiring, promotions, job assignments, layoffs, fringe benefits, and training. It ensures that these people are not subjected to harsh working conditions. Adventist Health Care maintains that it is illegal to treat the disabled in a negative way. According to the law, harassment includes the use of offensive remarks in a way that it creates an uncomfortable working environment. A harasser can be a supervisor, clients or customers, and sometimes co-workers.
All employers are supposed to employ people by merit and not by their physical characteristics. After employing, the former are supposed to make reasonable accommodation for the disabled. Adventist Health Care has done the following in regard with this issue: it has provided interpreters and qualified learners to assist people with medical conditions. Second, it has ensured that there are enough wheelchairs in its premises. Third, buildings have been modified for easy access on the part of physically challenged people, for example, elevators have been installed. Lastly, the center has equipment, which can be easily used by the disabled.
Inncluding the disabled in all aspects of life gives them a sense of belonging. It makes them feel that they are an important part of society. They are human beings, who deserve better treatment and to be happy, rather than just to be teased through the use of offensive language. People should not be judged by their physical condition at work, but by their qualification. They are talented and can provide service or perform tasks according to the employers’ expectations, if reasonable accommodation is ensured to make them work in a comfortable environment.
The failure to involve them in daily activities may lead to fatal consequences. Cases have been reported, where the physically challenged resort to drug abuse as a way of relieving stress (Disability Rights Center, 1980). Some of them develop lifestyle diseases, such as depression because of discrimination. Others acquire anti-social behaviors, because they have been discriminated during childhood. Parents should always encourage and take care of their physically challenged children. Some decide to “hide” their children at home, once they discover that they have a disability, which is very bad. They should be taken to rehabilitation centers, where such children are taught and can develop their talents. Instilling confidence in them is important to make them accept their physical conditions.
In conclusion, a disability is not an inability. The disabled do not only have talents, but extraordinary skills, which must be developed. They should always be appreciated in everything that they do to instill confidence in them. Employers should not look at physical conditions of people, but consider their qualifications. They should also provide reasonable accommodation at workplaces to enable the disabled to work in a comfortable environment. Lastly, people should avoid any offensive language, when addressing them, but rather use encouraging words.
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