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Discrimination, Experience and the ADA

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people from discrimination in the job market if they happen to have a disability. However, demonstrating this discrimination can sometimes be difficult. Since the ADA doesn’t require that employers give preference to people who have disabilities, how can you prove that’s the reason you were passed over for a job? A recent case in Denver shows how it can play out.

The Case

The Hertz car rental company actively recruited Norman “Dan” Newton after they noticed his resume online. He’d sold cars for 10 years and came in for an interview with the company. However, the sales manager noticed that he used a cane and expressed concern that it could impact his mobility. Despite his experience, Hertz informed Newton that they’d decided to hire two other applicants instead. He later determined that these applicants both had significantly less experience than he did, and one hadn’t even sold cars before.

As a result, Newton contacted the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EOCC), who filed a lawsuit on his behalf. In April of 2018, the court ruled in his favor and ordered Hertz to pay $45,000, apologize to him, and create policies that will prevent this kind of disability discrimination in the future.

Your Rights

If you have a disability that significantly impacts your life or have a history of such impairment, then the ADA protects you in all activities related to employment. These include applying for a job, promotions, recruitment, benefits, leave, dismissal, compensation and other job matters. If you can perform the essential functions of the job and have the relevant skill and experience, then an employer can’t make decisions based on your disability alone. Employers must also provide reasonable accommodations to help you do your job if you need it.

Unfortunately, many employers ignore these rules or don’t know about them to begin with, so disability-based discrimination is much more common than it should be. Even with these protections, the exact line of what counts as reasonable and who counts as qualified can be difficult to determine. However, the legal footwork involved is worth it. Everyone deserves to work if they can.

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