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Why Employers Should Never Be Afraid of Hiring Individuals with Disabilities

Even the kindest, most considerate employers may struggle with the idea of hiring individuals with disabilities.  This is not borne of animus or discriminatory intent, but rather a lack of information.  Many employers simply do not know how to properly manage an individual with a disability, so they worry that their inexperience may result in liability concerns.

  • Individuals with disabilities must be qualified: Some employers may worry that hiring individuals with disabilities will result in having to completely alter the essential functions of a job. This isn’t true.  Individuals with disabilities have a right to be considered for roles for which they are qualified, meaning they must meet legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that they seek, and they must be able to perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
  • Reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities is just that, reasonable: An accommodation is defined as any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.  The purpose of the accommodation is to remove workplace barriers for individuals with disabilities in a way that is reasonable to the employer and effective for the employee.  For example, an employer could accommodate an individual with a mobility impairment by installing a wheelchair ramp.  Another example could be moving break times for an individual with a disability that requires timely dosing of certain medications.  The law does not require employers to go to unreasonable lengths and under no circumstances are employers required to eliminate an essential function or lower a production standard to accommodate an individual with a disability.
  • Individuals With Disabilities Are GREAT Employees: Employers sometimes fall victim to the stereotypes and myths surrounding employing individuals with disabilities.  Disabled employees are NOT less productive, but rather will be incredibly grateful for the opportunity to show you how productive they can be.  Moreover, as long as you have properly documented the interactive process with an employee with a disability, you are absolutely allowed to hold that employee accountable if he or she does not satisfactorily perform the essential functions of the role.  The law does not require you to continue to employee any individual who cannot do this.

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