Washington Enters Employee Selection

By Peak, Martha H. | Management Review, July 1991 | Go to article overview
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Washington Enters Employee Selection


Peak, Martha H., Management Review


Washington Enters Employee Selection

"I am convinced that I will spend the rest of my career representing companies sued under the Americans With Disabilities Act," a labor lawyer told me at AMA's Human Resources Conference held in Orlando, Fla., last April (see story page 58).

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George Bush last summer amid great hoopla. Its proponents believe that it will open office doors to mentally and physically handicapped people who previously had been barred from useful employment in America.

And so it will. But the ADA does more: It requires employers to offer "reasonable accommodations" to a person who is known to be disabled but who is qualified to handle the "essential functions" of a job. The employer is obligated to make such accommodations unless doing so would impose an "undue hardship." But just what is meant by this term is not made clear in the Act.

The ADA is the most far-reaching civil rights legislation of the past 25 years, but it's not the only one in the works in Washington. As we go to press, a new Civil Rights Act is being debated in Congress (see story page 15) that has made headlines because, the Administration claims, it will force employers to use demographic quotas in its hiring decisions. Bush believes that employers will deter discrimination claims only by hiring "by the numbers."

One thing is clear: No employer will want to bear the burden of an EEOC investigation and subsequent discrimination suit if the Civil Rights Act becomes law.

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