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Tyri0n
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29 Mar 2013, 4:47 pm

The Obama White House has a nice petition system that has actually worked in some cases. Sometimes, petitions actually get noticed. In fact, my sister participated in one protesting the abolishment of military tuition assistance under sequester, and guess what? It worked!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/2 ... 74578.html

I'd like to make a petition asking the Obama White House to make changes to the EEOC guidelines that would provide greater protection for individuals with "invisible disabilities"; these could include ADHD, Asperger's, NLD, and many others. Specifically, I'd like some thing reasonable that would fit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as updated in 2008, but also something that addresses the problem of HR's firing or refusing to hire neurologically disabled persons for reasons related to their disability.

I know this is going to encounter lots of skepticism, so let me emphasize it again, this is NOT going to cure the problem. The hope, however, is that it would change corporate behavior at least a little bit and maybe even open up the possibility for lawsuits in the most egregious cases.

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Here are some possibilities:

1. Companies of a certain size must require new managers and HR personnel to undergo 1 hour of "Autism sensitivity training" (or, better, word it in a way that would include other things besides autism).

2. Companies must establish clear and transparent procedures for hiring and firing due to appearance, personality, or vibe (find a better way to word this) which are clearly communicated to all new employees, managers, and HR personnel in writing.

3. Companies of a certain size are required to have a designated disability specialist who specializes in mental and neurological disabilities [or whatever terms we want to use]


Please send me your ideas for what should be in this petition. Are one of these three a good idea, or some combination of them, or something totally different?



AgentPalpatine
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29 Mar 2013, 6:33 pm

You would know more than I of adminstrative law, but would'nt such a change of EEOC's powers require congressional action?


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Tyri0n
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29 Mar 2013, 7:01 pm

AgentPalpatine wrote:
You would know more than I of adminstrative law, but would'nt such a change of EEOC's powers require congressional action?


It's not a change in its powers. Congress has already prohibited discrimination of the type that regularly occurs via the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The problem is, employers are not on notice that their behavior is illegal and unacceptable.

Since the EEOC is under the executive branch, the President absolutely could induce them to amend their guidelines to "suggest" that employers institute autism sensitivity training for HR personnel and managers (for example). No more "this person's creepy and makes me uncomfortable" any more than "this person's creepy prosthetic leg makes me uncomfortable" -- which everyone knows is unacceptable already. They could still find other reasons not to hire people or to fire people, but not everyone is a bad person. With autism sensitivity training (or some other thing), they would at least be aware that disabilities can manifest themselves in these ways.

The EEOC guidelines are suggestions for employers, not actual requirements; however, an employer's failure to follow them is strong evidence in an employment discrimination lawsuit that sometimes alone can swing the case in favor of the plaintiff.



aghogday
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30 Mar 2013, 6:33 am

Tyri0n wrote:
AgentPalpatine wrote:
You would know more than I of adminstrative law, but would'nt such a change of EEOC's powers require congressional action?


It's not a change in its powers. Congress has already prohibited discrimination of the type that regularly occurs via the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The problem is, employers are not on notice that their behavior is illegal and unacceptable.

Since the EEOC is under the executive branch, the President absolutely could induce them to amend their guidelines to "suggest" that employers institute autism sensitivity training for HR personnel and managers (for example). No more "this person's creepy and makes me uncomfortable" any more than "this person's creepy prosthetic leg makes me uncomfortable" -- which everyone knows is unacceptable already. They could still find other reasons not to hire people or to fire people, but not everyone is a bad person. With autism sensitivity training (or some other thing), they would at least be aware that disabilities can manifest themselves in these ways.

The EEOC guidelines are suggestions for employers, not actual requirements; however, an employer's failure to follow them is strong evidence in an employment discrimination lawsuit that sometimes alone can swing the case in favor of the plaintiff.


Reasonable Accommodations associated with the ADA and the agency that enforces the law, the EEOC, are determined on a case by case basis, depending on the unique accommodations that each individual may require.

The EEOC has defined Asperger's under the general umbrella of the term Autism, in US code associated with the ADA, in a list of conditions that consistently result in assessment under the definition of disability under the ADA. However, assessment of disability is still required on a case by case basis, regardless of label of condition/disorder.

The EEOC provides general guidelines for employers for any type of condition that may be assessed as a disability under the ADA. The agency cannot provide guidelines for any specific disorder/condition, as the needs for accommodation vary differently on a case by case basis.

If the agency were to do this, in a general way specific to any one condition/disorder, the suggestions/guidelines offered might be positive to one individual diagnosed with autism, for example, and negative to another, depending on specific needs for accommodation.

This is the problem with any emphasis on disability specific rights per any condition or disorder, as the laws protect all individuals assessed with disabilities equally regardless of specific label of disorder or condition.

Part of why self advocacy is important, is that usually a person with what may be observed as an "invisible disability", must advocate for themselves to gain assistance under the ADA.

It often takes extensive education too, on a case by case basis, for an employer to understand the unique symptoms of ASD's, that vary greatly among each individual. For instance, it could be a sensory issue, a social issue, or a general communication issue, depending on the needs of the accommodation of each individual.

The sensory issues, are hard for some people to empathize with as there is often no point of reference of understanding what that is like, for one that has never experienced it.

It is a similar issue with Fibromyalgia, and auto-immune system difficulties, as that type of associated pain, cannot be easily understood by one that has not experienced it with these type of disabilities that are also often invisible to other people.

I suppose a simple way to describe it is that one size does not fit all for any disorder, condition that is assessed as disability under the ADA.

It is big help though that Autism is listed among the list of disorders in US code that are consistently assessed as disability under the ADA. Fibromyalgia and many other conditions/disorders are not listed and very difficult to gain accommodation for, even with legal assistance.

It was only fairly recently that the EEOC clarified that Asperger's falls under the umbrella of Autism in US Code. Before this is was very difficult for some to gain any protection at all under the ADA, who were diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. There is still a record of some of the associated court cases than can be easily located with a Google search.

And finally, the government and/or the legal system cannot legislate or mandate personal acceptance by others. That is an issue specific to the ethics of each individual that can be influenced by almost an unlimited number of variables in life.

Reasonable accommodation and protection under the law against discrimination based on disability, on a case by case basis, is all the law can enforce within practical limits.

The acceptance issue is also determined on a case by case basis, per each individual's personal preference of ethics.

I occasionally hear people suggest they are going to demand acceptance from society, because it is their right, but that is not a right protected by either state or federal constitutional law. The law cannot consistently enforce a personal preference of ethics, even if there could be an attempt at it. Not even if a person is chained and whipped.

We can only hope that people continue to be taught some type of standard of ethics, in acceptance of others with differences, from the time they are small children. Very often one cannot even find that in religious institutions.

And certainly not in the media, which heavily influences human behavior, usually based on whatever sells at the moment. Usually it is sex, which also can make it difficult for women to be accepted based on their humanity, rather than a fetish of pleasure.

The government could censor some of that I suppose, but it is not currently something that is viewed in alignment with constitutional law, in the US. And probably will not be, as that genie has been released from the bottle on the internet and is not likely going back into captivity.

Non-acceptance is part of the price of liberty.


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marshall
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08 Apr 2013, 4:21 pm

The problem is I don't see how these laws can be enforced. If someone wants to fire you in most cases they don't even have to provide a reason, and even if they do they can just make some crap up anyways. It just seems like one of those areas where the culture has to change. As long as we live in a corporate world that operates on the principle of social darwinism I don't see things getting better.



DVCal
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09 Apr 2013, 12:14 am

What about for employers who are tricked into hiring junk. Often an employer will hire an employee, only to have them later give a list of ridiculous "accommodations", these employees turn out to be junk, and the employer is stuck with them or risk getting sued for "discrimination".

Not saying most or all aspies are like this, most aren't, but some are. Same with other disabled people.



Last edited by DVCal on 09 Apr 2013, 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

Tyri0n
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09 Apr 2013, 12:43 am

marshall wrote:
The problem is I don't see how these laws can be enforced. If someone wants to fire you in most cases they don't even have to provide a reason, and even if they do they can just make some crap up anyways. It just seems like one of those areas where the culture has to change. As long as we live in a corporate world that operates on the principle of social darwinism I don't see things getting better.


The idea would be to require employers to subject managers and HR personnel to sensitivity training. If they cover their asses by doing this, then yes, they can still fire people. If they do not comply, then they are at real risk of being sued. If they do comply, maybe there would be fewer misunderstandings.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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11 Apr 2013, 11:43 pm

Tyri0n wrote:
. . . They could still find other reasons not to hire people or to fire people, but not everyone is a bad person. With autism sensitivity training (or some other thing), they would at least be aware that disabilities can manifest themselves in these ways. . .

I think this is a good medium expectation, and maybe more than just medium if we get lucky.

Along a similar line, I like the idea of small groups of Spectrum advocates, say three or four persons, first engaging in permission sales through email and phone calls, and then visiting HR departments. And challenging them, hey, you folks are really missing an opportunity by not being more open to hiring people on the Spectrum. And maybe trying to visit the same HR department every six months or so and keeping after them.



aghogday
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13 Apr 2013, 6:59 am

Tyri0n wrote:
marshall wrote:
The problem is I don't see how these laws can be enforced. If someone wants to fire you in most cases they don't even have to provide a reason, and even if they do they can just make some crap up anyways. It just seems like one of those areas where the culture has to change. As long as we live in a corporate world that operates on the principle of social darwinism I don't see things getting better.


The idea would be to require employers to subject managers and HR personnel to sensitivity training. If they cover their asses by doing this, then yes, they can still fire people. If they do not comply, then they are at real risk of being sued. If they do comply, maybe there would be fewer misunderstandings.


In someways that already exists in government agencies. In working for the government there is requirements for similar sensitivity training for the acceptance of others with differences in the workplace, and stiff penalties for not abiding by the personnel regulations.

The country is going further and further in the direction of hire at will and fire at will. Government employment is still somewhat of a haven for those with differences, but I also see that becoming more difficult to find in the government and private sector. The country is moving away from any security in employment for anyone with or without differences.

The driving force behind all of this is increasing advancements in technology, and efficiencies in the workplace where humans are no longer needed. In particular communication technology that is effectively making the world smaller, as a place where everyone is in effect competing for the next loaf of bread, on a global basis.

There does not appear to be any turning back, unless there is some cataclysmic global event.


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