That's the point! Every employer is in a specific situation, and lawyers are ready to pounce if they don't do everything according to the law. And the laws are now so complex, it's impossible to obey all of them. Exxon gave Joseph Hazelwood a job after he completed alcohol rehab; when Hazelwood then let the Exxon Valdez run aground, a jury found that he'd recklessly gotten drunk before taking command--and that the company had been reckless to give him the job. So then the company decided people who've had a drug or drinking problem may not hold safety-sensitive jobs. The result? You guessed it -- employees with a history of alcohol abuse sued under the ADA, demanding their right to hold safety-sensitive jobs. Employers can't win. They get sued if they do, sued if they don't.
What would the head of the EEOC say about that? Amazingly, he said, "That's an easy case." He claimed Exxon "illegally discriminated."
So Exxon should not have to pay billions of dollars for the Valdez spill?
Casellas answered, "Well, you know, that's another issue."
Not his problem.
Complicated laws like the ADA eventually hurt the people they were meant to help. The ADA has led many employers to avoid the disabled. One poll found that since the ADA was passed, the percentage of disabled men who were employed dropped. "Once you hire them, you can never fire them. They are lawsuit bombs," one employer said. "So we just tell them the job has been filled."
This unintended consequence of the ADA shouldn't have been a surprise. If you give some workers extra power to sue, those workers become potential "bombs," and some employers avoid them.
Politicians bragged that the ADA "fixed the discrimination problem." But what really happened is that lawyers got richer, and the disabled got fewer opportunities.
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