The Milwaukee school board didn’t violate federal disability laws by denying a promotion or reassignment to an educator whose doctor had told her to avoid “potentially unruly students” because of her knee problems, a federal appellate court held ( Brown v. Milwaukee Bd. of Sch. Dirs. , 2017 BL 149445, 7th Cir., No. 16-1971, 5/4/17 ).
A lower court had dismissed Sherlyn Brown’s claims as to one particular position. It ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t require employers to accommodate disabled workers by transferring them to a position that amounts to a promotion if they’re not the most qualified candidate. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit May 4 upheld that interpretation.
The former assistant principal had to have knee surgery after attempting to physically restrain a student. The school district tried to reassign Brown but disqualified her from most open positions because of the doctor’s restriction. One of the possible reassignments was a grant administrator position, but the district said Brown would have to lead meetings and be in schools in which students were present.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Lakisha Person applied for a customer care representative position online. After reviewing her application, Asurion telephoned Person to discuss her interest in and availability for a position at its Meridian location. According to the EEOC, when the Asurion interviewer learned that Person was paralyzed from the waist down, the interviewer abruptly ended the interview without inquiring into her skills and relevant work experience. Asurion rejected her for the position shortly thereafter, the EEOC said.
Failure to hire an individual because of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Asurion, LLC, Case No. 3:17-cv-00336-CWR-FKB) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Northern Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency's lawsuit seeks, among other things, instatement for Person with retroactive benefits, monetary damages, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.
"The ADA prohibits employers from refusing to hire qualified applicants based on myths, fears or stereotypes concerning certain impairments," said Delner Franklin-Thomas, director of the EEOC's Birmingham District Office, which has jurisdiction over Alabama, most of Mississippi and the panhandle of Florida. "The applicant in this case was extremely qualified and deserved the opportunity to be judged based on her abilities instead of her impairment."
The first time I started to think about my privilege as a disabled person was about six years ago, when I got worried about whether or not my college's disability services would provide me with housing accommodations. "Don't smile too much. Act serious. Otherwise, they won't believe that you're sick," my parents would say right before meetings with disability services. After spending years trying to understand what it means to be disabled, I've realized how deeply important it is for me to advocate for people with disabilities (PWD) and share my personal experiences of pain, confusion, and, ultimately, privilege.
Fifty-seven million individuals in the United States—about one in five in this country—have some form of disability. The numbers alone demonstrate that disability affects many families. It transcends gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, and political affiliation. Most people in this country either know someone living with a disability or themselves are disabled.