Dear HR Executive:
“You’re too ugly for this job.”
According to the EEOC, that’s more or less what a manager at Extra Space Management, a storage facility in Gaithersburg, MD, said.
The EEOC, which sued the company for disability discrimination in the workplace, said an area manager met with the employee – who'd been scarred by a house fire – and noticed he was “handicapped, deformed, or something.” It was clear, the manager sagely opined, that the employee, a maintenance worker, “can’t get the job done.”
Obviously this ended badly for the company. It paid $95,000 to settle the suit, and agreed to institute comprehensive ADA training for employees and managers.
You might want to pass along this case to your managers, as a reminder that disability discrimination doesn’t just involve job candidates who are in a wheelchair, or blind, or deaf, or other obvious disabilities. And it doesn’t even turn on the question of whether something like facial scarring is even a “real” disability.
The key issue in these discrimination in the workplace cases, of course, is “perceived disability.” This area manager perceived that the candidate was disabled, and concluded (without any real evidence) that the disability would prevent the worker from doing the job.
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