Monday, March 28, 2011

Americans With Disabilities Act - Government Gone Wild

The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 to accommodate people on the job with obvious disabilities; primarily the blind, the crippled and those with mental impairments. In 2008, while the Socialists controlled the Congress, the ADA was expanded to include all sorts of ailments. Previously, it was thought that the ADA covered about 40 million Americans. The 2008 upgrade will expand this number dramatically to millions more. And, this law is turning into another regulation nightmare for employers. Previously, the handicapped had to demonstrate that their disability was such that accommodation was necessary. Now, business has to demonstrate why accommodation is not necessary placing the legal burden on the employer. This well intentioned law will ultimately result in job losses across the board since the cost of accommodation will not come out of thin air. Any time government burdens business with a higher cost to doing business in the United States more jobs go overseas where such laws do not exist. And, many wonder why unemployment in the US is still high. Many of the jobs that were lost during the Recession are not coming back. They are gone forever, which is the reason many are saying that the unemployment we have now is not going away any time soon. The expansion of those covered by ADA will not result in one more disabled person on the job if there are fewer jobs for all. Recently, we moved into a new building that was constructed to be ADA compliant, which means many features in the space had to be accessible by wheel chair. That sounds reasonable except that in doing so, various features in the space are now not convenient for those not in a wheel chair. Since currently we have no wheel chair bound employees, all other employees are negatively impacted. In another instance, in remodeling one of our other buildings, though our building was ADA compliant in 1999 when it was built, our architect advised us that we might have to make costly changes to comply with current rules, including the potential expense of $25,000 to install bot dots in the parking lot to allow the blind to make their way 200 feet from the side walk in front of the building to the front door. When I asked how would a blind person get to the side walk in the first place, without assistance, there was no logical answer. This is getting pretty crazy. Obviously, most Americans would do what we can to help the the disabled, narrowly defined. But is a person with high blood pressure, which is treatable, disabled requiring accommodation, perhaps meaning a job with low, or no stress? And, what job would that be that has any value to a company? I know of none. If high blood pressure is now covered by the ADA, we may be talking about half the working population making it impossible for business to comply. This is just more fodder for nuisance lawsuits and big contingency fees for trial attornies. Clearly, government unrestrained has gone too far, once again. The Americans With Disabilities Act, more broadly defined, will be a job killer. This is just one more example of government gone wild. Does anyone in Washington have any common sense?

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