Running head: CRITIQUE OF ADA AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION Critique of ADA and Affirmative Action April Phillips University of Phoenix Critique of ADA and Affirmative Action For years, big companies have set rules for which employees had to follow in order to maintain their jobs. Discrimination for language barrier, race, color, age, disability and more was nothing easy to fight against; until The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) came into effect. Such an important law brought many changes in all direction of management, employees, hiring process, ergonomics, and new job opening as Human Resources Specialist.
These changes are not only seen at the work place but at the educational level, as engineers learn to design a better and accessible working place for the disabled. This paper will discuss and critique The Americans with Disabilities Act and Affirmative Action based on readings and research. Personal views of ADA and Affirmative Action will be discussed along with the pros and cons of these programs that help Americans avoid discrimination through legislation.
The issues of an agency offering accessibility to all clients will be discussed and the impacts it has on the company such as cost for remodeling, avoiding lawsuits, and enforcing regulations among employees. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The world’s first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities was put into place to protect the people in this country who have physical and mental disabilities.
The ADA defines an individual with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment (EEOC, 2008). To protect human rights, ban segregation, and discrimination against those with disabilities, the act prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, ompensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations. Because those with disabilities were still being discriminated against such as inaccessible building, transportation, and communication barriers, in February of 2001, President George W.
Bush promoted the full participation of people with disabilities in all areas of society by increasing access to assistive and universally designed technologies, expanding educational and employment opportunities, and promoting full access to community life. Because of the uniqueness of each individual, The Americans with Disabilities Act is updated or revised often to accommodate all who are connected to the services with the most recent changes in September of 2008 (EEOC, 2008).
With the Americans with Disabilities Act in place, provision of increased access to public areas, such as power doors, ramps and curb cuts, and paratransit are all options in cities with public transportation. Now that higher education institutions are opened up to persons with disabilities, the importance of a planned, coordinated response to the accessibility requirements of the law is a concern in maintaining accessibility while minimizing the cost of retrofitting existing resources.
Although there are some universities who still evade compliance, the majority do provide the services needed for students with disabilities. Some other areas where the meaning of the law has not accomplished much good and may actually have hurt people with disabilities in general are special education classes. The ADA requires reasonable accommodation but the governing legislation is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This law requires that children with disabilities be educated “in the most inclusive manner possible. This sounds good but in practice, it means little. With the financial crisis that the state is currently in, special education is not receiving the funding that is required to maintain and preserve the safety and welfare of the students in the special education program. Class sizes are moving from 12 to 18, assistance in the classroom is limited, putting everyone involved in the management of the class or students in jeopardy (EEOC, 2008). Affirmative Action is very important for people with disabilities because easures were established to fight racial discrimination, racial inequality, and injustice targeting certain populations. In 1961, President Kennedy issued an executive order stating that contractors doing business with the government will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during their employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin. The order did not advocate preferential treatment of affected groups but rather sought to eliminate discrimination in the traditional sense.
A subsequent order was followed by President Johnson in 1965 to mandate affirmative action goals to all federally funded programs and move monitoring and enforcement of affirmative action programs out of the White House and into the Labor Department (Kivel, 1996). The legal status of affirmative action was solidified by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This landmark legislation prohibited discrimination in voting, public education and accommodations, and employment in firms with more than 15 employees.
For example, most job opportunities are heard about through informal networks of friends, family and neighbors. Since the results of racism are segregated communities, schools and workplaces, this pattern leaves people of color out of the loop for many jobs, advancement opportunities, scholarships and training programs. Federal law now requires widespread and public advertisement of such opportunities so that not only people of color, but white women and men, who are outside the circles of information, have an equal opportunity to apply for these positions.
Furthermore, it allowed the state and federal governments to favor women and minority owned businesses when awarding contracts, and to reject bids from businesses that do not make good faith efforts to include minority owned businesses among their subcontractors. The four-fifths rule was too a significant benchmark to determine unequal impact in firms contracting with the federal government; no agency shall be allowed to hire any race, sex, or ethnic group at a rate below four-fifths that of any other group (Affirmative Action, n. . ). Affirmative action is not a cure-all nor will it eliminate racial discrimination or competition for scarce resources. Racism is very much prevalent in this country and is documented in 1991 when Diane Sawyer, a reporter with news channel ABC, filmed two men, one African American and one white, who were matched for age, appearance, education, and other qualities. They were followed for a day by a camera crew. The white man received service in stores while the African American was ignored, or in some cases, watched closely.
The white man was offered a lower price and better financing at a car dealership. There were jobs where the African American was turned down and apartments for rent after the African American man was told they were no longer available. A police car passed the white man while he was walking down the street but it slowed down and took note of the African American (Kivel, 1996). Affirmative action programs can only ensure that everyone has a fair chance at what is available. They cannot direct us to the social policies necessary so people do not have to compete for scarce resources in the first place.
Expanding opportunity for people of color means expanding not only their access to existing jobs, education and housing, but also removing the obstacles that cause these resources to be limited. It has been argued that affirmative action means the best qualified person will not be hired. However, it has been demonstrated many times in hiring and academic recruitment that test and educational qualifications are not necessarily the best predictors of future success. This does not mean unqualified people should be hired.
It means basically qualified people who may not have the highest test scores or grades, but who are eminently ready to do the job may be hired. Employers have traditionally hired people not only on test scores, but on personal appearance, family and personal connections, school ties, and on race and gender preferences, demonstrating that talent or desirability can be defined in many ways. These practices have all contributed to a segregated workforce where whites hold the best jobs, and people of color work in the least desirable and most poorly paid positions.
Affirmative action policies serve as a corrective to such patterns of discrimination, to keep score on progress toward proportional representation, and place the burden of proof on organizations to show why it is not possible to achieve it. For this reason, the idea of affirmative action was a step in the right direction to address the unequal separation of those who did not have access to schools, opportunities, and jobs that were only available to their white counterparts.
Affirmative Action and ADA have impacted companies, organizations, small businesses, and public areas because it is necessary for them to accommodate people with disabilities to their best ability by installing special equipment such as rails, wheelchair ramps, and special bathroom accommodations. Employer must comply with the Equal Employer Opportunity Commission by employing people with disabilities and giving them tools and resources to do their job.
Not every individual with disabilities will be eligible to work on certain jobs so it is up to the employer to properly screen potential employees and not base their decisions on a disability that will not affect their job performance. If their disability will affect the job performance then the employer is not required to hire that individual (Davis, 2008). For example, I work in special education and there was a wheelchair bound individual that applied for an aide position to work with children with autism.
Because of her condition and the amount of physical movement involved, such as running, blocking doors, restraints involved with the position, I immediately told the committee that she could not be a candidate because of the job duties required. If the position did not require the numerous amount of physical activity, she could definitely be a candidate for the job. In conclusion, many think affirmative action is still necessary because racism and prejudice still exist.
In light of the past, history of discrimination and abuse against minorities that has held them back so unfairly, Affirmative Action is an enormous value to our economy. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a law which prohibits discrimination of individuals with disabilities. Dividing the law into four major sections; public services, public accommodation, employment, transportation, and telecommunication. Through the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a commitment has been made to end discrimination against people with disabilities in all aspects of American life.
References Affirmative action. (n. d. ). Encyclopedia of Small Business. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from http://www. answers. com/topic/affirmative-action Davis, K. (2008). Mandatory Affirmative Action. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from http://academic. udayton. edu Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2008). Facts about the American with Disability Act. Retrieved on August 17, 2009, from http://www. eeoc. gov Kivel, P. (1996) Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from http://www. inmotionmagazine. com der[pic]