Disability studies scholars have identified a new technique designed to prevent disabled people from applying for jobs: the stipulation of physical requirements for positions. The criteria ("physical demands") stated are usually very specific and elaborate, disqualifying a range of potential disabled applicants. Such practices have even been adopted by universities and colleges. In the past four months, I have seen two postings for jobs in philosophy that stipulated physical requirements such as "ability to stand and deliver a lecture" and "full sight and hearing capacity." In the one case, these stipulations were set out on a university HR site that was linked from a philosophy department's job posting. In the other case, the stipulations were included in the very job posting itself. In both cases, the institutions in question were American universities. Philosophers must adamantly oppose the use of such criteria in the job postings for positions in their own departments and on their university's HR page. These criteria are in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In an article entitled "Disabled People Need Not Apply" that appeared in Al-Jazeera America, David Perry, a disability studies scholar and historian at Dominican University, writes:
"These clauses appear regularly in higher education jobs as well. I found around 60 current advertisements, including faculty, staff and administrative positions, at diverse types of universities. At many institutions, every job posting receives one of these clauses, despite many positions being perfectly suited to individuals with all types of bodies, senses and minds.
The University of Arkansas – Little Rock regularly inserts the following clause into their jobs, taken here from an application for a French professor:
Sedentary Work - Exerting 10 pounds: Occasionally, Kneeling: Occasionally, Climbing (Stairs, Ladders, etc.): Occasionally, Lifting 10-25 lbs: Occasionally, Carrying 5-10 lbs: Occasionally, Pushing/pulling 5-10 lbs: Occasionally, Sitting for long periods of time: Occasionally, Standing for long periods of time: Occasionally, Speaking; Essential, Hearing: Essential, Vision: Ability to distinguish similar colors, depth perception, close vision: Essential, Walking - Short Distances: Frequently
The Director of First Year writing at University of Texas at Arlington must “climb stairs.” A Development Officer at Clarion University Foundation is required to lift 25 pounds, one of the most common ways that disabled people are pre-emptively excluded. It’s reasonable for a job involving manual labor to require lifting. Making that 25-pound standard universal, though, excludes a huge class of people.
Here’s the worst: The Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Tarrant County College District, an office that includes oversight over disability issues, must be able to meet “physical demands” such as the need to “sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools, or controls; reach with hands and arms; and talk or hear.” What’s more, the employee is “occasionally required to stand; walk; climb or balance; stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl; and taste or smell,” as well as “frequently lift and/or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.” And “Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and the ability to adjust focus.”
Every category in the Director of Diversity posting is listed as essential, even the ability to taste or smell. Sam Crane, Director of Public Policy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and a disability rights lawyer, told me, “based on the job description that I’m seeing here, I’d say that’s illegal.” An employer cannot simply list categories that exclude wide swathes of disabled Americans without a very strong reason."
[. . . .]
"These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Go to your favorite job site and search for “25 pounds.” I suspect you’ll be shocked at how many non-manual-labor jobs have lifting requirements. Think about how many extremely qualified, dedicated, workers won’t even bother applying, even though in fact they would do the job as well as anyone else.
Unintentional discrimination is still discrimination. Boilerplate clauses keep disabled people from even applying for jobs. “Requirement creep,” likely put in place by HR professionals eager to avoid trouble, exacerbates discrimination and could, if someone had the time and money, lead to legal trouble. Without deliberate change, unemployment will continue to be the biggest problem facing Americans with disabilities. It’s time for employers to take a hard look at their hiring practices."
Read the entire article by David Perry here.
posted by Shelley