The New Jersey Merit System Board has ruled that an amputee who wears a prosthetic leg must be reinstated to the hiring list of the Paterson Fire Department Academy, overturning the city’s attempts to bar him from entry.
The man, who lost his leg to gangrene from spinal meningitis at age 5, went on to become a star football and baseball player in high school and a sprinter in the Paralympics. He easily passed the department’s grueling physical exam.
The National Fire Protection Association’s guidelines automatically disqualify amputees as firefighter candidates, a standard the board rejected as obsolete.
Tip: Blanket prohibitions against specific disabilities are an invitation to a lawsuit. The ADA and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination require employers to evaluate disabled workers on a case-by-case basis.