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Steer clear of blanket hiring policies that stymie disabled applicants

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

Do you have a standard hiring rule that effectively screens out some job applicants? If so, scrap it.

Instead, consider each applicant on his or her merits, especially if the rule could harm applicants with certain disabilities.

Recent case: Brian is deaf but works as a pizza delivery driver for both Domino’s and Pizza Hut, apparently with no problems.

Because he wanted more work, he also applied to five different Jimmy John’s franchises. Each refused to accept his application after it became clear he was deaf. The stated reason was a rule against hiring people who cannot communicate verbally with customers.

Brian sued, alleging the rule violates the ADA and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The court said his case may proceed. (Hile v. Jimmy Johns, et al., No. 12-1672, DC MN, 2012)

Final note: On its face, it may seem reasonable to bar someone who is deaf from delivering pizza. But look deeper. First of all, it appears that Brian has a valid driver’s license, which should have dispelled any doubt about his ability to drive safely despite his deafness.

Second, don’t ignore industry practice. If two other companies were comfortable hiring a deaf driver, Jimmy John’s should have questioned its own policy. At the very least, managers should have discussed Brian’s deafness and considered possible accommodations. In our connected world, communication no longer relies exclusively on speech. Asking Brian how he handles other deliveries would have been an excellent start.

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