EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a guest blog post by Angela Ciccolo, Chief Legal Officer for Special Olympics.
Bravo to the U.S. Justice Department for announcing its agreement with the city of Baltimore, Maryland! Under a consent decree, the city will stop hiring practices that discriminate against people with disabilities. The Justice Department confronted Baltimore with allegations that the city was requiring applicants for jobs undergo medical examinations and answer disability-related questions before the city would make conditional offers of employment. Such practices violate the Americans with Disabilities Act which operates to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of disability.
The ADA’s provisions are widely known, so it’s hard to believe that a major U.S. city would make demands on job applicants that violate the ADA. But, on the other hand, maybe it’s not so surprising when we consider the kinds of discrimination faced by people with disabilities on a daily basis. It can be a real challenge for a person with disabilities to find employment; that’s why it’s up to all of us to demand a dramatic attitude change when it comes to hiring people with disabilities. Our Special Olympics athletes are some of the best employees anywhere; they just need an opportunity. Kudos to all the employers big and small who’ve embraced this message and provide meaningful jobs for people with intellectual disabilities. Let’s hope the city of Baltimore is listening.