Hiring the right employees to play an important role in a federal business can get tricky. You may spend hours and hours mulling over the applications, conducting interviews and deciding who is the most qualified to handle the job and make the right contribution. One thing you must not ever do is discriminate against disabled applicants. Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 disallow any federal agencies to discriminate against prospective or current employees who have disabilities, and offer guidelines about attorney’s fees and remedies.
What Is Considered Discrimination?
There are specific discriminatory practices that are disallowed under sections 501 and 505. It’s important that as a business owner or HR professional, you know what they are so you can avoid them. Basing the following practices on an individual’s disability are prohibited.
• Apprenticeship programs, recruitment or training
• Assignments, promotions or transfers
• Company advertisements
• Disability leave, pay or retirement plans
• Fringe benefits
• Hiring or firing
• Other conditions or terms of the person’s employment
Handling an Individual With Disabilities
Whether you have a new hire or a current employee with a disability, he or she should be given the same opportunities as anyone else in the workplace. Affirmative action must always be taken when it comes to the placement, hiring and advancement of disabled individuals. This includes placement in agencies, departments and institutions in which their skills make them qualified for the job. You will also need to work with the Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities to ensure the special needs of your disabled employees are being met. The committee will regularly review your practices to be sure you follow within the law. On some occasions, the ICED may make some recommendations for changes if they are necessary to further accommodate the individual.
Remedies and Procedures
If a prospective or current employee files a complaint due to discrimination over a disability, section 505 offers remedies, procedures and attorney’s fees. The court determines what is reasonable and will work to ensure the costs are handled to accommodate the complainant. The court will take a look at what is available, what is equitable and what is appropriate to remedy the situation.
Something else to know is the court may also offer attorney’s fees to the prevailing party, but only to one that is not the United States. Using careful discretion, a reasonable amount will be determined to help with the costs.
How You Can Avoid Discriminating
It might sound like a heavy load to carry when trying to avoid discrimination while sorting through dozens of applicants for a new position. It’s essential for your business that you know how to avoid discriminating. The following are a few ideas to get you started.
• Evaluate Skills – As you look over your applicants’ resumes, pay careful attention to the skills they each have. Find a list of those which coincide best with the skill set you are looking for in a new hire. Compare skill to skill as you compare candidates, rather than ability to ability.
• Keep Written Notes – As you conduct interviews, make written notes that will help you when you sit down to consider the applicants. Your written notes can be more specific about their qualifications, rather than about what they look like or what holds them back. If you choose not to hire an individual, and he or she files a discriminatory complaint against you, there will be written evidence that the person was simply not the most qualified for the job.
Making It Work
Disabled individuals can be just as skilled, qualified and educated as someone who is not disabled. Looking beyond disabilities and allowing yourself to hire someone who is the ideal person for the job is the best way to make it work to everyone’s advantage.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.