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01.09.2012 2

EEOC gives slackers a loophole by labeling them ‘disabled’

By Rebecca DiFede — In a recent “informal open letter” to employers across the country, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stated that requiring that applicants have a high school diploma is excluding those who were unable to graduate due to a learning disability.

They claim that having the exclusion “screens out an individual who is unable to graduate because of a learning disability that meets the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) definition of “disability”, and the employer may not apply the standard unless it can demonstrate that the diploma requirement is job related.” Basically, unless an employer can explicitly prove that having a high school diploma is instrumental in the completion of the job, they cannot require it.

Although the EEOC letter does not carry the force of law, it does carry with it a strong suggestion, which might be enough to scare employers into changing their standards without really knowing why.

This warning is troubling for several reasons. First of all, by getting rid of the diploma requirement in fear of disqualifying those with disabilities, the EEOC has unwittingly lumped people who couldn’t graduate with those who just didn’t feel like it. And there is a big difference when looking for a qualified employee between someone who couldn’t graduate because of a learning disability and someone who was a slacker and just didn’t make the grade because of their own laziness.

The ADA is in place to ensure that people with disabilities are treated fairly and not disqualified from opportunities solely based on their disability. However, although the ADA has their own definition of disability, being unmotivated and lackluster is not included within that term. And by removing the diploma requirement in case of disqualifying people who were unable to graduate, it allows those people who just didn’t feel like putting in the work to graduate to have opportunities that they don’t deserve by devaluing the importance of education as a stepping stone to the workplace.

It is an insult to those who struggle to overcome their disabilities to be compared to the people who just couldn’t be bothered to tear themselves away from their smoke-filled basements and go to class. Perhaps this wasn’t the intention of the EEOC’s letter, but that is the result. They aren’t asked that the job applications be marked “diploma negotiable” — after discussion about the equivalent experience that someone could have that would qualify them for the job in place of their diploma — but that it be deleted altogether.

And despite criticism, the EEOC believes that “people are aware that they need all the education they can get”. Oh really, so that is why graduation rates are 100 percent at every school across the nation? Oh wait.

So now, when already unmotivated high school students begin applying for jobs and notice that they don’t need a diploma to get hired, they will drop out. Because why bother hunkering down and doing the work when you could work at the local McDonalds without so much as a GPA requirement?

If anything, this supposed ADA protection actually makes light of the extreme difficulty many students with real disabilities have in high school. To make their effort to achieve this life milestone meaningless is deplorable at best.

The reason the diploma standard exists is to attempt to weed out people who don’t have any drive or work ethic by identifying those too lazy to bother doing homework (because those are not the kind of people you want working for you). But that is not the case for those with disabilities, and one of the purposes of the EEOC is to protect people with disabilities from job discrimination, making this extra employer restriction completely superfluous.

The EEOC should be ashamed of themselves for devaluing the hardships of students with disabilities, as well as the worth of a high school education, by providing a loophole for slackers who didn’t want to graduate under the guise of protecting the disabled.

Sadly, this additional window into the thinking of Obama’s EEOC shows a perverse worship of the “everybody gets a ribbon” philosophy that has invaded our nation, and when no one is a winner, everyone is a loser.  And that is just how those who want to impose a nanny state, like it.

Rebecca DiFede is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.

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