[Jobs] Driver's license.doc

Gail Snider gsnider at clb.org
Thu Apr 28 07:20:13 CDT 2011

Dick, I forgot to mention yesterday that I loved your letter as written, because employers need to be reminded to think more carefully about the term 'driver's license' and what they really mean when they use it to qualify or disqualify job applicants.

Gail Snider
Information and Referral Specialist
Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind
8720 Georgia Avenue, Suite 210
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: 240-737-5170
Fax: 301-589-7281
Email: gsnider at clb.org<mailto:gsnider at clb.org>
Web: www.clb.org<http://www.clb.org/>

From: jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Dick Davis
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 2:20 PM
To: 'Jobs for the Blind'
Subject: Re: [Jobs] Driver's license.doc

O.K. but I have run into a number of situations where blind people didn't apply because of the driver's license requirement.  I was lucky to be able to catch a couple of them and tell them to ignore it, but in some cases, the deed was already done and they had given up.  State ID's are mentioned in the letter.  If anyone sees things that should be added to it, just tell me.  But if it helps anyone, please feel free to use it.

From: jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Reyazuddin, Yasmin
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 9:22 AM
To: Jobs for the Blind
Subject: Re: [Jobs] Driver's license.doc

Hi Dic,
I like the letter and what you suggest. However, I also understand the reason why employer put the statement about valid drivers license.
It is the old argument. The blind were excluded from Jury duty because of not having a driving license. We are out of the dark ages. We the blind should assume that there will be the statement about driver license but it may not be a requirement. Our purpose is to get into the door of the employer. We can discuss transportation options when we get the interview.
About 11 years ago, when I had an appointment with the county, I was volunteering in D.C. I had to take the metro and then the bus to get to my interview. My metro ride was fine but then the bus failed me. I called and let the employer know that I was running late by few minutes. The employer understands transportation troubles.
There are many jobs where the employer requires background checks. I thinks the requirement for valid driver license is to insure that the employee is truly the person he/she claims to be.
Yasmin Reyazuddin
Aging & Disability Services
Montgomery County Government
Department of Health & Human Services
401 Hungerford Drive (3rd floor)
Rockville MD 20850
240-777-0311 (MC311)
240-777-1556 (personal)
240-777-1495 (fax)
office hours 8:30 am 5:00 pm
Languages English, Hindi, Urdu, Braille

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Thank you.

-----Original Message-----
From: jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Dick Davis
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 9:41 AM
To: 'Jobs for the Blind'; 'Rehabilitation Counselor Mailing List'
Cc: 'Shawn Mayo'; 'Al Spooner'
Subject: [Jobs] Driver's license.doc

Hi Everyone,
I wrote this a short while ago, and thought it might be of help to the rest of you. What I describe seems to be a rapidly growing problem.
Dick Davis
National Federation of the Blind
Employment Committee
100 E. 22nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55404-2514

April 15, 2011

Dear Employer:

Over the past couple of years, I've seen a large number of job postings that require a valid state driver's license. These job postings don't require the kind of commercial driver's license needed by people who drive professionally.  They require the kind of garden variety driver's license that mom, dad, and the kids need to drive their car, minivan, or SUV.

The odd thing about the job postings I've seen that contain this requirement is that most of them don't even list driving as an essential job function. I know lots of blind jobseekers who were able to perform all the essential functions of a job, but decided not to apply when they saw the valid driver's license requirement.

I'm sure there are good reasons why the valid driver's license requirement finds its way into job descriptions (and it does into lots of them). A valid driver's license permits employees to drive company vehicles or use their own for work functions. It also serves as a handy means of identification.

But in my opinion, the requirement is discriminatory, because it excludes blind people as a class.  That's because no blind person can qualify for a state driver's license. If you know anything about civil rights law, a requirement that excludes an entire class of people from applying is a definite no-no.  That's especially the case when driving isn't listed as an essential function of the job.

The only time when such a requirement isn't discriminatory is when operating a motor vehicle is an essential function of the job, and no reasonable accommodation is available.  An example of this would be a job where a significant portion of the employee's workday is spent picking up people in the morning, driving them to a social service program, and taking them back home in the afternoon.

It would be unreasonable for a blind person to apply for that kind of job. But if, on the other hand, the job just required some travel, it would be reasonable for the individual to apply.  Blind people use mass transit, taxis, shuttle vans, intercity buses, trains, planes, and paid drivers to get from place to place.  They do so efficiently, and they've been doing it for decades.

In that case, requiring that the blind person have a valid driver's license and drive a company car would be discriminatory, since reasonable accommodations like the ones listed above are in fact available.  The argument "because we've always done it that way" isn't going to hold up in court if the blind person files a civil rights complaint.  I know, because I've served as an expert witness in a number of discrimination cases.

So, what is an employer to do?  I think the best approach is to leave the valid driver's license requirement out of the job description entirely unless driving (not just getting from place to place, but actually operating a motor vehicle) is an essential function of the job, and no reasonable accommodation is available.

If the job requires travel, say so, and say how much travel is required, but don't specify the method that must be used. Let the blind job applicant figure that out, and if the explanation seems reasonable to you, hire them.  If you want an employee to have identification, say that you want a "valid state driver's license or state ID".  Blind people can get state ID's, the same amount of proof is required, and they look virtually the same.

In a broader sense, make sure all your job descriptions state the essential functions in detail, but avoid specifying the exact methods to be used. And especially avoid physical requirements like "good vision" unless you are absolutely certain that there is no way a person can perform the tasks using nonvisual methods.  (The only way you can be absolutely certain is if you know a lot about blindness and blind people, which isn't usually the case.)

A couple of final points - blind people are not stupid; they have no interest in taking unreasonable risks, or failing and getting fired.  If an individual doesn't think they can perform the required functions, they won't apply, and if they do, they'll be prepared to describe how they can do it.

It's simple, it's fair, and it beats heck out of having to respond to a civil rights complaint.

Best wishes,
Richard "Dick" Davis
Committee Chair

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