[Jobs] Driver's license.doc

Karen Rose rosekm at earthlink.net
Thu Apr 28 14:20:08 CDT 2011

This discussion puts me in mind of a situation I was in many years ago.  I
applied for a civil service exam with the City of Berkeley, California, for
a position doing social work/psychotherapy in an out-patient setting.  A
valid drivers' license was listed as a requirement.  Realizing that this
was, after all, Berkeley, I called their H.R. department and said, "Does the
City of Berkeley really intend to discriminate against all blind people and
most epileptics on a categorical basis?"  Their H.R. person responded, "Oh,
of course not.  Please go ahead and apply!"  This was long before




From: jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of
Gail Snider
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2011 5:20 AM
To: Jobs for the Blind
Subject: Re: [Jobs] Driver's license.doc


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

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 


This message may contain protected health information or other information
that is confidential or privileged. If you are not the intended recipient,
please contact the sender by return mail and destroy any copies of this

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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