[nagdu] No good deed goes unpunished

Ginger Kutsch gingerKutsch at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 3 13:03:01 UTC 2010

FYI. Stossel's below opinion piece reflects a growing trend among
businesses who believe that "Disabled people visit businesses to
look for ADA violations, but instead of simply asking that a
violation be corrected, they partner with lawyers who (legally)
extort settlement money from the businesses."
JOHN STOSSEL: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?
By John Stossel
Published September 02, 2010 FoxNews.com
You own a business, maybe a restaurant. You've got a lot to worry
about. You have to make sure the food is safe and tastes good,
that the place is clean and appealing, that workers are friendly
and paid according to a hundred Labor Department and IRS rules.
On top of that, there are rules you might have no idea about.
The bathroom sinks must be a specified height. So must the
doorknobs and mirrors. You must have rails. And if these things
aren't right -- say, if your mirror is just one inch too high --
you could be sued for thousands of dollars.
And be careful. If you fail to let a customer bring a large
snake, which he calls his "service animal," into your restaurant,
you could be in trouble.
All of this is because of the well-intentioned Americans With
Disabilities Act, which President George H.W. Bush signed 20
years ago. It's the subject of my Fox Business show this week.
The ADA was popular with Republicans and Democrats. It passed
both houses of Congress with overwhelming majorities, 377 to 28
in the House and 91 to 6 in the Senate.
What does it do? The ADA prohibits discrimination against people
with disabilities, requiring businesses to provide the disabled
"equal access" and to make "reasonable accommodation" for
employees. Tax credits and deductions are available for special
equipment (talking computers, for instance) and modifying
buildings to comply with the accessibility mandate.
The ADA was supposed to help more disabled people find jobs. But
did it?
Strangely, no. An MIT study found that employment of disabled men
ages 21 to 58 declined after the ADA went into effect. Same for
women ages 21 to 39.
How could employment among the disabled have declined?
Because the law turns "protected" people into potential lawsuits.
Most ADA litigation occurs when an employee is fired, so the
safest way to avoid those costs is not to hire the disabled in
the first place.
Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of
the blog, Overlawyered.com, says that the law was unnecessary.
Many "hire the handicapped" programs existed before the ADA
passed. Sadly, now most have been quietly discontinued, probably
because of the threat of legal consequences if an employee
doesn't work out.
Under the ADA, Olson notes, fairness does not mean treating
disabled people the same as non-disabled people. Rather it means
accommodating them. In other words, the law requires that people
be treated unequally.
The law has also unleashed a landslide of lawsuits by
"professional litigants" who file a hundred suits at a time.
Disabled people visit businesses to look for violations, but
instead of simply asking that a violation be corrected, they
partner with lawyers who (legally) extort settlement money from
the businesses.
Some disabled people have benefited from changes effected by the
ADA, but the costs are rarely accounted for. If a small business
has to lay off an employee to afford the added expense of
accommodating the disabled, is that a good thing -- especially
if, say, customers in wheelchairs are rare? Extra-wide bathroom
stalls that reduce the overall number of toilets are only some of
the unaccounted-for costs of the ADA. And since ADA modification
requirements are triggered by renovation, the law could actually
discourage businesses from making needed renovations as a way of
avoiding the expense.
A few disabled people speak up against the law. Greg Perry,
author of "Disabling America: The Unintended Consequences of the
Government's Protection of the Handicapped," says that because
the disabled now represent an added expense to businesses, many
resent them.
Finally, the ADA has led to some truly bizarre results. Exxon
gave ship captain Joseph Hazelwood a job after he completed
alcohol rehab.
Hazelwood then drank too much and let the Exxon Valdez run
aground in Alaska. Exxon was sued for allowing it to happen. So
Exxon prohibited employees who have had a drug or drinking
problem from holding safety-sensitive jobs. The result? You
guessed it -- employees with a history of alcohol abuse sued
under the ADA, demanding their "right" to those jobs. The federal
government (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) supported
the employees. Courts are still trying to sort it out.
More money for the parasites.
John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network.
He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and
Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit
his site at johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators
Syndicate writers and 

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