Nancy Grimes, top legal recruitment specialist, knows most law firms and companies are striving to be more and more inclusive. However, there may still be some aspects of your hiring process that need tweaking in order to better serve, and attract, all qualified applicants. Additionally, addressing the below issues will secure employers against claims of discrimination.
ADA Requires Accommodation For Job Applicants, Too
by: Paul Cherner, of Klein, Paull, Holleb and Jacobs LTD
How inclusive is your workplace? Do you use online applications? If visually impaired applicants cannot access your online application, chances are that your workplace fails to include these individuals. You could be missing out on qualified applicants and making your business a target for claims.
Many employers have turned to online platforms to handle job applications. This has allowed easier filtering of applicants and their qualifications for these open positions and streamlined this administrative task. However, an online application process could be filtering out otherwise qualified applicants.
Employers who use online applications can be targets for litigation involving visually impaired applicants who are unable to apply for a job simply because they cannot read the content of an online application. Potential cases involving job applicants who have been denied the ability to seek employment because of a physical impairment can result in significant amounts being assessed in damages.
In the past few months, several cases involving online job applicants have been filed throughout the country against employers because the online job applications were allegedly inaccessible to individuals with visual impairments. A major gaming retailer, restaurant, grocery chain, and disposable cup manufacturer are among those sued, with three cases filed in August 2018. The plaintiffs in these three cases claimed that they attempted to gain access to the employer’s website to complete an application but were prevented from doing so because the website was incompatible with their screen reader software. The plaintiffs alleged that they sought a reasonable accommodation from the prospective employer by sending three (3) letters requesting assistance in completing the application, such as re-designing the website to allow screen reader access. The complaints allege that the plaintiffs’ efforts to seek an accommodation were rebuffed, whether by the employer’s complete failure to respond or other refusal to engage in the interactive process under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The current hotbed for the litigation appears to be California, but employers operating in other states should not consider themselves safe.
The EEOC’s Guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act provides that “[a]n employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant with a disability that will enable the individual to have an equal opportunity to participate in the application process and to be considered for a job (unless it can show undue hardship).” Job applicants also look to similar rights provided under state anti-discrimination laws when seeking relief for allegedly inaccessible online applications. While online interfacing may render difficult the ability to assess an applicant’s initial qualifications, employers must think again about how they incorporate accessibility into their business models, including their hiring and application processes.