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Thread: Hiring the disabled

  1. #1
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    Hiring the disabled

    I'm involved with a company that will be building a whole bunch of installations that you can think of as small chemical plants. Being a generally nice guy, I would like to hire disabled operators if I can reasonably do so. I have had some experience with the disabled and found them to be very reliable workers.

    Are there any organizations out there that just offer technical resources for making accommodations? I'm pretty sure that we wouldn't fall under the ADA and aren't required to accommodate all disabilities. But if I can do some modest things and accommodate some disabled workers, I would like to know.

    I'm told that there are some financial incentives for hiring disabled vets. That would be a bonus but isn't my primary motivation. I'm just looking for good people and maybe a few accommodations would help my cast a wider net.

    Knowledge is power.

  2. #2
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    We have an achievement center that has students that work jobs that they can do. One was a nice guy that worked at our local grocery store and when that closed up he now works at our Home depot he has gotten promoted and does a great job

  3. #3
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    I know that there are many agencies that help the disabled adapt to existing jobs. I am creating entirely new jobs and want to proactively design them so that they can be done by the disabled.

    As I mentioned, my motivations are not entirely altruistic. The difficulty of the disabled in finding productive work that pays well can work very much in my favor. My guess is that if I do it right, my employees won't be inclined to change jobs on a whim. It's going to cost me a lot to train people and I don't want a lot of churn.

  4. #4
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    So many places to start. Maybe check with the local Goodwill to see if they can give any leads. Next might be the local building inspector's office to get guidelines on locating equipment controls so they can be accessed from a wheel chair. (One experience involved a building being set up for a commercial application was with the thermostats being located too high for a wheelchair user.)

    Next would be possibly with the state our county employment office. Maybe they can offer leads on organizations of interest to your plans.

    Good for you on trying to help those who mostly look forward to helping themselves.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Feeley View Post
    I know that there are many agencies that help the disabled adapt to existing jobs. I am creating entirely new jobs and want to proactively design them so that they can be done by the disabled.
    You will still be well served by speaking with the local agencies that provide services to the disabled in your area to get input on how best to approach your hiring goal. "Disabled" is also a very broad category so you'll need to consider what kinds of disabilities will be compatible with the position(s) you want to fill. My older daughter is considered legally disabled, but there's zero outward appearance of that because it's an emotional disability, for example. I absolutely applaud your goal here, too, as you are very correct that there is a dearth of well paying positions for folks who want and/or need to work but who also have a variety of disabilities that cause many employers to overlook them.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Depends on what you mean by disabled. Knew a goose hunting guide out of Chestertown MD, that got a call one day about hosting a group of blind people to experience having the geese fly in. Then as he is explaining the set up, the person asks if the goose blind in the marsh is handicap accessible. He said if someone was in a wheel chair, he would find a way to get them there. They booked a date and then didn't show. I think it was a total con to see if they could make a complaint to some agency.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perry Hilbert Jr View Post
    Depends on what you mean by disabled. Knew a goose hunting guide out of Chestertown MD, that got a call one day about hosting a group of blind people to experience having the geese fly in. Then as he is explaining the set up, the person asks if the goose blind in the marsh is handicap accessible. He said if someone was in a wheel chair, he would find a way to get them there. They booked a date and then didn't show. I think it was a total con to see if they could make a complaint to some agency.

    Perry, that's sort of the nature of the ADA. It's a set of laws with no companion regulating authority. So the courts are how the law is implemented. My daughter clerked at the 9th Circuit and they saw a lot of ADA cases, many filed by a single person. The ADA is a bit of an outlier. Usually, congress creates some sort of regulatory body to implement the law. In the case of the ADA, it's a bit of a free-for-all. From my daughter, I get the impression that she would rather see a regulatory body of some sort.

    That said, there appears to be enough case law that, "ADA compliant" means something.

    In my particular case, I don't think I would have to be ADA compliant any more than an oil refinery would. And, frankly, I don't know exactly how these plants will wind up looking because I haven't seen one (yes, strange). If we turn out to be an edge case, I would like to have some knowledge in my hip pocket to allow us to hire the disabled.

    For one thing, I know the plant will be noisy, both in terms of sound and electrically. I have some doubts about whether walkies would work. Wouldn't it be interesting to hire all hearing impaired and let them sign to each other... I'm keeping an open mind.

  8. #8
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    My father was a partner in a furniture refinishing/repair company. The partner got a some deaf workers in because their wages were partially subsidized. They turned out to be some of the best workers they ever had for the stripping and sanding work because they weren't distracted and wanted to do a good job.

    I would think with all the veterans that served you should have no trouble finding some that would be good workers.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Feeley View Post
    For one thing, I know the plant will be noisy, both in terms of sound and electrically. I have some doubts about whether walkies would work. Wouldn't it be interesting to hire all hearing impaired and let them sign to each other... I'm keeping an open mind.
    Honestly, it would not be enough for "them" to sign...you/management would also need to be functional in ASL, even if not legally required, simply because of safety and ultimately, courtesy. This is what I meant previously about considering what "disabled" means relative to business function since there are so many kinds of disabilities, both visible and invisible, and any necessary accommodations stem from the nature of a person's specific disability when it comes to job function. I am not saying this to discourage...I mention it because it's reality that has to be part of the plan.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
    Roger Feeley,

    A good place to start with accessibility are the codes in California. These rules have a number of requirements even for private houses and far exceed requirements in VA. Today, in CA, commercial buildings have quite a number of accessibility requirements, notably the proportion of handicap spaces and their dimensions, location, and signage, a minimum door frame opening dimension, at least one entrance with a maximum 1 in 8 ramps with a maximum run before a landing (27' I think), maximum stair rise and minimum run, limit to stair runs before a landing, and most of all, quite few requirements for bathrooms, a required wheelchair toilet stall with a minimum free area radius in front of the toilet, a certain number of lower urinals, maximum sink height with a clearance under, and a maximum distance from sink face to faucets to be able to reach the faucets from a wheelchair. There are lot of other details, such as maximum height of elevator buttons, and so on.

    The CA rules appear to exceed those in VA, and I think the comparison of the extra small details is useful reference to find an appropriate level of accommodation, if the admirable motivation is to exceed the VA requirements. The cost /benefit changes considerably; I think the minimum door opening size is very important, and in an industrial setting, the width is likely to be quite wide already, but of course if every door in an existing building had to widened that could be quite expensive.

    Years ago, I designed an extensive remodel to a bank in Los Angeles. Because the remodel exceeded 50% of the floor area, the building had to be brought up to the then-current accessibility code. I rented a wheelchair, parked my car in the underground garage, and with the assistant taking photos, went everywhere in the building in the wheelchair. That was an eye-opening education. That also produced some suspicious glares when I returned to the car, while still having photographs taken: jumped up, and put the wheelchair in the trunk. They were all thinking; "CA personal injury litigation scam",..


    Alan Caro

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the good comments all. I stumbled across the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) yesterday. They aren't geared exactly to what I want but I think they can help me when the time comes. They have really good information about how I should describe the operators job. They can hook me up with a consultant who can look at that and tell me what sort of disabilities I can already accommodate. My hope is that they can also tell me what sort of disabilities I can 'almost' accommodate. That's the key. What I'm looking for is advice about how to change this or that by just a little and at little cost to open my jobs up to more people.

    They aren't exactly set up to deal with my question. What they know how to do is help an employer when confronted with adapting a specific job for a specific disability. When I talked with them about my much more open ended project, they didn't really know what to do. Since I am still a ways from needing advice, I chose not to pursue it further. But I did learn enough to know that I should be able to adapt their knowledge to my needs.

    When the time comes, I will start with them.
    Last edited by Roger Feeley; 12-07-2018 at 9:55 AM.

  12. #12
    the ada is also a good place to start. Start by asking them safety regs and most dangerous situations for handicapped folks in general and more specific situations that will exhist on the job. Don't forget the phrase: "Reasonable accomodation" can often meet safety requirements.
    No. I only do that when I'm drunk...

  13. #13
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    I don't want to discourage you, but be careful. Once hired, you can't fire them without being sued.
    It is a very sad situation.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Lippman View Post
    I don't want to discourage you, but be careful. Once hired, you can't fire them without being sued.
    It is a very sad situation.
    That is way too general of a statement...
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    That is way too general of a statement...
    It doesn't matter how well you document everything; they often sue for discrimination and the government will take their side automatically. Been there more than once.
    One year I got an award from a local disability group as employer of the year, and got sued for discrimination the same year. The govt supported her, until she admitted she had concealed her disability and we weren't even aware of it.

    Too general? I don't have any statistics, just my experience. Maybe.

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