Thursday, June 26, 2014

EEOC must aggressively pursue autism discrimination

Cynthia M. Parkhill's Bitstrips comic avatar extends her hand to shake hands with another person who is shown from the partial back view. Nearby, three other people are shown on either side of her, also from  a partial back view. While her expression is one of smiling, two cartoon liquid drops of sweat depict the cartoon avatar's nervousness. The caption, centered in quotation marks, reads, 'You are unsure of what to say when you meet someone.'
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips and added April 4, 2015
In the “Aspergers Management” group on LinkedIn, a member posted news of a May 2012 settlement between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Randstad US, LP concerning a disability bias suit on behalf of a job candidate who is on the autism spectrum.

The civil action alleged that Randstad refused to hire a job applicant after he disclosed his disability. It alleges that Randstad originally “fast-tracked” the applicant’s participation in the hiring process.
“Soon after he disclosed the disability, however, O’Dell was told that the lab technician position had been put ‘on hold,’ and he was not hired. Meanwhile, Randstad continued to recruit for the position.”
Under terms of the settlement, Randstad was required to provide monetary and remedial relief, including law compliance training for employees and display of notices affirming its commitment to a workplace free of discrimination.

The person sharing the link asked what other sanctions would have been appropriate. I couldn’t add to the list of sanctions imposed by the EEOC, but I expressed my belief that it’s hugely important that the EEOC continue to pursue discrimination on the basis of autism.

I specifically argued, the EEOC must address “social suitability” pre-screenings that seem purposely designed to flag characteristics associated with autism.

Pre-screening assessments like “I keep my feelings to myself,” “It’s fun to go out to events with big crowds,” “You are unsure of yourself with new people,” “It is easy for you to feel what others are feeling,” “You are unsure of what to say when you meet someone,” “You do not like small talk,” and “You know when someone is in a bad mood, even if they don’t show it” do nothing to determine my work attitudes and competencies.

Instead, they place me at an unfair advantage with job candidates who can intuit which answers will be “preferred,” and deliberately skew their responses.

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