The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed to protect qualified disabled individuals from discrimination in the work place. The ADA prohibits discrimination at all points in the employment life cycle including application submission, hiring, and termination. Additionally, the ADA stipulates that employers must provide reasonable accommodations for disabled individuals so long as these accommodations are not overly harsh. Finally, the ADA does not go so far as to enumerate disabilities. Instead, a disability is characterized as a physical or mental condition that effects at least one major facet of life (Dessler, 2008).
Sears, Roebuck, and Co. has a long history of proactive accommodation of disabled individuals. It has long been the belief of Sears that incorporating disabled individuals into their workforce directly effects the company’s bottom line by positively influencing employee morale and community standing. Sears currently defines their strategy as “ADA transcendence” — viewing the guidelines set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and ADA as a minimum effort rather than maximum. Sears has found that the cost of accommodations for qualified individuals is quite low. For example, from 1993 through 1995, Sears provided 71 accommodations at a cost of $3,209.20 or $45.20 per accommodation. For a company with 300,000 employees and over $1 billion in revenue, these costs are negligible (Blank, 1996).
Although Company X is much smaller than Sears and does not enjoy the size and diversity of the Sears workforce, it can still implement Sears’ “ADA transcendence” strategy. Company X needs to develop policies specifically designed to address ADA dispute avoidance and resolution. Rather than viewing ADA related accommodations as a burden, Company X should proactively address accommodation requests. The costs associated with such accommodations are low and the impact on employee morale will be profound.
Blank, P. D. (1996). Communicating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Retrieved January 8, 2009.
Dessler, G. (2008). Human Resource Management. (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.