I know what it fees like to be discriminated against at work based on a disability. I have heard the thinly veiled excuses and the felt the drastic shift in attitude towards me. I didn’t press the matter, but I probably could have had I wanted to. In my case it was regarding a temporary issue, which made me even more frustrated. I wasn’t quite as productive while I was ill as I would have been at 100%, but I was fully trained and still carrying a considerable work load. It wasn’t only morally wrong to pick on me, but financially stupid as well. It’s human nature to want to contribute and feel valuable, and everyone who is capable should be allowed to work and support themselves. But, when we take emotions and ideals out of the equation, what are we left with and how should we navigate through it?
Handicapped parking is one of those issues that tends to bring out the very best and the very worst in people. Some people think it’s essential, while others think it’s a waste of space. I think most people would agree that those who are disabled should have the same rights and opportunities as those are able bodied, but disagreements arise when trying to decide the best way to ensure that that happens. And of course, should everyone who has a disability qualify for a parking pass? Who decides? These are difficult questions with difficult answers.
While reading my alumni magazine for the University of Guelph I came across Project Revision. The project, which is led by Carla Rice, a professor in U of G’s Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, “uses arts-based methods to dismantle stereotypical understandings of disability and difference that can create barriers to healthcare, education, and inclusion in society.”
A few weeks ago the European Court of Justice ruled that
if the obesity of the worker ‘hinders the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers’, then obesity can fall within the concept of “disability”.
According to BBC News:
That will mean employers must, on a case by case basis, make reasonable adjustments such as providing larger chairs or special car parking, and protect such employees from verbal harassment.
But there are wider implications. Providers of goods and services such as shops, cinemas and restaurants will also have to make reasonable adjustments for their customers, which might include things like special seating arrangements.
While I do not think that there is ever an appropriate time for things such as verbal abuse, I believe that this ruling sets a dangerous precedent that will not benefit anyone.