What’s Wrong Wednesday: Concern For Disability Civil Rights?

Attorney General Jeff Session’s Department of Justice just dropped its appeal of a key disability rights case, causing fear among the disabled community and their advocates. 

The suit involves a sheriff’s deputy, Emily Hall, in Richmond Virginia, who had heart surgery in 2012 and was unable to return to work in her old position. The sheriff’s department advised her to apply for a different job, and when she did, she wasn’t hired.

Hall sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act on the grounds that the department failed to accommodate her disability and the Obama justice department signed on. When a federal judge ruled against Hall, the Justice Department appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of appeals. Now the Trump administration is dropping the appeal.

Top officials who worked in the Civil Rights Division under Obama say that may be an ominous sign—an indicator that Sessions’ Justice Department may be far less aggressive in defending the rights of people with disabilities than President Barack Obama’s. They fear the dismissal could be the beginning of a shift away from the prior administration’s energetic stance.

Karen Harned, an attorney at the National Federation of Independent Businesses, tells the Daily Beast “It’s good to see that they’re not trying to push a theory that has already been rejected by other courts,” meaning a theory that businesses have a legal obligation to continue to employ their workers who become disabled while on the job. […] If a statute doesn’t say it clearly, small business owners shouldn’t be held to these new crazy theories.” Never mind that in this case it’s a public job and not a small business.

To read the entire article written by Joan McCarter, at Daily Kos Media, https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/8/7/1687507/-Advocates-fear-the-disabled-are-next-on-Trump-s-hit-list

(image description:  people are marching down a street holding signs.  One person’s sign says, Ramps lead the way to better business. Another sign says, my disability doesn’t make me different)