Hotel chain will pay $132,500 for dismissing autistic desk clerk

by Walter Olson on November 27, 2011

The EEOC says Comfort Suites dismissed the clerk when it should instead have accepted the services of a state-paid “job coach” who might have “helped the clerk learn to master his job by using autism-specific training techniques.” [EEOC press release, Fox San Diego]

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{ 10 comments }

1 asdfasdf 11.27.11 at 5:32 pm

EEOC claims clerk “had prior hotel experience in a similar position” where he “earned a positive recommendation.” But clerk then demanded a “job coach” in order to perform his new job. If employee really “earned” his positive recommendation in a “similar position” then he would not have needed a “job coach” at the new job. The EEOC’s own press release is inconsistent.

Be that as it may, it’s decisions like this that are the main barrier to employment of disabled people. It makes employers rightfully concerned about having to fight the EEOC if they hire a disabled person.

2 Smart Dude 11.28.11 at 12:35 am

The hotel should be lucky a Tourette’s did not sneak into the job, with an equally fake resume and phony recommendation.

“Will that be a room with a single queen size bed or two doubles…F***, F***, F***, F***…”

That paradigm of justice, the EEOC, would have suggested a speech coach.

3 Richard Nieporent 11.28.11 at 8:03 am

It would appear that the EEOC is trying to make sure that no person with a disability is ever hired again. After all, you can’t be sued for “discriminating” against a person with a disability if you never hire the person in the first place.

4 wfjag 11.28.11 at 10:03 am

If you understand the law and resources available to employers, it is hard to feel any sympathy for the employer in this case. By hiring a disabled person, the employer gets special tax credits. And, in every state, job coaches are provided free-of-charge by Medicaid contractors. (So, perhaps a sign should be posted “Your Tax Dollars At Work”, like at all the road construction sites. ) Further, the rule in dealing with persons having an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis is that “When you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.” There is little similarity between persons with ASD diagnoses as to capabilities and behavior. This makes a job coach especially valuable, since that person’s job is to teach that ASD-diagnosed person on the specifics needed to succeed in that particular job, so the employer does not have to. However, the employer has to accurately identify what is needed.

The reason ASD-diagnosed persons most frequently fail in the job force is not employment-related issues. It is social-related issues. They don’t do well with office politics or B.S.ing around the water cooler or coffee pot.

However, ignorant persons will more likely remember “Smart Dude”‘s snark on this site and as the sole comment to the Fox news story. I suppose that was his point — since you can’t dump on people based on race, gender, age or sexual orientation any more, may as well target “FLKs” (“Funny Looking Kids”) for looking and acting nerdie, especially if they can’t help it. Keeping them on welfare and out of the ranks of the employed is good for one’s ego, by making one feel superior to such losers.

5 William Nuesslein 11.28.11 at 12:01 pm

As I understand wfjag’s comment above, the hotel chain had an interest on dumping on a nerdy looking kid as they would feel superior to someone. A HOTEL CHAIN! good grief.

6 wfjag 11.28.11 at 3:59 pm

William, you really should read the EEOC Press Release. The settlement was with a particular business, not the entire Comfort Inns hotel chain. Or, do you not believe that an employer has a duty to supervise its employees to prevent prohibited discrimination from occurring?

7 gitarcarver 11.28.11 at 10:57 pm

Or, do you not believe that an employer has a duty to supervise its employees to prevent prohibited discrimination from occurring?

The problem is, wfjag, that just because something is “prohibited,” doesn’t mean that prohibition is right.

This was not a case where someone was discriminated because they were a certain race, gender, held a certain belief system or whatever.

This is a case where the issue was the performance of the employee.

If the only reason an employee cannot hire or fire an employee based on performance is some sort of “prohibited discrimination,” the argument is already lost.

I was going to ask you to educate me on why if the employee had done his job well before, why he needed more training to do the same job. It is a question that I believe many have.

However, it seems clear that answer doesn’t matter. What seems to matter is that someone somewhere thought the idea of businesses being forced to keep an employee no matter what their performance level because someone somewhere thinks that employee needs to be “protected” from life was a good.

It isn’t.

(And just so you know, I have hired disabled people in previous jobs and continue to do so. I don’t look at the disability, I look at whether they can do the job. Anything else is a abrogation of my duty and responsibility to my company and my employer.)

8 William Nuesslein 11.29.11 at 9:11 am

There is a fatal flaw to anti-discrimination activities, be it in law or in rights activism. That is that employers would override economic laws just to be mean to somebody. Back in the 1970s I recommended hiring female math majors because women at the time cost only 59 cents compared to a buck for males. Our two hires were disasters.

My understanding (Mr. Olson has the actual data) that employment of people with disabilities went down after the passing of ADA.

9 Ron Miller 11.29.11 at 11:55 am

“Back in the 1970s I recommended hiring female math majors because women at the time cost only 59 cents compared to a buck for males. Our two hires were disasters.”

Seriously? Is this a real point or is this a parody for fun?

10 William Nuesslein 11.30.11 at 7:32 am

No Mr. Miller. That is a true story.

The economics are clear. If women cost 59 cents compared to a buck for men, then one could buy the best women for 75 cents or so and pocket 25 cents. Why wouldn’t that happen? The gap with respect to women’s pay has been narrowed to 85 cents or so if my memory is correct. But that was mainly because lower birth rates and more education allowed women to take better jobs for longer times. Unfortunately too much of the change is to avoid litigation and harassment from the government.

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