In today’s workplace, most employers have gone (kicking and screaming) into the digital age as it relates to their employment practices. Prospective employees fill out on-line applications that are filtered by OCR programs designed to seek out relevant key words in order to pass along an applicant to a company. Many companies now use on-line employment applications. Employee manuals and policy and procedure guidelines are now digitally stored and are only accessible through the use of a computer. If a visually impaired applicant or employee cannot access these materials, chances are that your business may be missing out on qualified applicant or worse, become the target for claims under the Americans With Disabilities (“ADA) Act.
The EEOC’s Guidance on the Americans With Disabilities Act provides that: [a]n employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified individual with a disability that will enable the individual to have an equal opportunity to participate in the application process and be considered for the job (unless it can show an undue hardship.)”
Many retailers who sell their wares on line have learned (some the hard way), that they must make their offerings on line accessible to consumers with visual or auditory disabilities. Employers who use on line applications can be targets for visually or auditorily impaired applicants, or potentially a group of applicants who were unable to apply for a job simply because he or she could not read the content of the on line application. While public accommodation cases involving potential customers result only in the payment of the claimant’s attorney’s fees, cases involving job applicants who have been denied the ability to seek employment because of a physical impairment can result in significant amounts being paid in damages.
Employers need to take notice of this growing trend as we continue to move further into the digital age. Cutting edge companies with on line presences have moved to a “plug in” that allows for ADA compliance throughout the site, including all information contained on the site as well as the employment application itself. These plug ins can also be used on a company’s intranet site so that all the information is likewise accessible to existing employees.
And as a final note, consider whether the law firm an employer uses has an ADA complaint website. Ours (http//www.boznoslawoffice.com) is fully ADA compliant. If you turn to an attorney that professes to be and employment law expert, yet their own website is not ADA compliant, it is a sign that they are behind the times. Is that who you really want representing your business in a time of need?
With over 34 years’ experience in advising employers and employees on workplace issues, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by the changes to the employment laws. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at www.boznoslawoffice.com/contact-us through our website.