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A brief history of how it took almost 300 years to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act

Fast Company – “By now you’ve probably heard that the pandemic has hit certain groups more than others. Women, particularly women of color, have lost a historic number of jobs, which has a ripple effect on the wage gap and the global economy overall. What’s less well known is that between March and August 2020 a million workers with disabilities lost their jobs, and by December, unemployment among this cohort climbed to 12.3%—which is about twice the national average. One in four U.S. adults (61 million) has some type of disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers federal protection for these individuals to prohibit employers from discriminating against them on the basis of disability, just as Title VII mandates that an employer can’t discriminate based on race, origin, color, religion, or sex. That legislation didn’t pass without a long, drawn-out battle, and other laws are still rife with loopholes that allow companies to discriminate. For instance, the eight-decades-old Fair Labor Standards Act has an exemption that allows employers to pay workers with disabilities “special” minimum wages because they can’t perform the job as an able worker would. It’s a great illustration of how individuals with any kind of disability have been reduced to the bias—conscious or unconscious—that they’re somehow not whole and mentally and physically capable of doing the work…”

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