The Wall Street Journal
Copyright (c) 1995, Dow Jones & Co., Inc.
Friday, July 14, 1995
Letters to the Editor: Forget Sympathy; We're Talking Justice
James Bovard's attack on the Americans with Disabilities Act ("The Disability Act's Parade of
Absurdities," editorial page, June 22) is his second diatribe against the principles of equal
opportunity to appear in the Journal in less than two months; and, as noted at the end of his
article, it comes only three months before the scheduled release of his latest book.
I would like to dismiss Mr. Bovard's opinion pieces as part of a pre- publication marketing
campaign. Unfortunately, I cannot since he misquotes me, trivializes the millions of Americans
who need ADA's protections, and challenges the integrity of the U.S. Equal Employment
First let me set the record straight: In my nine months as chairman of the EEOC I have
consistently remarked that many of the thousands of ADA claims filed not only have merit, but
often represent egregious and inexcusable discrimination. I have also freely acknowledged the
obvious fact that some charges do not clear the bar. This in no way denigrates the law. It simply
reflects a requirement, common to all of our civil rights statutes, that the agency must accept all
filings presented to us. Those that are not valid are dismissed early in our process.
In addition to misquoting me, Mr. Bovard mischaracterizes both the law and its implementation.
The ADA does not help people with petty impairments. It does not cover current illegal drug
users. It does not require employers to tolerate violence from an employee, disabled or otherwise.
And, it does not provide preferences for the disabled. Mr. Bovard's specious shop of ADA
horrors fails to disclose that most of the "cases" cited were never filed with the EEOC, and did
not go to court. And, in those few cases where a court did rule, in Carroza v. Howard County,
and in Myers v. Hose, for example, the system worked. In Carroza v. Howard County, both the
District Court and the 4th Circuit found that Ms. Carroza's repeated rude outbursts and loud
denunciations of her supervisors were not protected by the ADA and were proper grounds for dismissal.
And in Myers v. Hose, the courts concluded that Mr. Myers's high risk of losing consciousness
from uncontrolled diabetes made him unqualified to drive a bus. One of the foundations of the
ADA is that an employer can hire the most qualified person for the job. The law simply states that
a person with a disability must be considered "qualified" if he or she has the skill, education and
experience for the job, and can perform the essential job functions either with or without a
reasonable accommodation. And, because the bipartisan architects of the ADA were keenly aware
of the concerns of business when crafting the law, employers are not required to provide
accommodations that pose an undue hardship on the operation of the business. Recent survey
data show that 69% of reasonable accommodations by a major employer cost nothing, and
another 28% cost less than $1,000.
Gilbert F. Casellas
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission