The Arc of Texas, an organization dedicated to inclusion, advocacy and disability rights, is hiring a new CEO. Their job announcement, as originally posted, made one thing clear: Disabled people need not apply.
Towards the bottom of the application, a strange list of criteria under the headline, “Physical and Mental Requirements,” included “Seeing, Hearing/Listening, Clear speech, Ability to move distances between offices and workspaces, Driving.” The next post, for another well-paid leadership position, added “manual dexterity, lifting up to 25 pounds, carrying up to 25 pounds” to the list, making it even more restrictive.
What’s a disability rights organization doing pre-emptively discriminating against disabled individuals in their most important hiring? And is this kind of language — which can be found in job postings from the tech sector, the non-profit world, and countless academic jobs — even legal?
Samuel Bagenstos, now an expert on disability law at the University of Michigan and a former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the US Department of Justice, called The Arc posting “a pretty blatant violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
“I really thought it was a bad joke, not a serious job advertisement,” he wrote me in an email. “The ADA prohibits employers from adopting selection criteria that screen out classes of individuals with disabilities unless the criteria are job-related. There is no strong business reason why the CEO or the advocacy director should have to be able to see, hear, drive, lift or carry. These aren’t manual-labor jobs.”