A bill preventing discrimination against disabled people is being stalled by business lobbyists at the state legislature. Jackie Alfonso, Executive Director of the United Handicapped Federation said, “Employers are using a glitch in the present law to fire some disabled people. A bill, which would prevent this practice, has been side tracked to the Senate Employment Committee where it can be killed.”
Under present law a worker who is refused the opportunity to return to work because of a disability cannot challenge that refusal in court if the worker previously had collected workers’ compensation. “We know of a case where an employer has fired a qualified disabled woman because he didn’t like the way she looked.” This particular person cannot file a discrimination claim because she once collected workers’ compensation,” said Alfonso.
According to the Minnesota Human Rights Department, almost one third of the 675 disability cases brought to the attention of the department in the last two years were thrown out because of this interpretation of the law.
“There is even evidence that employers are applying for workers’ compensation over the employee’s objection so they can fire the employee,” said Alfonso.
The discrimination prevention bill is authored by two St. Paul DFLers, Senator Dick Cohen and Representative Howard Orenstein.