This is Where I get Politically Incorrect

I will say this publicly right now. I do not like the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s not that I don’t respect Americans with disabilities, or that I want them to suffer in some horrible way. Not at all. I just don’t believe in the government legislating compassion and morality. And I disagree that opposing this law means I hate disabled people. Far from it. Requiring businesses to abide by certain standards (which may or may not help Americans with disabilities), developed by government bureaucrats who may or may not understand the needs of Americans with disabilities, does nothing but put an unfair burden on the businesses, which may or may not be able to afford compliance, and enriches the lawyers who just love taking these cases and sucking award money out of the victims as compensation.

Cato’s Walter Olson detailed some of the results in a 2010 article:

Thus in recent months a New Jersey jury ordered a rheumatologist to pay $400,000 for not providing a deaf patient with a sign language interpreter at his own expense; the Ninth Circuit ruled that the law may require movie theaters to provide captions and descriptions for blind or deaf viewers; a federal appeals court ruled that the nation’s paper currency unfairly discriminates against the disabled and must be redesigned (thus taking a different view from the National Federation of the Blind, which doesn’t think there’s a problem); a police dispatcher won a settlement in her lawsuit saying she was unfairly discriminated against because of her narcolepsy (tendency to fall asleep at inappropriate times); a large online tutoring service agreed to provide interpreters; miniature golf courses learned they will have to make 50 percent of their holes accessible to wheelchair users; and so forth. On Friday the Department of Justice announced that it would revisit the high-stakes question of whether and to what extent website operators must make their designs and services “accessible” to disabled computer users, perhaps in onerous and expensive ways.

In a more recent case – a report which prompted this blog post – a blind man with a service dog was told to leave a store. Michael Barnes has been completely blind since 2008, so he has to rely on his service dog to get around.

“Doc means a lot to me,” Barnes said. “Doc is not just a service animal. He’s my best friend, he’s my companion. When I’m out walking down the street, or when I’m walking through a store, Doc is my eyes. I tell him the direction, and he goes.”

That’s wonderful. These animals are beautiful, dedicated and very sweet. We have one at work, and he’s absolutely the BEST! Not only does he provide an invaluable service to his human, but he also makes the days a little brighter for the rest of us, when he allows us to pet him and play with him during his down times!

I understand the attachment. What I don’t like is that relationship fostering an attitude of entitlement that obligates and compels the rest of us to behave in a certain way.

Barnes said that he and a friend, Joseph Weaver, who are both blind and have service dogs, headed to a convenience store called Quick Pantry to get a snack on July 13th. It’s a store that Barnes said he’s brought Doc into many times before.

“The manager rudely comes up to us and starts yelling, ‘No dogs in here, no dogs near food,'” Barnes said. “We actually pulled out the Georgia guide dog law to show him that these are service dogs, and that we have a right to come in the store.”

Barnes and Weaver called police on the store clerk named Hiteshkumar Patel, but Patel still wouldn’t let the dogs into the store.

“All we want is the guy to allow us to come in, and to purchase our items. That’s all we wanted to do was go in, shop and leave,” Barnes said.

Now… I understand the ADA is the law. I may not approve of it, but I understand it’s the law of the land.

The manager was legally wrong, and the owner of the store told CBS Atlanta that he has since spoken with his employees and clarified the law to them.

CBS Atlanta went to Quick Pantry on Thursday and spoke with owner Pete Patel, who said that he has since clarified to employees that service dogs are allowed inside the store.

“On behalf of him and me, we didn’t know it was legal, that you can let them in,” Pete Patel said. “The last time, one time before they came in, that dog actually pissed in the aisle, that is the reason we said no.”

Patel has also clarified that the two are absolutely allowed in the store with their service dogs.  No problem, right?

Nope, apparently that’s just not enough for Barnes. He will continue to press charges.

“Being a blind individual is very difficult sometimes, and that is why we want to stand up for our rights as citizens of this wonderful country, and as Americans with disabilities, to show people that you cannot do this.” Barnes said. “This is something that you cannot do. If you’re going to run a business, you should abide by the law.”

So, the fact that his life is more difficult than many others, entitles him to come into an establishment with a service animal that is obviously not sufficiently trained not to soil the establishment’s floor, and have people clean up after him.

The fact that he is disabled entitles him to extra-special rights.

The fact that he is blind entitles him to continue pushing for the persecution of another American, who apparently quickly resolved the problem, educated his employees, and welcomes people with service dogs… because his life is hard.

The store owner already knows that “you cannot do this.” He has taken steps to rectify the issue, and will now abide by the law by allowing people with service animals into his establishment.

But, that’s not good enough, because Barnes wants retribution and he’s entitled to it.

And by God, he will use the Americans with Disabilities Act to make sure he gets his pound of flesh!

I have compassion for the blind and other disabled folks. If I were a business owner, I would absolutely allow service animals – with or without the Americans with Disabilities Act.

You know why?

Because I’m a decent human being, and because I don’t need forced compassion at the point of the government gun to do what’s right!

Yes, there are people out there who aren’t compassionate, who aren’t understanding and who don’t feel any compassion for others.

But is there really a law in this country banning insensitive jerkery?

Yeah, it’s called the ADA.

It doesn’t mandate that people be treated equally. It mandates that the disabled get special dispensations, and if they don’t, there’s a lawsuit in the making – even if the lack of special dispensation is unintentional on the part of a store owner or employer.

The unintended consequence?

Businesses that can’t afford the myriad of special accommodations will not open, and employers who are subject to lawsuits for perhaps firing an employee considered disabled under the ADA will likely just not hire the disabled, even if they eventually successfully ward off the lawsuit after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to the lawyers to defend them from the suit. Why bother starting a business when you must first comply with expensive regulations, and then are subject to expensive lawsuits if some professional litigant looking for ADA violations happens to stumble on your inconveniently-placed doorknob?

Why bother opening a restaurant, if some slimy pig is going use the ADA to sue you for not accommodating his fat ass with larger seats?

And why bother ensuring that your enterprise is safe, when you’re just going to get sued under the ADA for refusing to hire former drunks?

…Exxon gave ship captain Joseph Hazelwood a job after he completed alcohol rehab. Hazelwood then drank too much and let the Exxon Valdez run aground in Alaska. Exxon was sued for allowing it to happen. So Exxon prohibited employees who have had a drug or drinking problem from holding safety-sensitive jobs. The result? You guessed it — employees with a history of alcohol abuse sued under the ADA, demanding their “right” to those jobs. The federal government (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) supported the employees. Courts are still trying to sort it out.

Under the law, Barnes has the right to shop in a store with his service animal. He was prevented from doing so, and the problem was ostensibly rectified.

But Barnes will press charges anyway, and he will likely cost the store owner hundreds of thousands of dollars, and perhaps even force the closure of the store. Then no one will be able to shop there, including Barnes and his service dog, and several people will be out of a job and added to the unemployment rolls.

I guess Barnes doesn’t give a shit about this, as long as he gets his revenge!

Way to go, Mr. Barnes! If you think this will somehow gain you and other disabled people more sympathy, you’re sadly mistaken.

11 responses

  1. I’m with you Nikki. Accomidate where feasible, but don’t punish those who can’t. The damn act is more of a Lawyers goldmine than compassion.

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  2. You know whats funny? Opening up my new store, I have to conform to ADA, and make it as accessible as I can.

    Which means I need to put up braille.

    In a gun store.

    And I have no problem with following the law, but I truly do not think that a blind man/woman will be in my store any time soon to buy a gun.

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    1. Yeah…. kind of like a meeting I attended as a reporter, in which we discussed electronic highway road signs and television scrolling font alerts, when an advocate for blind people inquired how the blind were going to be accommodated within this new system. My first question was: Why? The blind don’t drive!

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  3. I’ve installed hundreds of ADA ramps on streets and highways. They’re within specs, or removed and replaced. The inspectors are anal about the correct width, slope and the detectable warning surface.

    All in all, most are never used and many don’t even attach to a sidewalk. They’re just there for those blind, or in a wheelchair, if they find a way to access the location.

    The cost? Around $2000 each and they’re all over the United States. It’s a huge waste, and the mandates for businesses are unconscionable wastes without any compensation for those that were forced to install the compliant fixtures. The amount of money wasted is astounding. .

    The ADA is out of control, needs to be scaled back to one bureaucrat and the people in Washington tarred in feather in droves for the madness they created.

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  4. ANY statute or regulation will be abused if the courts allow it to be abused.

    The courts are SUPPOSED TO act as checks and balances on the legislature and the executive. The problem is that, of late, they have failed miserably in their mission.

    The result is that some blind person who is pissed off at the world because he or she is blind will file the lawsuit, knowing that the courts will entertain it and allow him/her to use the threat of continued litigation to exact money from the victim business establishment.

    FDR was a cripple who, being pissed off at being a cripple, fucked up the whole world. Barnes can’t fuck up the entire world; the best he can do is to fuck up the Quick Pantry, so that is what he is now proceeding to do.

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  5. Penn and Teller’s episode of Bullshit on the ADA should satisfy anyone wanting to know how the ADA is being completely abused.

    Jerks that aren’t happy with establishment owners mending their ways to accommodate them need to get bent. Yes, being disabled is a tough row to hoe but that doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole about it. Wanting accommodation is give and take.

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  6. being a banker of over 50+ years I have seen the regulations from the government go absolutely crazy! While in Stuttgart Arkansas we were told that the “fed”s would be coming to our bank to check on the ADA compliance we had done. We panicked.
    I found a disabled guy in Little Rock who drove his vehicle over to the bank and did an inspection. He was in a wheel chair and had many answers for us and he did this on his own time and money. He made a list of things for us to do and they were not expensive. we got his report and no bill. he did suggest a contribution to a charity in LR.
    He gave us a list of his ability ratings, a picture of his car, a list of how he rated the banking experience as a handicapped person and a list of the things he suggested that we might do.
    He said that he was opposed to making businesses spend money for something not needed.
    The Feds (Examiners) showed up and were some what impressed that we had done this and made a couple of suggestions but we were in compliance.
    I doubt there are any others like that now, (handicapped or Feds)
    COLE.

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  7. The ADA, OHSA, EPA and all the rest were created for the sole purpose of enriching the lawyers. Look at tobacco and asbestos. The lawyers took one third to one half off the top and then the so-called “expert witnesses” took another third. Then court costs. In the end the “clients” ended up with Jack and Shit, and Jack grabbed what he could then ran out of town.

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  8. Hello Nicki,

    Love your blog, and I usually agree with your posts. This one though I do have some disagreement with. First i do agree that the ADA has been implemted in a way which lacks commonsense. Forcing business klike gunstores to post things in Braille is ridiculous, just as posting Braille notices in a fastfood drive through. The situation with the convience store could have been handled way better as well. For me, where the ADA does work, is in helping to preserve my ability to work. My situation is this; I have several medical conditions that make it very difficult for me to balance my health and my worklife. I have Type II Diabetes with Diabetic Gastro-Paresis, Celiac Disease, Chronic Migraines and Cluster Headaches, Stage IV Cirrhosis, and Bipolar-Disorder. Each of these medical conditions is covered under the Chronic Diseases portion of the ADA. Last year I missed nearly 6 months of work because I fell gravely ill, mainly due to the Gastro-Paresis and Celiac’s. It caused hospitalization 3 times, and long process of diagnosis. I took FMLA which protected my job. But I did go from fulltime with benefits to part time with loss of my health insurance. Without the ADA, I would have lost my job, and been left to apply for unemployment. I have tried very hard to get back to fulltime, and search for a different job, so far to no avail.
    i haven’t formally applied for ADA status, but I do know it has helped. Yes the ADA has problems, it makes people lawsuit happy, and some do abuse it but for me it has at least kept me working.

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    1. WkAvngr – I understand and I sympathize. I have migraines as well – the type that make me go blind for a while due to aura – and they’re exacerbated by a gluten intolerance, because they’re triggered by glutens and stress. I’m not even remotely in the same boat as you are, but I definitely understand that the ADA has helped you. I’m sure you’re grateful for it, and please don’t take this as me being heartless.

      IF, in fact, you were to be let go for missing all those days, that would mean that the company found greater value in not employing you any longer than it did in keeping you around on a part time basis. But what this law did is essentially FORCE your employer to keep an employee whose work the employer saw little to no value in keeping. I’m not saying you didn’t do good work – I don’t know you, so you may very well do excellent work! However, the value of your work to your employer may be different, and that is up to the employer to decide. The law took the decision out of the employer’s hands and forced him to keep an employee he may not have otherwise kept. Again, I’m not trying to sound heartless – just logical.

      If you owned a business, and decided to lay off an employee whose work you felt didn’t have the value required to keep him, would you want the government forcing you to keep him anyway, because he was ill?

      So while the ADA worked well for you and helped you, the question becomes: at whose expense?

      I do hope you find other employment soon. Job hunting is a bitch even without all the challenges you have to overcome.

      That said… If everyone who commented here agreed with me, it would be a very boring blog indeed.

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