27 01 2008

Work is an inalienable right

Palladium-Item – Richmond, Indiana


In the Declaration of Independence, our beloved country’s forefathers declared for every person the inalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The right to work and pursue a job or career of our liking is for the benefit of all these inalienable rights. It is a very important inalienable right in itself. To deny anyone who has a desire to work is total discrimination against that person’s inalienable rights.
This is why I’m speaking out against discrimination of my people, the mentally ill, handicapped and disabled. I’m especially speaking out for their inalienable right to work. In so doing they may have a better chance to be productive citizens.

One factor in which discrimination is used against the mentally ill, handicapped and disabled is many employers’ unfair hiring practices. Jane Zimmerman is an employment consultant for Community Connections, an agency which seeks jobs for people with disabilities. When asked if discrimination is a big factor when trying to find her clients employment, she explained, “Absolutely: The work environment has become more competitive for businesses. They are required to be more productive with fewer resources. Therefore they may be less likely to hire a disabled person because of these higher demands.”

Also when asked how difficult discrimination makes it to get a person with a disability a job, she replied, “It is more challenging because of preconceived notions that a disabled person may be less productive. I have to convince employers that the person is capable of handling the job responsibilities. Sometimes the person is unable to be a self-advocate and this makes my job more difficult. Not all disabled fall into this category. Some disabilities are not as noticeable as others.”

Employers need to come to the realization that many disabled people can work if given the chance.

According to the American Disabilities Act, if companies employ a disabled person they can get a tax break for hiring that person. This is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program, or WOTC.

So, to all you employers in Richmond, give us back our inalienable rights and hire people with disabilities. Make this beloved country of ours a real democracy. By hiring people with disabilities you will be doubly blessed, for our forefathers and signers of the Declaration of Independence will smile on you.

Thomas Bowman, a member of the Community Council on Disability Awareness, is a student at Indiana University East and an author.




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