“Reasonable” Accommodation

Posted on Posted in Political Crap

I found something on Wikipedia today that just drew me right back into the thoughts about how ridiculous things have become when it comes to accommodation for various minority issues. In this case, disability:

In January 2015, Kmart agreed to pay $102,048 and other consideration to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission disability discrimination lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, Kmart offered a job at its Hyattsville, Maryland, store to a candidate with kidney disease on dialysis. The candidate advised the hiring manager that he could not provide a urine sample for the company’s mandatory pre-employment drug screening because of his medical condition, and requested a reasonable accommodation such as a blood test or other drug test that did not require a urine sample; Kmart refused to provide an alternative test and denied the candidate employment.

That’s fairly reasonable I suppose. We’re not talking about millions of dollars, and ultimately, Kmart isn’t really hurt all that bad by the suit, though, admittedly, it’s not doing all that well as a company anyway. Well, it seems reasonable at first, but let’s dig a bit deeper.

This is a candidate for what is very likely to be a quite active job, since Kmart is going to be chronically understaffed. We consider a “reasonable accommodation” in workplaces to be something that allows someone with a disability to perform their job on equal footing with an able-bodied person. This could be something like making sure all employee areas have ramps instead of stairs, for example. After all, someone in a wheelchair could potentially be just as good at stocking shelves or helping customers find products as someone walking around on legs, especially if they’re one of those insane bastards that play wheelchair basketball. Hell, I probably move around a lot slower than them.

This, however, is a different situation. We’re talking about someone who is incapable of producing urine. I looked around trying to figure out how exactly that works for hydration during a physically-demanding job. I mean, obviously someone’s still going to be able to sweat, but can you actually keep hydrated properly if you can’t piss? I did find a little information about this:

Of course Dialysis patients can improve hydration while limiting fluid intake by chewing ice or enjoying frozen fruits such as grapes. Still, patients should try to limit salt and if a Dialysis patient does exceed his or her fluid allowance, he or she may require an extra Dialysis Treatment Session to remove fluid buildup. What’s more, if they feel dehydrated during their Dialysis Treatments then Chronic Kidney Disease patients should discuss with their Patient Care Technician about adjusting Dialysate Solution Strength and targeting less fluid.

So, my suspicions were true, even for dialysis patients who are capable of creating some urine; You have to limit your fluid intake. That means that, unlike someone with functioning kidneys, those who have to deal with dialysis also have to deal with not being able to increase their water intake when they’re extra hot. So, increased work output has a low upper-limit, effectively. When there’s a crunch on, and this person who can’t even produce enough urine to pee in a cup to be tested for drugs needs to run around like a chicken with his head cut off along with everyone else, he’s going to either be less effective than his coworkers (thus not as good of a candidate as others), work too hard and suffer from heatstroke or dehydration-related sudden unconsciousness, or drink too much water, causing himself further harm.

There’s more to this, too. “Reasonable accommodation” has become less about giving people what they need to do their jobs and more about accepting lesser output from a worker due to age, race, sex, religion, or disability.  I know, some people think the latter two are redundant. Shut up; we’re moving on.  I’ve seen it many times in physical labor jobs: Many women get to enjoy a much less labor-intensive job than their male coworkers, but still earn the same wage. My last job was a good example. I busted my ass, as did my earlier-shift counterpart, lugging 80+lbs of stainless steel serving platters to and from sinks. The men in the kitchen generally did the physically-difficult jobs, such as the pots and pans, unloading the dishwasher, and putting things away. Now, obviously, the reason the men were expected to do this was due to the average physical differences between men and women, especially in regards to upper body strength. Unfortunately, this means that while you have the same title, you do not have the same job. While the male dishwashers did the heavy lifting, the up-high cleaning like the fume hoods, and pulling up the safety/comfort mats for deep-cleaning, the women were left in the plate-scraping line and loading position for the dishwasher.  Of course, that changed when my replacement was female, and they could no longer allow this gender divide, but for a very long time, only men were hired and placed in my position, because the physically-disabled woman who did the other job during my shift wouldn’t leave her position to someone who could handle the work.

This is part of the issue with sex-based divides in the workplace. One of the stupidest issues for feminism today, and let’s face it, it’s hard to choose, is the “air conditioner patriarchy”. If you’ve ever worked in an office, you know what I’m talking about, but I’ll explain anyway: Women complain that it’s too cold in the office even while the men are panting and sweating. Now before I get “NOT ALL WOMEN” on this, yes, there are a few women who are too hot in the office and a few men who are too cold. This just makes my point better though. It’s not too cold. You’re too cold. Everyone else could use a couple more notches down on the AC. This also ties in a bit with what I pointed out earlier about heat and work. If you’re too cold, you put on more clothes and get back to work. If you’re too hot, you’re screwed. The fact that most men are pretty-well covered up in a business-casual or dress-business environment, while women often choose attire that shows off their legs and chests, with elbow-length sleeves, means that men will typically be even warmer. You throw a pair of khakis or slacks and a long-sleeve shirt and tie on a woman, she might find that she’s not quite as cold. Instead, we get mid-thigh pencil skirts, 3″ heels, cleavage-showing frilly tops, and shivering women. Not that I mind the clothing, but when you’re suffering due to your choice in attire, don’t cry to the boss about the temperature.

This is just more of the same when it comes to bending over backwards for people. Of course we should be reasonable when it comes to people working. They’re trying to earn a living, dammit. That doesn’t mean that our society needs to put handicaps on the able and give into impossible demands from the disabled. Could Kmart have chosen instead to conduct a blood test? I suppose so, yes. Thing is, that costs extra money, and if someone can’t even urinate, they likely won’t supply an equal output of work for the same wage.

And that’s where we finally get into the evil thought that, maybe, just maybe, someone who has a lower output at a job could be paid a lower wage. Say you’re a stocker, but you can only stock about 75% as much as the 19 year old in the same amount of time. Is it really fair that he’s far more efficient, but gets paid the same as you? This is, of course, part of what goes into raises. Do a better job, get more money. Work more hours, get more money. Take fewer days off, get more money. Aggressively demand raises, get more money. This is also why the wage gap is a gigantic myth in modern society. Based on the assumption that women and men do equal work, but women somehow get paid less money, what would be the point of hiring men unless there’s a shortage of women for your job? The obvious answer is supposedly “sexism” and “patriarchy”. Thing is, that’s a very tiny minority of employers, most of whom would find themselves crashing and burning as the other, smarter employers who actually like money, are hiring up all the women.

And with that, I’ll put the discussion about modern feminism to the side for another piece.  We’ve come a long way, but we seem to have gone down the wrong path at the fork in the road.

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