Earlier this week, the EEOC published Veterans and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A Guide for Employers. In this guide, the EEOC asks the following question:
May a private employer give preference in hiring to a veteran with a disability over other applicants?
According to the agency, the answer is “yes.” The ADA does not prohibit “affirmative action on behalf of individuals with disabilities. Nothing prohibits an employer from hiring an individual with a disability who is qualified over a (presumably less) qualified applicant without a disability.
If you think about, this statement makes a lot of sense. Title VII prohibits reverse discrimination because it makes no differentiation on the basis of majority or minority status. It merely prohibits discrimination on the basis of race/sex/religion/national origin. The ADA, on the other hand, only protects the disabled. For one to be covered by the ADA, one must meet the specific statutory definition of “disability.”
If this difference was not already clear enough, the ADAAA added a section to the statute expressly stating that the ADA does not protect those who claim discrimination because of a “lack of disability.”
The EEOC’s guide is worth a quick read. It offers some excellent pointers on how to handle the recruiting, hiring, and accommodating of anyone with a disability — whether veterans or civilians.