Michael Costantino was born without a left hand. Should
the Transportation Security Administration have hired him as an airport
screener? Or, has it violated the ADA by refusing to hire him because of his
missing hand? Eva Tahmincioglu reports the details at MSNBC.com:
After a physical examination by the agency, he got a
notice stating he did not qualify for the position because of the "congenital
loss of right hand." ...
But an official, who demanded anonymity, said the congressional
act that created the TSA in 2001 "gave the agency the leeway to create its own
physical qualifications for the Transportation Security Officer position, and
potential employees have to meet certain physical standards to meet those
qualifications." The law requires that screeners "possess basic aptitudes and
physical abilities, including color perception, visual and aural acuity,
physical coordination, and motor skills."
This case will hinge on whether Costantino could perform
the essential functions of the transportation security officer position,
including patting down passengers and checking luggage. As this recent case from the Northern District of Ohio makes
clear, the ADA does not require an employer to restructure the essential duties
functions of a job as a reasonable accommodation.
I would argue that moving passengers through the line as
quickly and safely as possible is also an essential function of this position.
It is probably safe to assume that Costantino could screen passengers and
luggage one-handed, albeit more slowly. If his limitation would cause him to
take longer to screen passengers and cause an unneeded back-up, would he be
performing all of the job's essential functions? Before you slam me for being
insensitive, answer these questions honestly. Do you want to be in the
unnecessarily long security line when you're trying to catch your flight? Or,
would you be murmuring under your breath for the line to move faster as your
eyes dart between the line, your watch, and your boarding pass?
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