Click for audio The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Law of Unintended Consequences

Good intentions often result in bad laws. One example is Michigan’s Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, which was meant to help handicapped people get jobs. Instead, the law is paralyzing their workplaces with frivolous lawsuits.

The act was modeled after the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which Congress passed in 1990 to combat perceived discrimination against disabled employees. Unfortunately, both laws are written so vaguely they allow businesses to be sued simply for exercising common sense.

In one outrageous example, the federal law forced a trucking company to pay over $5 million to a driver who was fired because his epileptic seizures threatened the safety of pedestrians.

Big payoffs from lawsuits have encouraged even alcoholics to sue their employers for disability discrimination. In fact, the number of workers classified as disabled ballooned by 27 percent three years after the federal law passed.

Employment anti-discrimination laws hurt truly disabled people by making it risky and more costly for job providers to hire them. It’s time to reform harmful employment laws that punish businesses and limit job opportunities for the handicapped.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Joseph Lehman.