NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Vision Impairment Triggers Disabilities Act

June 22, 1998

Americans who were aware of the incident were stunned when the Clinton administration bought suit last year against United Parcel Service because it refused to hire a driver who had sight in only one eye. The government contended the action constituted discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The case was not an isolated instance of the government's lack of concern with public safety, critics point out. The number of such cases is growing.

  • The city of Omaha may have to pay out $200,000 for refusing to rehire a former policeman who had lost sight in one eye and was suffering loss of peripheral vision in the other.
  • The Department of Justice extracted a $110,000 settlement from the city of Pontiac, Mich., after it withdrew a job offer to a firefighter who could only see out of one eye.
  • Also in Michigan, the Clawson Tank Co. lost its case after excluding from a hazardous job a worker who had lost an eye in an off-the-job incident -- reasoning the job could involve possible injury to the second eye, leaving the man totally blind.
  • Because of potential lawsuits, the city of Columbus, Ohio, had to water down its vision standards for potential employees in 1995.

The list continues:

  • Northwest Airlines is fighting a suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protesting the airline's refusal to hire a woman with vision in only one eye, whose job would be to drive maintenance trucks from one aircraft to another at the Milwaukee, Wis., airport.
  • A U.S. appeals court has given the go-ahead to a lawsuit against a Hawaiian passenger airline for failing to hire a pilot with vision in only one eye -- since the Federal Aviation Administration has not banned persons with monocular vision from flying planes.

Source: Walter Olson (Manhattan Institute), "In the Land of the ADA, the One-Eyed Man Is King," Wall Street Journal, June 22, 1998.


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