No Rights without Remedies
A requirement that employers meet quotas is a good example of how remedies support sustainable change.
Just like any other law, disability rights laws will not be effective without consequences that are enforced when the law is broken. A true remedy has two parts:
1. There must be a way for the enforcement agency to monitor whether people are actually complying with the law.
Common ways of monitoring for compliance include: requiring entities covered by the law to file reports; soliciting and investigating complaints from people with disabilities and from the public on breaches of the law; and sending out agency representatives -- openly or “under cover” -- to check on compliance firsthand.
2. Once a violation of the law is found, the agency must have the recognized authority to enforce the law’s consequence.
Common consequences include: paying a fine; paying monetary damages (compensation for harm done) to a person with a disability; forcing an entity to remove the existing barrier and/or to comply with the law in the future; or some combination of these.
The consequences of breaking the law have to be significant enough to incentivize compliance with the law by covered entities, whether they are individuals or large companies. The price of breaking the law cannot be so easy that entities will be willing to pay repeatedly while ignoring the law. In other words, the law has to have “teeth”: it has to have a “bite” if you don’t obey it. In addition to financial consequences for non-compliance, the responsible entity should also have to remedy the situation. This provides not only incentive, but a mechanism for enforcing the changes that will enable people with disabilities to participate in every level of society.
If a large company discriminates against a person with a disability, the fine that they have to pay must be significant enough to motivate them to change their behavior positively in order to avoid future fines, rather than just find better ways to not get caught.
A number of countries have laws that require government agencies and private businesses to meet employment quotas for certain minority groups, including people with disabilities. The purpose of requiring that a certain number of percentage of employees be people with disabilities would be to increase employment opportunities of people with disabilities, and would also have the effect of dispelling stereotypes by increasing interaction among people with and without disabilities.
The employment quota will only be effective if:
- There is a significant consequence, such as a fine, for failing to meet the quota.
- There is a mechanism defined for a person with a disability to make an official complaint to an enforcement agency or to judicial courts about an employer’s failure to meet the quota.
- There is active investigation of complaints or non-compliance with the law.
- There is a mechanism to actually collect an imposed fine and/or ensure that the employer will change practices to meet the requirements.
- Employers cannot easily circumvent the purpose of the law, for example by hiring employees with minor impairments such as farsightedness and classifying them as employees with disabilities, or by hiring people with disabilities for lower pay than other employees or restricting their opportunities for advancement.