A few common phrases found in job descriptions may sometimes be illegal.

And there are 4 things you can do to help fix the problem.

The story of how David Perry went from medieval history professor to disability rights journalist is not what you'd call typical.

Nine years ago, Perry's son was born with Down syndrome. At the time, he didn't know a whole lot about disability rights, but he wanted to learn. He took his training and skills as a researcher to better understand Down syndrome and other forms of disability. It was a more recent event, however, that set Perry on his current path.

About three years ago, Perry heard the story of Ethan Saylor, a man with Down syndrome who was shot and killed by police officers. In reaction to that tragedy, Perry took the knowledge he'd gained over the previous few years and used it to write about the discrimination and violence people in the disabled community face every day.


"It's become my life's work," he says.


Perry's children dance in the family's kitchen. Photo by David Perry, used with permission.

Have you ever seen something along the lines of "Must be able to lift 25 pounds" on a job ad? Those types of job requirements are the subject of Perry's latest article.

Sometimes, those requirements make perfect sense. For example, on a listing for a job stocking shelves with items that weigh up to 25 pounds, it'd be reasonable to ask job applicants to be able to complete that task. But what about an office desk job? Or maybe a position as a teacher? Or, well, anything that's not by definition "manual labor"?

Perry's latest article tackles what happened when the kind of group you'd expect to be aware of this issue, a disability rights organization called the Arc of Texas published a job listing that included the type of language that would exclude large numbers of disabled people from applying for, or securing, the job.

"The problem comes when these kinds of rules get made essential," Perry tells Upworthy. "If the main point of the job is to be good at working on a computer, as so many jobs now are, then that's what's essential, not being able to restock the coffee in the break room."

Disability Pride Parade in New York in 2015. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images.

Isn't that already illegal? Yes. But without enforcement, it doesn't mean much.

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. The law — which offers up a host of employment and other protections on the basis of disability — is great. It's a powerful tool. However, it often goes unenforced. The federal government isn't exactly combing through every job listing thrown up on Craigslist, nor does it have the resources to do so.

The goal, Perry says, then, is to find new ways for the government to incentivize employers to hire disabled workers, pointing to 2014's Workplace Innovation and Opportunity Act as an example of positive action being taken by the government on the incentive front.

President Obama speaks during a reception to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2015. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Just 19.2% of people with disabilities participate in the labor force, and physical requirements are extra obstacles.

People without disabilities, on the other hand, participate in the workforce at a rate of 68.1%. Even for those with disabilities who are actively employed or looking for work, their unemployment rate is more than twice that of the rest of the population.

Job descriptions and requirements like this are just one of many problems keeping people with disabilities out of the workforce, but they're also one of the most easily solved.

Andrew Pike, a veteran of the U.S. Army who was paralyzed in 2007 in Iraq, attends training with his new service dog Yazmin. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The truth is, many organizations simply may not be aware they're practicing discrimination by including those physical requirements in job descriptions.

Luckily, solving this problem in those cases may be as simple as having a frank discussion with those in charge or those in HR.

There are four things any person can do to get these kinds of conversations started:

1. Ask your company's human resources department if they have any boilerplate anti-disability clauses on job descriptions and applications. If so, try to explain how this may promote discrimination and discourage disabled applicants.

2. Start a conversation with your school, business, or organization about what you as students, employees, or volunteers can do to create an accepting workplace for people with disabilities.

3. Share articles and information with friends and co-workers on social media. Perry's How Did We Get Into This Mess? is a great resource, as is this piece by Olga Khazan at The Atlantic, as well as the resources page at RespectAbility.

4. And, finally, if you personally encounter a job ad that discriminates against you, you can always contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Obviously, you hope it doesn't have to come to this option, but it's good to know its out there.

Perry's 9-year-old son was born with Down syndrome. Photo by David Perry, used with permission.

In the case of Arc of Texas, all it took was a note from Perry for them to replace their physical and mental work requirements.

The disability rights organization adjusted their job postings to be more inclusionary and issued an apology. As writers like Perry and others continue to raise awareness about the struggles disabled people endure on a daily basis, we can all learn and push to make the world a better, more accepting, and more accessible place for all.

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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