Monday, October 8, 2018

Disability discrimination so blatant, it's hard to believe it's true

Ashley Waxman, 20, sat in the office of the Party City manager for a job interview. It was October 10, 2017, and when she dropped off her application for a sales associate position at the Nashua, New Hampshire store, court documents say, she was asked to go to the back room to speak with the hiring manager, Evelyn Hojilo.

Wakman has autism, and was accompanied by her job coach, Julie Sousa, as also reported by Disability Scoop. The lawsuit she eventually filed against Party City claims that once the manager realized that Sousa wasn't Waxman's mother but a job coach, the tenor of the discussion changed, the documents note: "Ms. Hojilo told Ms. Sousa that Party City had hired people 'like that'—people with disabilities who needed job coaches—in the past and it had not gone well."

According to the lawsuit, Hojilo also commented that "people like Ms. Waxman were not good workers because they slept on the job and played with props in the store and would listen to music with headphones instead of working."

It's hard to believe that anyone would say this, period, let alone say it directly to a person with disabilities. Imagine if these sort of remarks were directed toward a black man or an Orthodox Jew and you'll get just how discriminatory they are. The lawsuit claims that "by failing to hire Ms. Waxman because of her disability and/or need for the reasonable accommodation of a job coach, Party City violated the ADA." The manager in question no longer works at the Party City store. I'd like to think she was terminated because of her behavior.

Even if an employer doesn't voice discriminatory words, I'll bet there are a fair number who think them. It's pretty depressing to consider that as the parent of a teen with disabilities. I can't even imagine how adults with disabilities feel when they have to contend with this.

Despite this reported ugly incident, I'd like to think that slowly but surely, minds and perspectives are changing. I was so thrilled to see a recent video by my friend Pam, who vlogs about her son with autism, Ben, in the series The Education of B.T. The recent video she put up showed him job training at a local pizza parlor.

Here's to hope, once again. 

You can watch more episodes of Autism and The Education of B.T. here


  1. Great video. My son is 16 and our community is beginning to become more inclusive. My dream would be to have a farm or business and employ him and others like him. (my son wants to be a farmer ;) )

    1. So heartening to hear about your community. Maybe there will be farming opps for him! Unless you *want* to start a farm? :) My daughter participates in a nonprofit called Grow-A-Row—they grow veggies, then distribute them to people in need. Who knows, someday his passion for farming could help others.

    2. Take a look at Camphill --

  2. I just read an article about 30 minutes ago which a woman claims she was fired from her job because of a condition she has.

    Here is the link to it.

    1. Sad. I hope the media keeps bringing attention to these stories so employers will be aware that they'll get bad press if they don't treat employees with disabilities fairly—and that their actions can be against the law.


Thanks for sharing!

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