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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Odell Thurman: Fighting For the Employment Rights of the Disabled

We are all acutely aware of the mainstream media's relentless effort to undermine the public perception of the young Negro athlete. The constant barrage of negative press used as an offensive measure to cement the image of the troubled, wild and uncontrollable young Negro who disobeys laws and acts in a purely selfish and self gratifying manner. We read the formulaic 'stories' of young Negro X breaking law Y and being suspended for Z.

It's predictable, obvious...and old.

What we don't read about are the myriad of efforts and initiatives undertaken by young Negro athletes to not only better the lives of those in the communities from which they came, but to better the lives of the disenfranchised, mistreated and forgotten in all communities.

And, unfortunately, the few times we do read about them, they are cast in a speculative light with a nod towards the notion that the young Negro athlete is only trying to benefit himself.

That is where we are in society. We have been molded to believe that young Negroes can engage in nothing if it is not directly related to their own self interest.

The power of the media. It is unparalleled.

Former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker, Odell Thurman is currently leading a charge to fight for the employment rights of the disabled. He is calling attention to the application and following of the Americans with Disabilities Act by the NFL.

Thurman has hired legal counsel to investigate whether the NFL has been negligent in its hiring practice regarding employees that have disabilities.

Thurman’s lawyer, John J. Michels said. “You can hammer people for conduct that breaches your standards. But this is the functional equivalent of telling somebody that you believe has cancer, we’re not going to employ you.”

The NFL was fairly progressive in its racial integration of the league. The notion that NFL is now telling folks that have documented and accepted disabilities that they can not take part is disturbing. And saddening.

As part of Thurman's crusade for the employment rights of the disabled, Thurman has authorized his legal team to use himself as the case study.

Thurman's courage in allowing his disability to become public knowledge and to open his disability to public debate in an effort to advance the employment rights of the disabled can not be commended in high enough terms here.

“The crux of the complaint is that they have a disability and they are not being reinstated because of that disability,” said Paul M. Secunda, a labor and employment law expert.

Certainly, when an uninvolved law expert capsulizes the situation in such concise terms, we can understand clearly the baseness of the NFL's actions.

The realities of the situation seem clear:

He has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asserting that the N.F.L. declined to reinstate him because officials believe he is an alcoholic. That, his complaint says, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which categorizes people as disabled if they have a record of alcoholism and have received treatment.

Clearly, the NFL has some issues with its policies. And, a thorough legal review to ensure that they are not discriminatory or in violation of the individual rights granted by our government is necessary. This may be yet another case of the NFL deciding that their interests supersede the rights of their employees.

Those that would proffer the misguided and unfair supposition that Thurman's goal is simply to use the case and accusations of disability and employment violation to get back into the NFL certainly display no understanding of discrimination and clearly have allowed the media's unrelenting portrayal of young Negroes in a negative light to blind them to the humane and civically minded intentions of Thurman's campaign.

Secunda added: “Potentially, these situations are boundless as far as athletes getting in trouble with alcohol- and drug-related cases. It’s the larger debate in society. At what point do people have to take responsibility for their own actions?”

We couldn't agree more.

It's time the NFL is held responsible for their blatant discriminatory practices.

20 comments:

Dave the Wave said...

you must drink more than odell thurman to believe that!

ben said...

Alcoholism is a disease people! Until we eliminate it with a vaccine, these sick folk should not be denied gainful employment.

BTW, Any chance Maurice Clarett can join in on this suit?

uncommon sense said...

actually, clarett should qualify as being mentally disabled

censored said...

Are the mentally retarded fans of NOIS going to try to use this case to get jobs in the NFL?
It was actually roger goodell who put the bottles of ripple in thurmans hands....always the white man's fault...

Al_Sharpton's_Banana_Hammock said...

"It was actually roger goodell who put the bottles of ripple in thurmans hands...."

nice to see that censored isn't just a racist, but is also anti disability.

so, people that suffer from disabilities shouldn't be protected from discrimination?

real nice.

ultrasound tech said...

"nice to see that censored isn't just a racist, but is also anti disability."

either that, or he is of such stature in the medical community that he ruled against the fact that the medical community considers alcoholism a disease.

either way, he is obviously smarter than medicine/science.

Lil John's Pimp Cup said...

Possibly a misapplication of the ADA.

Current illegal use of drugs is not protected by the ADA. You do not need to hire or retain someone who is currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs. Tests for the current illegal use of drugs are permitted at any time prior to or during employment.

While people with alcoholism may be individuals with disabilities, the ADA still allows employers to hold them to the same performance and conduct standards as all other employees, including rules prohibiting drinking on the job.

Example: An employer may fire an employee who is drinking alcohol while on the job if it has a uniformly applied rule prohibiting such conduct.

But: There may be times when you may have to accommodate an employee with alcoholism. For example, an employer may have to modify a rule prohibiting personal phone calls at work for an employee with alcoholism who periodically has to contact his "AA sponsor," if the employee has a need to do so during work hours.

lgf said...

Some of you, I'm looking in your direction hammock, should read exactly how alcoholism is defined as a disease.

It does not have parity with other legitimate diseases.

lgf said...

correction, I confused hammocks' jigging-psychosis with tech's indubitable belief in the infallibility of the medical community.

Malcom Hex said...

It does not have parity with other legitimate diseases.
___________________________________


whatever! tell that to an alcoholic!

BigRicks said...

Mr. Thurman's suspension, and subsequent inability to find employment in the NFL for the 2007 season, have less to do with his disability and more to do with his blatant disregard of the rules (NFL Drug policy) and the law (DWI).

I understand that he completed the necessary punishment for the first offense, but it seems to me Mr. Goodell will not be allowing "repeat offenders" (especially when said offenses happen so closely, as he was popped WHILE he was serving his suspension) to make a living playing on Sundays.

Here's hoping that Mr. Thurman continues to spend his one-year vacation getting the help he needs (and has been receiving since accepting a plea deal on the DWI), And rather than file suit against the NFL, shape up and come back with avengence in the '08-09 season. I know a few teams who could use a talented, young linebacker.

nation_of_islam_sportsblog said...

"And rather than file suit against the NFL"

Sir, while you are entitled to debate the merits of his suit, most that have even a modicum of sensitity for the disabled look to this suit as the litmus test for the future rights of the disabled in this nation.

You can be against Mr. Thurman's legal action.

But if you are, that means you are against fair employment rights for the disabled.

Shame on you.

Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph said...

There was a South Park episode that dealt with this issue.

I don't care what people say, I do not consider alcoholism to be in the same class of disability as mental retardation. Thurman's problem is that he, to quote the episode I mentioned above, "racks disciprine."

He does not have a physical disability, he just drinks too much and then drives. There isn't a big conspiracy behind it. It is actually really simple, like most things in life.

And this is one of the most pretentious things I have read all week:

"But if you are, that means you are against fair employment rights for the disabled. Shame on you."

Just because I think Thurman deserves his punishment I am against fair employment rights for the disabled? I differentiate between Odell's drinking and a person with an ACTUAL disability.

madd hatter said...

"I don't care what people say, I do not consider alcoholism to be in the same class of disability as mental retardation. "

thank you for your opinion, doctor....i'll just tear up what the AMA has to say about it...

nation_of_islam_sportsblog said...

"I differentiate between Odell's drinking and a person with an ACTUAL disability."

Sir, normally, individual opinions have some value.

Unfortunately, this isn't a matter of your opinion.

The medical community has a stance on this.

That is what matters.

You call my statement pretentious...yet, you make the pretention of supposing that your opinion negates the findings of our science and medical communities and associations in this country.

How pretentious of you to call us pretentious.

Next, you are gonna tell us how to cure cancer, aren't you?

"I differentiate between Odell's drinking and a person with an ACTUAL disability."

Sir, normally, individual opinions have some value.

Unfortunately, this isn't a matter of your opinion.

The medical community has a stance on this.

That is what matters.

You call my statement pretentious...yet, you make the pretention of supposing that your opinion negates the findings of our science and medical communities and associations in this country.

How pretentious of you to call us pretentious.

Next, you are gonna tell us how to cure cancer, aren't you?

Lil John's Pimp Cup said...

None of you morons even know what you are even arguing about.

Yes, alcholism IS protected under the ADA. There is no debate to be had about this FACT.

The question is: Did the NFL's treatment of Thurman violate the ADA?

Someone (at least one) of you should actually take a quick look at the Act to see what it requires.

NOIS, I luv ya... but you haven't done your research on this one -- I believe you spanked a poster for the same omission on another thread.

nation_of_islam_sportsblog said...

"NOIS, I luv ya... but you haven't done your research on this one -- I believe you spanked a poster for the same omission on another thread"

Sir, is the question of whether or not the NFL violates the ADA going to be answered through the judicial process?

If so, that means the judge will decide, right?

The only homework we could do in that case....is to read the future.

We are righteous....not psychic.

Thank you.

Thank you very much

Lil John's Pimp Cup said...

hmmmm....

Oh, my bad... I thought you were offering your (ill-informed) opinion on the subject in your post...

I was confused... must have been another...

Andrew said...

While all of you argue about whether or not alcoholism is a disease or not, you actually missed the point in the article. Odell Thurman is not claiming or admitting that he is an alcoholic. I reapeat:

ODELL THURMAN IS NOT CLAIMING OR ADMITTING THAT HE IS AN ALCOHOLIC.

Rather, he's arguing that the NFL is TREATING him as an alcoholic. There is a huge, huge difference.