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The Autism Spectrum: Justice Remains Blind

If you work in Human Resources - or you've ever been in a leadership role where part of your job duties include hiring and firing - then you know how tricky navigating the world of employment law can be. Myriad issues go into hiring practices (and employment in general). Do it wrong, handle problems poorly, or simply face a situation that goes south, and you can find yourself facing a lawsuit.

We know, because we often fight for justice in the workplace, for people who suffer retaliation, discrimination and harassment.

Though he doesn't explicitly say so, that's partly why 50,000 people with autism need jobs this year, as Jeff Chu writes for Inc. Magazine. Hiring is always a risk, even those who appear to be perfectly "normal," as one would have it. Chu argues that a growing number of adults on the autism spectrum want jobs but can't get them, likely because traditional employers view people with autism as "disabled" to one degree or another, and don't want to take on the risk of hiring them.

Entrepreneurship to the Rescue

Chu writes about entrepreneurs who have built businesses that proactively hire people on the autism spectrum (a growing number of adults in the US). These are real businesses: car washes, bookstores, bakeries. In many of these businesses, employers have tailored their operational processes to the needs of these employees, and it appears to be working.

Most importantly, these businesses aren't charities, but are viable money-making enterprises; this helps to ensure the overall permanence of the jobs themselves and provides a measure of dignity to those who work these jobs.

In our line of work, we often help people after-the-fact. In other words, a woman suffers a demotion shortly after having become pregnant, or a man continually suffers a pattern of abuse perpetrated by a superior after having blown the whistle on unethical or illegal conduct. We are passionate about these kinds of cases because we can often take concrete steps to do something about it, to get justice and right a wrong.

In short, it's nice to see these entrepreneurs making big strides toward employing people who otherwise cannot find jobs because they are not perceived as "normal," or who do genuinely have problems that disqualify them from working in certain fields, yet through the entrepreneurs' efforts, have managed to build a place for them.

Big Strides, But Discrimination Still Quite Real

This is also a good opportunity to remind employers that the law against retaliation, discrimination and harassment applies just as equally to those on the autism spectrum as those who aren't. In other words, for people on the autism spectrum, justice shall remain blind.

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