Right Wing Reopen “Patriots” use Americans with Disability Act as Excuse to not Wear Masks


 

With much of the country practicing best safety practices while a still-active COVID-19 presence continues lurking and working its will among minorities, the eldery, and the health compromised, it was only a matter of time before self-proclaimed ‘Patriots’ twisted this storyline into one of deep state fan fiction where any efforts to protect our most affected Americans are being framed as acts of tyranny.

This revolution of insanity may not be televised, but it will be shared and streamed. Virtual posts making their way across sites like Facebook are urging people to fight back from stores and restaurants that require face masks by suggesting their followers to claim unnamed disabilities and false medical conditions which would prevent them from wearing masks in public. According to these posts, it is a foolproof concept as the privacy requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act leaves little leeway for shopkeepers other than to bow down to the whims of the mostly MAGA maskless.

Or does it? According to Bambi Polotzola, the Executive Director for the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs, the answer is no. While businesses are required to provide “reasonable accommodations”, the key word is “reasonable”. Those that fantasize that by claiming a disability will leave them with uninhibited Carte Blanche to roam the businesses with a Joker-through-the-art-museum grin might not gain all the satisfaction they seek.

“So if a person says they cannot wear a mask, a business — lets say a store — they certainly could have another way they can provide you access to the goods and the services that they provide,” Polotzola remarked. “They could say that you could come into the store and wear a mask and engage in the shopping experience in that way. But if you cannot and it’s an ADA issue, then you can provide an alternate way that the person can shop.

“Just an example, they may order online or have some way to make an order outside of a store and have it brought to them. Those could be accommodations that person has access to the store but in a way that protects their health and protects the health of all the people that are in the store.”

The only requirement of a store is to provide accommodations via reasonable access, and not necessarily identical access.

The tightrope business owners walk between serving the truly disabled versus bowing to those who see Fox News logos dance in their eyes every time they mock the disabled with their self-serving and pretentious claims is a particularly tricky one.

The state director suggests that “(Business owners) need to have an alternative in place where they can still protect that (potentially disabled) person and themselves, their staff and their customers… You don’t want to make a really punitive measure that makes them not want to have access to whatever that service is. At the same time, they still need to ensure safety. They just can’t say, “Oh this person can’t wear a mask so all the rules are out the door.”

Accommodations could be as simple as offering for that person to have goods delivered, using take-out options for a restaurant order, or ordering goods via the internet.

It is a far cry from what the unmasked missionaries seem to be demanding. For example, in a popular video being passed around, a woman — who is filming the confrontation, of course — meets a grocery store employee at the door, who refuses to allow her inside without a mask. She quotes ADA law as she threatens to sue him. When he offers to take her list and shop for her while she waits, she refuses and demands to be able to shop freely in the store, because her purchases are, according to her, “private” and he would be invading her privacy. (see video below)

“You don’t have a right to privacy of shopping if you go into a store,” Polotzola states the obvious, while pondering how one could keep purchases private from all store employees, including cashiers. “Accommodations do not mean you have the exact same level of access as everyone else. There’s a certain line within the law that requires you to have a certain amount of access.

“For instance, you go to a stadium to go see an event — you have a wheelchair — there are certain places that have wheelchair accessible seating. In the Superdome you just can’t use a wheelchair and can have a seat anywhere in the stadium, but there are places you can go. To me I kind of align that the same way — you still have access to the stuff in the store but it doesn’t mean you have access in the same way that everyone else would have it.”

And what should happen if the conservative Karens of the world visualize legal paydays as they sue these small private businesses for the (ahem) ” disabilities”.
The sad truth is that it is extremely difficult for actual disabled persons to fight companies who skirt actual ADA laws, mostly due to the price tag that comes with litigation. Those with faux ailments might even have a more difficult time with their plans to sue those mom-n-pop stores and restaurants who were once the heroic backbone of those with conservative values.

“Actually, it is very difficult to hold anyone accountable for ADA accommodations,” notes Polotzola. “It’s just — it’s difficult to go through the legal process, and the cost of bringing anyone to face any type of penalties is cost-prohibitive. …If you are an ADA person who feels you haven’t gotten the accommodations really cost prohibitive to go into a legal battle with the business.”

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