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St. Mary's Law Journal

Publisher

St. Mary's University School of Law

Abstract

The Commission on Human Rights Act may help prevent discrimination against handicapped individuals and ensure they have adequate employment opportunities in Texas. Employment discrimination against handicapped individuals often happens because of unfair job qualifications, or fair qualifications they would be able to meet if employers made reasonable accommodations. Establishing legal mechanisms to ensure fair opportunity for handicapped citizens to obtain employment is a comparatively new goal of American jurisprudence. The Federal Rehabilitation Act in 1973 made significant progress in fair employment practices. Texas made more progress by establishing the Commission on Human Rights Act, which creates a commission in charge of enforcing the prohibition of certain kinds of discriminatory employment practices. Its aim is to prohibit employment discrimination based not only upon handicap, but upon race, color, religion, sex, age, and national origin as well. The Commission on Human Rights Act will significantly impact the law of handicap employment discrimination in at least two ways. First, it provides state and local forums for administrative disposition of complaints, whereas its predecessor only set forth substantive rights. Second, because the Texas statute applies to a significantly broader range of employers, the statute will give substantially greater numbers of handicapped people statutory protection. However, the statute may be unable to fully effectuate its purpose unless the courts cautiously apply the two major exceptions to the general proscription of discrimination. Lastly, Texas should establish a duty of reasonable accommodation into the statute, or else many who would otherwise succeed at a job may be unable to gain employment.

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