Illiteracy is no laughing matter, but a recent lawsuit by a grounds crew supervisor at Normandy schools provides another striking example of how well-intentioned laws are often expanded to wreak havoc in our employment system.
The plaintiff, Tommie Robinson, 55, is claiming that his inability to read is a disability covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Now, the truth is it's his lawyer who is making this claim, as clearly Tommie wouldn't be able to read the Americans With Disabilities Act if he is truly illiterate.
Is this a case of a clever lawyer trying to make a buck, and even if justified, is the ADA really the proper tool to use to remedy the problem of someone not being able to read? By the way - here's his lawyer.
The suit was filed on his behalf by attorney Chris Chostner with the St. Louis firm of Schuchat, Cook & Werner. Chostner also declined to comment.
A Justice department spokesman says the case may have merit, but cites a case where dyslexia is ruled a disability, not illiteracy.
Cynthia J. Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said claims such as Robinson's were rare but not unheard of.
"Literacy could be considered an impairment and potentially could be covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act," she said. She cited a 1999 case in which an appeals court ruled in favor of a person with dyslexia who was seeking testing accommodations for the New York bar exam.
Here's the rub. Robinson is at a disadvantage, and is undoubtedly frustrated, perhaps even embarrassed by his inability to read. At the age of 55, it is a difficult thing to pick up, especially when you spent the last 50 years denying your need to be able to read.
I feel for the man, but I'm disgusted that he feels he has the right to sue us (the taxpayer) for his failure to adapt. Life is not a bowl of cherries, and we all have a responsibility to fit in - even when it's hard. If Tommie Robinson doesn't want to participate in his responsibilities of modern individual, he shouldn't get the rewards.
I hope he loses his lawsuit, and instead looks deep inside himself and finds the courage to tackle the adult literacy courses the Normandy schools have offered to pay for. Good luck, Tommie.