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Amusement park faces criticism for failing to hire worker with special needs

Dorney Park, an amusement park in Pennsylvania, recently faced strong criticism for failing to hire a disabled worker with special needs because interviewers found that he did not “fit in.”  The disabled worker, Chris Emery, had reportedly worked for Dorney Park the past 12 seasons but this year Dorney Park used a new hiring process and they decided not to hire him.  To their credit, after public pressure, Dorney Park has now apparently agreed to offer Emery employment.

Dorney Park’s new hiring process took place in an interactive group setting where interviewers required Emery to write statements to describe himself, read and respond to information about potential encounters with guests, and participate in a group exercise to build a Lego train.  Due to his disability, Emery has trouble reading and writing; he also is shy with people he does not know.  Unlike past years, Dorney Park did not permit Emery’s mother to accompany him during the interview.

In the past several years, Emery had worked at Dorney Park cleaning restrooms.  His mother did not understand what building a Lego train had to do with her son’s ability to clean restrooms.  Indeed, it appears that Emery had done a fine job over the past 12 seasons and that is probably why Dorney Park has now offered to let him work there.

These types of seemingly neutral hiring processes violate the law if they disproportionately screen out workers with disabilities and do not assess whether applicants are qualified for the job.  Requiring someone to build a Lego train to determine whether they can clean restrooms seemingly fails this legal test.

What happened at Dorney Park is not that uncommon.  The attorneys at the Maine Employee Rights Group have decades of experience representing workers with disabilities.  If you are a Mainer with a disability that has lost a job opportunity because of a seemingly neutral hiring process, you should contact us to learn more about your rights.