The EEOC recently took steps to remind employers that the Americans With Disabilities Act also protects workers with disabilities that are intellectual, not just physical.

First, the EEOC held a hearing where experts testified that stereotypes about the mentally challenged are particularly strong. One statistic: The employment rate among the intellectually disabled is half that of people with other kinds of disabilities.

The EEOC followed up by suing media giant Gannett for firing an employee in Tempe, AZ, after she returned from a mental disability leave.

Shameful abuse
Separately, the EEOC sued an Iowa turkey processor for abusing 31 mentally challenged workers.

Co-workers called them “retarded,” and hit, kicked and even handcuffed them. Once, disabled workers were forced to carry heavy weights as punishment. Supervisors ignored their complaints.

Of course, you don’t allow any mentally challenged people you employ to be subjected to this kind of abuse. But are you sure they aren’t the targets of more subtle discrimination?

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