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Florida lawmaker seeks to revive controversial job opportunity

It can be difficult for people with disabilities to find work. For instance, we recently wrote about a woman with dwarfism who was fired from Starbucks because her height was thought to create a safety hazard for both employees and customers. The EEOC helped her settle a resulting lawsuit alleging wrongful termination and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

While it can be hard to find work, one Florida legislator's attempt to create jobs for little people has been met with harsh criticism. Republican state representative Ritch Workman recently proposed a bill to allow the practice of "dwarf-tossing" back into Florida bars.

Dwarf tossing was a competition that was once popular in South Florida. Bar patrons would take turns trying to throw a padded little person the farthest distance. The practice was outlawed in 1989, and those who do it can now be fined up to $1,000. Bars who allow dwarf-tossing events risk losing their liquor license.

Workman says he does not condone the practice, but thinks that it should be legalized again in order to give little people more choice in how to make their living. He adds: "some people like to do it, and some people like to get paid to be participants in it. At best, this should be a local ordinance . . . it's not the state's purview."

A representative of Little People of America disagrees with Workman's legislation. She says that if he really wants to help little people, he should instead focus his efforts on eliminating disability discrimination and working for better workplace accommodations for little people. These efforts would be "more productive (than) legalizing an activity that threatens the safety and dignity (of) people with dwarfism."

It is doubtful that the legislation will gain much support, but stranger things have happened. At the very least, the controversy draws attention to the problem of disability discrimination in Florida workplaces.

Source: Fox News, "Florida Lawmaker Seeks to End Ban on 'Dwarf-Tossing,'" Oct. 7, 2011

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