Author Topic: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?  (Read 21417 times)

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Offline Connecteur

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It may or may not be illegal (depending on the country) to discriminate against color-blindness, but I doubt many employers would be comfortable with an employee who can't read resistors or trace colored wires.  I suspect (as with age-discrimination) other reasons are cited for passing over a potential employee in the hiring process.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 03:49:04 am by Connecteur »
 

Offline jpanhalt

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2016, 03:46:58 am »
You are asking a question at law without indicating which country's laws.   The answer is simple: it depends.

John
 

Offline JacobPilsen

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2016, 04:09:57 am »
Imagine 64 year old coalminer.
 

Online blueskull

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2016, 04:17:37 am »
If if doesn't hinder the job, then I would assume it is not really legal, at least not ethical to discriminate color blind people.
If the job is to assemble PCB, or to repair PCB that really requires reading color codes, then I would say it makes sense to discriminate color blind people.
The same thing to age discrimination. Not hiring a 50-year old in a supermarket is not legal, at least not ethical, but not hiring a 50-year old in a SWAT team makes perfect sense.
 

Offline Connecteur

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2016, 04:19:36 am »
If if doesn't hinder the job, then I would assume it is not really legal, at least not ethical to discriminate color blind people.
If the job is to assemble PCB, or to repair PCB that really requires reading color codes, then I would say it makes sense to discriminate color blind people.
The same thing to age discrimination. Not hiring a 50-year old in a supermarket is not legal, at least not ethical, but not hiring a 50-year old in a SWAT team makes perfect sense.
I wasn't very clear whether I meant "right" or "legal right."  Regardless of laws, do employers have a right?
 

Offline CJay

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2016, 04:19:52 am »
In the UK.

I don't think any law would make an employer take someone who was at risk of not being able to do a job safely or endangering colleagues/clients etc.

As an employer you have to make reasonable adjustments to enable someone to do a job and you're not allowed to discriminate on grounds of disability at interview/advertisement stage but giving all candidates a practical test to assess their abilities and knowledge is perfectly reasonable.

If there is no way to make those reasonable adjustments then it's simply not possible to employ that person and while it could be tricky if they were litigous they'd have a hard time proving it unfair in court, that's what you (should) have insurance for.

To have the employer obligated to make those reasonable adjustments an employee would have to declare any disabilities they want adjustments made for at time of employment.

In the UK armed forces it would be an immediate rejection if you are colour blind.
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Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2016, 04:30:00 am »
I've never heard of an employer concerned about whether their employees can read resistors.

Kids don't even learn that, anyway.

Who even uses through-hole resistors anymore?

And you can't read the damn chip resistors.  You don't need to, nor do you want to: you shove the labeled reels into the pick-and-place and let it do your job at a fraction of the hassle and cost!

Anecdote: had a coworker with R-G ambiguity.  He got on just fine.  Usually used a meter to check resistors, when he had to (breadboarding and prototypes).  Since we were also doing UI design in that cell, his input was quite valuable, from time to time -- it is good UI design to change, not just the color between objects, but the intensity, or style or face, too.  This makes your UI unambiguous for the most possible users.

Now that I've mentioned it -- quick quiz: how many websites have you seen, just today, which have ghostly gray text on a gray-white background?  (Most offending websites are trying to be "trendy", but they break the style rules of those they would try to emulate, such as Apple.  Apple frequently violates their own design rules, by using less-than-preferred contrast levels!)

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Online blueskull

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2016, 04:37:09 am »
I wasn't very clear whether I meant "right" or "legal right."  Regardless of laws, do employers have a right?

I'm biased, so don't quote me on this.
Personally I don't believe in the human right thing. I believe one has rights only if he has the power to practice his rights.
In other words, if one can prove to the society that he can do some contribution, then the society should treat him well. If he can't show his merit to other people, no one is obligated to give him anything.
Had I have any color disability, I would not apply for a PCB related job at the first place.

Also, even if there is a law preventing this, there are lots of loopholes. For instance, the employer can't just tell the applicant to f* off because of disability, but he can set up a test to rule out people he doesn't like, and it is perfectly legitimate.
If one really wants, there are always bugs to exploit in legal system, and as long as you have money to pay lawyers (at least more than the money the applicant pays his lawyers), I see no reason why an employer can't do this.
 

Offline coppice

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2016, 04:38:02 am »
It may or may not be illegal (depending on the country) to discriminate against color-blindness, but I doubt many employers would be comfortable with an employee who can't read resistors or trace colored wires.  I suspect (as with age-discrimination) other reasons are cited for passing over a potential employee in the hiring process.
You are allowed to refuse a job to someone who can't do it, for whatever reason. I've worked with a number of colour blind engineers, and in the days of colour banded resistors and capacitors it could be a pain having parts shoved under your nose every few minutes, and being asked for their value :). I've never heard of anyone being refused employment because of this, though. On the other hand if you are hiring someone for a job involving the assessment of image quality, colour blindness might make a candidate utterly unsuitable.
 

Offline Macbeth

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2016, 04:40:33 am »
Most colour blindness is very minor. My own case in point I have no trouble with resistor colour codes or wiring at all, but when I was 10 the school nurse diagnosed me as red/green colourblind and told my mum "not to worry, it just means he can't work in electronics when he's older" as if that was just a triviality! Sorry but this enraged me seeing as electronics was my hobby and the profession I wanted.

My electronics teacher in secondary school was extremely colour blind - IIRC he could only see everything in B&W and shades of blue.

Having said that, my colour blindness hasn't been an issue whatsoever in previous jobs. I imagine it would be for the military though, they are sticklers for such stuff.
 

Offline chris_leyson

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2016, 04:51:21 am »
I would say it depends on the work and the employer but I think yes they do have a right to discriminate. When I was a student back in the early 80's two of us got a six month placement at a defence establishment. On the first day we both had a medical exam, nothing rigorous, they just checked reflexes and a colour blindness test. That afternoon I wondered where my mate had got to, apparently he was colour blind and he didn't even know it, so it couldn't have been that bad but they sent him home on his first day.
 

Offline jpanhalt

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2016, 04:59:52 am »
If if doesn't hinder the job, then I would assume it is not really legal, at least not ethical to discriminate color blind people.
If the job is to assemble PCB, or to repair PCB that really requires reading color codes, then I would say it makes sense to discriminate color blind people.
The same thing to age discrimination. Not hiring a 50-year old in a supermarket is not legal, at least not ethical, but not hiring a 50-year old in a SWAT team makes perfect sense.
I wasn't very clear whether I meant "right" or "legal right." Regardless of laws, do employers have a right?

Again, with the stipulation "regardless of laws," employers always have a "right" to discriminate against employees for any reason whatsoever.   They don't even need a reason.  It is called the "Golden Rule."

Second, non-color-blind people often have a serious misconception of that disability.   It is extremely rare for a person to lack all cones and to be truly "color blind."   In reality, "color blind" people see colors, but the colors and shades are different.   That condition can be detected by tests that use mixtures of colors.

I have known several color blind people, including my father.  Every one of them did quite well with adapting to their condition.   Of course, everything in our home was painted either brown or white. ;D

More seriously, early in my career, a mentor was R/G color blind.  Nevertheless, he was one of the best people I have known at reading a Gram stain, which is basically orange-red (eosin) and blue plus shape.  For many years, however, laboratory accrediting agencies required testing for color blindness.  Eventually, they caught on to the fact that color blind people really are not blind to color and there was no reason to continue that practice of testing as a requirement.

So, does anyone know whether a color blind person can read resistor codes? (Consider only the most common type of R/G color blindness.)  Do they find it easier or harder to distinguish violet from brown than a non-color blind person?  Frankly, I pull out the ohmmeter to do that, and I am not color blind.

As for legality in the USA, it is generally illegal do discriminate against an employee with any disability so long as that disability does not affect job performance after "reasonable accommodation" has been made. I suspect providing the employee with an ohmmeter is well within what would be considered reasonable accommodation.

John

 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2016, 05:06:46 am »
Second, non-color-blind people often have a serious misconception of that disability.   It is extremely rare for a person to lack all cones and to be truly "color blind."   In reality, "color blind" people see colors, but the colors and shades are different.   That condition can be detected by tests that use mixtures of colors.

To see how some common forms of colour blindness affect colour vision, you can upload a photo of your own to http://www.etre.com/tools/colourblindsimulator/
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2016, 05:17:33 am »
If if doesn't hinder the job, then I would assume it is not really legal, at least not ethical to discriminate color blind people.
If the job is to assemble PCB, or to repair PCB that really requires reading color codes, then I would say it makes sense to discriminate color blind people.
The same thing to age discrimination. Not hiring a 50-year old in a supermarket is not legal, at least not ethical, but not hiring a 50-year old in a SWAT team makes perfect sense.
THREE THINGS

- there is such a thing as an ohmmeter. that can be used to establish the value of a resistor
- most electronics is surface mounted : by bye color code...
- burnt resistors are typically uniformly black ... no trace of color code remaining so good luck finding out what it was.

so the discussion ' needs to read color code to repair' is useless....
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Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline Connecteur

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2016, 05:18:54 am »
What about tracing colored wires?
 

Offline sleemanj

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2016, 05:35:47 am »
In NZ if colour vision was a valid requirement of the job then yes you could be rejected, if not it would be illegal to do so on that basis.  It would be tough to show it was  required  in electronics I think.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 05:37:33 am by sleemanj »
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Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2016, 05:42:17 am »
I really doubt that you could single out color blindness as an issue for electronics related jobs (with the possible exception of jobs relating to color displays).  While color blindness can be an impediment for tracing color coded wires and older color coded components it is not the dominant skill used in troubleshooting, assembly or repair.  Demonstrating that someone who was colorblind but knowledgeable, skilled and intuitive in troubleshooting was less capable than someone with color vision but lacking in one or more of the other three areas would be somewhere between difficult and impossible.

The real question, which in the US is largely ignored, is similar to the point posed by Blueskull.  How inferior does someone's total skill package have to be before you are justified legally and ethically in letting them go (or not hiring them in the first place).  What is the metric?  Nearly everyone is disabled in some sense: less than perfect vision, physical skills, intelligence, training, endurance, language skills, the list goes on. 

Extreme examples point out the problem.  Stephen Hawking is so physically limited that he not only requires many mechanical supports, but requires significant other human support to function.  But he is so brilliant that the total package is worth it.   Other folks with different sets of abilities and limitations may not provide so obvious an answer.
 

Offline Macbeth

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2016, 05:46:28 am »
What about tracing colored wires?
It makes no difference to me. Wire colours are distinct and easily identifiable. I'm supposed to be green colourblind but I can easily distinguish green from any other colour. I imagine I would have difficulty telling some exotic Pantone shades of greenish-yellow from each other but I guess non colour blind people would too.
 

Offline andy_silicon

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2016, 08:41:11 pm »
When I was a youngster .... my first full time job was an engineer at the BBC.

After the initial interview I was tested for colour blindness and hearing problems.

Seems sensible that a colour blind engineer was not a good choice in the TV industry.
( I not so old that it was pre colour television )
 

Online Jeroen3

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2016, 08:53:03 pm »
Valid discrimination of color blindness can only be justified if there are requirements on vision in general.

Meanwhile, the question has not been asked yet: what color is this:P
 

Offline timb

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2016, 11:10:05 pm »
Valid discrimination of color blindness can only be justified if there are requirements on vision in general.

Meanwhile, the question has not been asked yet: what color is this:P

Orange you glad I'm not color blind?
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Online BradC

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2016, 11:37:39 pm »
What about tracing colored wires?
It makes no difference to me. Wire colours are distinct and easily identifiable. I'm supposed to be green colourblind but I can easily distinguish green from any other colour.

One of my mates is blue-green colourblind, and I've had to help him out here and there. If it's a severe case (and his is), it *can* make a significant difference, particularly when wiring up mains leads. Green/yellow striped earths have been a godsend, but you don't always get that.
Just one example.

I remember being subjected to a number of colour discrimination tests when I started my apprenticeship. Guys who didn't meet the requirements were never allowed to do mains work.
 

Online BradC

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2016, 11:38:59 pm »
Meanwhile, the question has not been asked yet: what color is this:P

According to the markup tag, wot ^^ 'e said :)
 

Offline retrolefty

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2016, 12:02:14 pm »
It may or may not be illegal (depending on the country) to discriminate against color-blindness, but I doubt many employers would be comfortable with an employee who can't read resistors or trace colored wires.  I suspect (as with age-discrimination) other reasons are cited for passing over a potential employee in the hiring process.

 Well I can tell you from my experience in the U.S. Air Force in the mid 60s, that you couldn't qualify for any of the many different electronics training course unless first passing a color blindness test. Not sure how selective/accurate the test was but it was a requirement that the government as employer applied.

 Not sure if it is still a requirement but if it is, it should then apply that any employer using a similar test and justification could also require the same from their prospective employees.
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Do employers have a right to discriminate against color-blindness?
« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2016, 12:17:10 am »
I would imagine the selection criteria for aerospace would be a bit tougher.  Aircraft and spacecraft can't exactly pull over to the side of the road if something goes wrong.
 


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