• Foundations of Truth

Don’t Demand Charity



Isaiah 58:10 teaches that “and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”


The idea of charity is critical to a Christian life, but as Jesus Christ pointed out about the pharisees, merely doing the religiously commanded rituals without having the right intentions behind them is useless. For instance, while prayer is clearly commanded in the Pentateuch, Jesus said in Matthew 6:5: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.”


Similarly, forcing people to perform acts of charity does not actually result in the change of heart that the Bible teaches us to prize. This is precisely what was at issue in the recent case of United States District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin case of Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Wal-Mart Stores E. LP. [1]


Although the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to those with disabilities, they are not required to change “core job requirements” to enable a disabled employee to perform the job.


The question at the heart of this case was whether a disabled woman’s ability to show up at work and stay at work for the entirety of the time that she was scheduled was a “core job requirement.”


Historically, as in the 8th Circuit Court case of Rehrs v. lams Co., scheduling requirements were protected as “core job requirements” and employers were not required to hire employees who could not show up on time. [3]


Although a jury trial of the case resulted in Walmart being convicted of having discriminated against a disabled woman, that does not mean Walmart actually did anything that ought to be punishable.


First, although the data is limited in its applicability, juries often reach the incorrect verdict in criminal cases. One study from 2007 suggested that the rate of incorrect verdicts could be as high as 23 percent. [2] The jury’s competence in this particular case is especially questionable because they awarded $125,000,000 in damages, even though the maximum amount of money they are allowed to award by law is $300,000. [1]


Second, even the judge who denied Walmart’s motion to have the case decided before the trial had this to say:


“The court is concerned about how this case and similar cases may impact persons with Down Syndrome in the future…the ADA does not mandate that employers act as charitable institutions providing employment opportunities for less qualified applicants. Employers often employ persons with developmental disabilities as a goodwill gesture or out of a sense of compassion. The court's concern is that because of cases like this, employers will be less likely to employ such persons in the future.”


The judge’s concerns are precisely correct. While it is obviously a good thing to hire the disabled, expanding the interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and using it to demand that private corporations act as charitable institutions will not make them more charitable.


In the words of the Emory Economics Review: “When it comes to the subject of whether the ADA has managed to accomplish its purpose, the data seem to suggest that it has had almost no positive impacts on workers with disabilities. Some even suggest that the ADA has inadvertently hurt the probabilities of disabled workers obtaining employment by making employers weary of the costs behind reasonable accommodations.” [4]


If we want people to be charitable, Christians and others should start by modeling charity, as we are taught in Isaiah 58:10. The law will not make people more virtuous, that will only be achieved by changing their hearts.

Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.


[1] Jason Wilson, “Walmart Hit With $125 Million Jury Award in ADA Go well with by EEOC (1),” Disability Law (July 16, 2021), http://disabilitylaw.news/walmart-hit-with-125-million-jury-award-in-ada-go-well-with-by-eeoc-1/

[2] “New Study Shows How Often Juries Get It Wrong,” ScienceDaily (June 29, 2007), https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070628161330.htm

[3] “Rehrs v. IAMS Co.,” CaseText (n.d.), https://casetext.com/case/rehrs-v-iams-co

[4] Yuritzy Ramos, “The Economics of Disability: Has the Americans with Disabilities Act Failed Disabled Workers?,” Emory Economics Review (June 28, 2021), https://emoryeconomicsreview.org/articles/home/2021/6/28/the-economics-of-disability-has-the-americans-with-disabilities-act-failed-disabled-workers


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