Rudner Law Video Update: Hiring People with Disabilities
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Rudner Law Video Update: Hiring People with Disabilities

Stuart Rudner with another employment law update.

So, today I get to use a hockey story for the basis of my comments, and I want to talk about hiring people with disabilities. I’m sure by now we all know, you should never discriminate against someone on the basis of a disability and we all know there is a very strong push for diversity and inclusion but the reality is I still get the comments about how when they’re hiring someone from a protected group it’s either because of need for compliance or it’s more of a charity decision. So sure it’s very nice to give somebody a break when they have challenges that most of us can only imagine. But that’s now why you should be hiring somebody with a disability, you should be doing it because they can be truly productive members of your organization and in many cases they can contribute in ways that others can’t.

So the story I want to talk about relates to Joey Moss. Wrong side, that side over there. Joey Moss was hired by the Edmonton Oilers in the mid 1980s, and he worked with them until he passed away a few weeks ago in October 2020. He has been referred to as the heart and soul of the organization, an icon, an inspiration, and a role model. So we’re not talking about Wayne Gretzy, or Mark Messier, Connor McDavid, we’re talking about a locker room attendant, but obviously not an ordinary one. So just by way of background, Joey Moss was the brother of Vikki Moss who was dating Wayne Gretzky back in the mid 1980s, Joey had Down’s syndrome, when Gretzky got to know him, he was impressed by his work ethic – at the time he was working at a local car wash, and recommended that the Oilers give him a shot as a locker room attendant. And by all accounts, this was not a matter of humouring him and keeping him around because he had a disability; by all accounts he kept the locker room spick and span, kept everything in order, didn’t take any flack from any players, including Wayne Gretzky, and made sure they heard about it if their locker was not clean. Clearly he did his job very well, but then he added a whole other element that he brought to the organization.

Since his passing, the tributes to Joey Moss have been overwhelming, and if you don’t believe me, do a Google search, you will see all of the comments from people who were involved with him or got to know him, they talk about his love of life, his wicked sense of humour, his compassion, you know when the team was doing well he would have a smile from ear to ear, when the team wasn’t doing well, or somebody was sad, he would come over and give them a hug. Countless former players have commented on how important he was, the locker room attendant, how important he was to the organization and to them personally, and it’s remarkable how over 30-plus years, players came players went, Joey Moss became the staple and the heart of the organization and as well, captured the heart of the city. And it’s very clear from all the media reports, that he will be given a very significant public tribute, although they haven’t quite figured out what that will be as of yet. This is all because he was given a shot to be a locker room attendant, and he ended up staying with the club for the rest of his life, and made an impact that continues even after his death. In doing so, he has been a perfect example of how much of a contribution someone can make to the organization they’re hired by, even if they have a disability. So the message today is very simple, don’t hire somebody with a disability just because you have to, hire them into a role where they can truly succeed and contribute to the organization.

That’s all for today, thanks for tuning in.

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