Disability Discrimination in the Workplace in USA

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Disability discrimination in the workplace became one of the hot topics among employees around the world. That is the reason why people with a physical or mental impairment need to know their rights. It seems to us that many victims do not even realize that they are the victims of this sort of discrimination.

What is Disability Discrimination?

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First of all, it is good to explain what does disability discrimination means. We can define it as unfair treatment by an employer in the workplace that is based on the certain disability of an employee.

Let’s translate that in “non-law” language. This means that an employer mustn’t make some important employment decisions that are based on disability. These decisions need to be based on the employee’s qualifications, skills, and performances.

Which US Law Protects Discrimination Based on a Disability?

Americans with Disability Act or ADA how most people call it is the law that protects people from discrimination based on a disability. Because of this law, many employee decisions are forbidden to employers. For instance, the business owners do not have the right to, hire, reduce pay, demote, reassign, or fire an employee from a workplace just because of some sort of disability.

These things started to happen in one period of American history and the government needs to react. Because of that, we now have many local and state laws in the USA that protect these individuals from discrimination.

Let’s use New York as an example. There are both, New York State and New York City Human Rights Law. Both laws protect people with physical or mental disabilities from discrimination. In this case, ADA does not allow employers that have at least 15 employees to discriminate against someone because of some sort of disability. Despite that, the law additionally protects every employer that has more than 4 and less than 14 workers.

If you live in New York, this article might help you as well. You maybe realize that you are or were a victim of disability discrimination at the workplace. If that’s the case, then we suggest you check mosheslaw.com for more details.  

So, let’s continue with the important facts.

Who Is Protected by ADA?

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Indeed, you can’t use this law in absolutely every case. Yet, we have noticed that some people do not even know that they can use this law to protect themselves at the workplace. Because of that, we need to say that three different types of employees can use the benefits of this law.

Employee with a Disability

Okay, this probably sounds logical but it is necessary to mention it. The disability includes two types of problems – physical and mental. Of course, not everything counts as a disability. If those disabilities limit a major life activity, then you are the part of this group of people that can look for help in ADA law.

An employee with a History of Impairment

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Let’s use an example to explain this group of people. Let’s say that there is a person that finished some college and he or she started to look for a job. After 2 years of work, the person found out that he suffers from cancer. Unfortunately, he had to quit the job and focus on therapies. Luckily, everything finished well and the person is now completely okay. Logically, now he will want to find a new job. He has the necessary qualifications, but the employer does not want to give him an opportunity because he had cancer before.

This is a case that happens all the time. Still, people do not know that ADA also protects them. You don’t have to currently have some sort of disability. The employer does not have the right to make some important employment decisions based on a history of impairment.

Incorrect Belief

We have noticed that this type of situation also happens quite often. It happens that the employer starts to discriminate against you because he believes that you suffer from some sort of mental or physical disability. However, the truth is that he is completely wrong. Even in this situation, ADA can protect you. The employer can’t make important employee decisions that are based on an incorrect belief. If something like this happened to you, you have a complete right to hire a lawyer and solve this problem through the court.

Reasonable Accommodation

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Well, there are some additional things that both, employer and employee should know about this law. First of all, the employer has to provide some sort of modification or adjustment that gives all the necessary conditions for a qualified employee with a disability. More precisely, he needs to ensure that he has everything necessary to do the job in the right way.

However, he doesn’t need to do that always. If the disability is visible or obvious, then everything is clear here. Still, if an employer is not familiar with the employee’s disability, then he needs to request a reasonable accommodation. The law does not expect the employer to know if some of his workers have a mental or physical disability.

Yet, there is one important thing that each business owner should know. It is necessary to talk with the employee about that. First of all, if there are no visible traces of disability, you should talk with your worker about that. Still, if everything is obvious, then you need to talk with the employee and see which accommodation will meet the needs of that person.

Undue Hardship

We hope that employers do not think that law is not fair enough. There is a fact that confirms this. If the reasonable accommodation would create an undue hardship, then you do not have to provide it. More precisely, if the costs of reasonable accommodation would bring significant expenses to the business, then you have the right not to provide it.

Anyway, different factors determine if you are capable of doing that or not. Those factors could be the nature and cost of the accommodation, the size, structure, and composition of the business, etc.

Fortunately, the accommodations usually cost less than $500 which is affordable for most of the businesses.