Disability discrimination at work occurs when an employer treats an employee or applicant unfavorably due to their disability. This form of discrimination violates various laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal and state regulations.
It is important to note that the term “disability” covers a wide range of mental and physical impairments. These impairments may include but are not limited to mobility issues, hearing or vision impairments, cognitive disorders, and chronic illnesses.
The primary law protecting individuals with disabilities is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability in various aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, training, and benefits. Additionally, the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the employer.
State laws may also offer protection against disability discrimination. These laws often mirror the ADA but may provide additional protections or cover smaller employers who fall outside the scope of the ADA.
Examples of Workplace Disability Discrimination
- Failure to provide reasonable accommodations: Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, allowing them to perform their duties effectively. Failing to do so may constitute discrimination. For example, an employee who uses a wheelchair requests a ramp to access the office building, but the employer refuses to install one. This refusal could be considered disability discrimination.
- Discriminatory hiring practices: Employers cannot discriminate against job applicants based on their disability during the hiring process. For instance, a qualified applicant who is deaf applies for a position and is denied employment solely due to their hearing impairment. This action may be considered discriminatory.
- Harassment based on disability: Harassment of an employee due to their disability is also considered discrimination. This can involve offensive comments or actions directed at an employee because of their disability. For example, coworkers repeatedly mock an employee with a speech impediment, creating a hostile work environment. The employer’s failure to address the situation may constitute disability discrimination.
Proving Disability Discrimination
To prove disability discrimination, an employee must provide evidence that shows the following:
- They have a disability: The employee must demonstrate a disability as defined by the ADA or applicable state laws. This often requires medical documentation to establish the presence of a physical or mental impairment.
- They are qualified for the job: The employee must prove qualified for the position in question, with or without reasonable accommodations. This means showing they possess the necessary skills, experience, and education to perform the job’s essential functions.
- They experienced an adverse employment action: The employee must show that they were subjected to an adverse employment action, such as being fired, demoted, or denied a promotion, because of their disability. This requires evidence that links the adverse action to the employee’s disability, such as statements from the employer or a pattern of discriminatory behavior.
- Reasonable accommodations were not provided: If the employee requested a reasonable accommodation that was denied, they must show that the accommodation was necessary and would not have caused undue hardship on the employer. This may involve providing expert testimony or other evidence to support the need for the accommodation.
Proving disability discrimination can be a complex process, and it is often beneficial for employees to consult with an experienced lawyer to guide them through the process and ensure their rights are protected.
South Jersey Workplace Discrimination Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Can Help You if You Have Experienced Disability Discrimination
You have workplace rights worth protecting. If you are being discriminated against at work because of your disability, speak with our South Jersey workplace discrimination lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC today. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.