Abramson Labor Group – Disability Discrimination
Disability discrimination occurs when a company does not meet the federal and state laws protecting workers and applicants from certain situations. Some examples of disability discrimination are:
- Firing or laying off a worker after a disability occurs
- Refusing to accommodate a disabled worker unless it causes undue hardship to the company
- Refusing to interview or hire a qualified worker with a disability
- Demoting or retaliating against a disabled worker who asks the company to accommodate them
- Treating a worker with a disability or disabling injury in a demeaning or negative way
- Refusing to give a disabled worker a raise or promotion due to the disability
Laws protect workers against situations like those, but there are many other examples. If you are disabled or you’ve been perceived as being disabled and you’re discriminated against, there are two laws that may protect you.
The Americans With Disabilities Act Protects Disabled Workers
As a disabled individual, you’re protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). This civil rights law was established in 1990 and protects you in several areas, including protections that cover you at work, training for a job, or when applying for work with any company that has at least 15 employees. With 2008’s Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act, employees had to obey the additional protections put forth for Americans with disabilities.
Laws protecting people with disabilities in terms of employment are found in the ADA’s Title I, a federal law that is regulated and enforced in part by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It requires employees to make “reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees.”
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act Adds Additional Protections
The ADA is there to protect disabled workers, but California also has the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). This widens the scope of people who qualify as disabled workers. For example, the ADA limits a disability to being a condition or circumstance that restricts your “major life activities” in a “substantial” manner. The FEHA removes the term “substantial” and defines disability as a condition or circumstance that restricts your activities.
Another difference between the ADA and FEHA involves the definition of those activities. With the ADA, a disability must be a mental or physical impairment that makes it difficult or impossible to complete “major life activities” that include bending, communicating, concentrating, hearing, learning, lifting, reading, speaking, standing, and walking. Working is not in their list of “major life activities,” but it is on the list for FEHA.
Both require assessments to prove the disability, but the FEHA isn’t as strict when it comes to the use of aids during the assessment. For example, an ADA assessment would require someone who claims to be hearing impaired to use a hearing aid during the test, which could impact the results. With the FEHA, the disabled person wouldn’t be required to use that hearing aid.
The final way FEHA helps is by allowing disability discrimination suits if the disability is perceived and doesn’t actually exist. With the ADA, you can only file a claim if the disability has been proven and exists.
Defining the “Qualified Individual With a Disability” Terminology
Both the ADA and FEHA state that only men and women who are a “qualified individual with a disability” are covered by those two disability discrimination laws. If your disability prevents you from doing all the duties required of a job, you wouldn’t qualify. For example, if you apply for a job as an airline pilot by you’re legally blind, your disability wouldn’t allow you to do the job. You wouldn’t qualify for a discrimination lawsuit.
You do have the right to “reasonable accommodations.” If you are well qualified for a job, the employer may be required to change certain things in order to allow you to do your job. For example, you want to accept a position with an office, but you use a wheelchair. There are stairs going into the office, so you cannot get inside. You can request that the install an ADA-compliant ramp. They do not have to do this if the construction of the ramp would be a financial hardship.
Labor Group specialize in representing workers who have been discriminated against. If you’re a victim of disability discrimination, you need to call us. We’re happy to offer expert advice and guide you in every step of your complaint and lawsuit. Don’t allow your employer to win simply because you’re afraid. We’re here to support you, answer your questions, and get you fair treatment.