Examples of Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

March 26, 2019

Disability discrimination in the workplace is against the law under both federal and state law. Nonetheless, that does not stop employers from discriminating against their employees. An employees only protection against this is being knowledgeable about their rights and addressing these issues. The purpose of this blog is to provide some examples of disability discrimination throughout the employment process.

Not Hiring A Candidate Because of their Disability

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” As such, employers are not allowed to make any employment related decisions, including promotions, terminations, hiring’s or firings.

If an employer decides not to hire a potential applicant because of their disability then they are in violation of the law and the applicant can pursue a claim against the employer.

Failing to Accommodate An Employee’s Disability

According to the EEOC, “A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. While there are some things that are not considered reasonable accommodations (e.g., removal of an essential job function or personal use items such as a hearing aid that is needed on and off the job), reasonable accommodations can cover most things that enable an individual to apply for a job, perform a job, or have equal access to the workplace and employee benefits such as kitchens, parking lots, and office events.”

An employer must grant these accommodation requests unless it would cause them undue hardship to do so. Undue hardship means it would be financially impossible or too difficult to provide.

Harassing Someone with A Disability

Harassing an employee because of their disability is a form of discrimination, and illegal under state and federal law. According to the EEOC, “Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” Harassment is considered illegal when the employee has to; 1) endure offensive conduct, and 2) the conduct is severe and/or pervasive enough to create a hostile working environment.

The law protects employees from harassment in the workplace, no matter who the harasser is. An employer can be liable for harassment by supervisors, co-workers and even their customers. Once an employer is notified of the harassment, they have a legal duty to take steps in order for the harassment to stop.

Firing Someone Because of A Family Member’s Disability- Associational Disability

As stated above, it is illegal for a employer to discriminate, harass or make any job related decisions, on the basis of that employees disability. Most employees do not know that those same rules apply to an employee who has a family member with a disability. According to the EEOC, “The association provision of the ADA prohibits employment discrimination against a person, whether or not he or she has a disability, because of his or her known relationship or association with a person with a known disability. This means that an employer is prohibited from making adverse employment decisions based on unfounded concerns about the known disability of a family member or anyone else with whom the applicant or employee has a relationship or association.”

For example, consider an employee who has a child with a disability. The employee is terminated because she requests time off to take care of her child with the disability. This a form of wrongful termination and is illegal. An employer cannot take wrongful employment action against an employee due to their association with a disabled family member.

If an employee feels that they are being subjected to discrimination and harassment  in the workplace because of their or a family member’s disability,  then they should consult with an attorney who is experienced in labor law immediately. The laws governing retaliation are complex. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statute of limitations, as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice.  Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.