Men and women with disabilities cannot be discriminated against when it comes to access to many public buildings or in terms of education, employment, or housing. While the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 protects people from unfair treatment, it doesn’t mean others understand or follow the laws. The law defines disability as being a mental or physical condition that changes one’s ability to manage daily activities of living in one or more ways.
You applied for a job and were denied based on your disability. It may have been an illegal discriminatory act. It also may not have been. To understand that, you have to look at the law itself.
Exceptions You Need to Understand
Most companies have to abide by the ADA, but certain companies can be exempt. If the business that didn’t hire you is a private company and has less than 15 employees, they are not bound by ADA regulations in some regions. There are exceptions to that rule, too. Government agencies must follow ADA rules regardless of size.
City/town, country, or state rules may help as some prohibit discrimination with any employer regardless of size. For example, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act requires all public and private employers with five or more employees to follow FEHA laws that prohibit discrimination against workers and job applicants.
The other consideration is that you must be qualified for the job. You have to be able to do the job duties. If you have no experience or education in that field, you would unlikely be considered as qualified. If you have the training but need special equipment, such as a TTY phone for the deaf, you could request “reasonable accommodations.”
If a person is disabled, “reasonable accommodations” must be made. The key here is “reasonable.” If the cost of adapting a workplace would cause financial strain to an employer, that isn’t reasonable. If all that’s required to hire you is a chair near your machine or work area, that’s not much to ask. That’s a “reasonable” request. If a company refuses to hire you due to a simple accommodation like that, you have a complaint and need to talk to a lawyer who specializes in employment law.
Now, say to be hired you need the company to install a bathroom with wheelchair height sinks, toilet stalls with room for a wheelchair, an elevator, and entryway for you, the cost may be too much for them to absorb. Undue hardship could apply. However, laws require the company to talk to you. They could pay as much as they can afford and offer you the chance to pay the rest. Undue hardship can be hard for a company to claim. They must exhaust all possible avenues first. Therefore, you should still talk to an attorney first to verify the hiring personnel acted lawfully.
Things Hiring Managers Can and Cannot Ask
During the interview process or when screening applicants, the hiring manager cannot ask you to take a medical exam prior to hiring. You do not have to answer questions about your disability. You don’t have to bring up your disability at all. If the employer can tell you have a disability, it is acceptable for them to ask about your ability to do specific portions of the job. You may be asked to demonstrate how you’d do complete a work-related task.
Once you have the job offer, the manager can put conditions in place as long as all potential hires face the same conditions. You may be required to undergo a drug screening or medical exam before you are hired if everyone else is required to do the same. Say you’re told you have the job as long as you pass an eye exam, but no one else has been asked to undergo an eye exam. That’s not acceptable. You could say the request was based on your disability and a violation of the ADA rules.
When you haven’t be hired and feel it could be because of your disability, it’s time to ask a professional. If you were not hired despite your qualifications and job skills, you could have a case against that employer. It’s not always easy understanding the legalese covering employment discrimination laws. An expert will help you better understand how the laws apply to your specific situation. Shegerian Conniff specializes in employment law and offers free consultations. Fill out the online form or call (310) 322-7500 to talk to one of the attorneys.