Disability Discrimination Facts

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees from discrimination in the workplace on the basis of their actual, perceived, or record of disability.

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What Is The Legal Definition Of A Disability?

Not every physical or mental condition qualifies as a disability.

The impairment must be of a physical or mental nature and limit function in at least one major life activity when it is active. An employer cannot discriminate against an employee because the employee has such a condition.

matt-looking-papersAdditionally, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because of the employee’s record of an impairment. Examples of this include medical records or an official diagnosis by a medical practitioner. An employer likewise cannot discriminate against an employee because they regard the employee to be impaired, even if this belief is inaccurate.

An employer discriminates against an employee on these bases if it takes adverse action against the employee because of their disability. This includes:

  • Failing to hire
  • Failing to promote
  • Demoting and/or terminating employees because of their physical or mental impairment

However, if an employer can prove that the potential or current employee cannot physically or mentally perform the tasks that are required for a particular position, with or without a reasonable accommodation then the employee is not qualified for the position and the employer is not required to hire or continue to employ them.

Disability discrimination can come in several forms, including:

  • An employer who fails to make requested reasonable accommodations for an individual’s qualifying physical or mental impairment.
  • An employer who fails to hire or promote an individual person due to a qualifying disability even though the person is qualified and capable of fulfilling the tasks required for the position.
  • An employer who takes adverse action against an employee after a disability that is not visibly noticeable is revealed such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, diabetes, or other chronic health conditions that could affect their performance at work.

Any person who feels that they are being unfairly discriminated against due to a disability may have a legal case against their employer. It is recommended to contact an experienced lawyer who deals primarily with cases involving discrimination in the workplace in order to determine whether the case is viable.

There are a number of other reasons when an employee may be unfairly discriminated against due to a disability:

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act provides that covered employers provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the employee has worked a year. Leave does not have to be taken at the same time and can be spread out to accommodate medical appointments, treatments, or a flare-up of an employee’s chronic condition.
  • Once an employee makes a request for a reasonable accommodation for a qualifying disability, the employer is required to engage in an interactive dialogue to determine whether an accommodation can be made without causing the employer an undue burden.

Once an employer received a report of disability discrimination, they have an obligation to investigate and take prompt remedial action.

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