“You’re too slow for this job”, “people like you are lazy”, “you’re a freak”.
Americans with disabilities endure all kinds of hateful treatment, but what happens when it occurs in the workplace? Discrimination in the workplace is an issue some employees are still facing despite the laws in place which prohibit discriminatory practices. Employees or applicants who have a disability, whether it is temporary or permanent, have certain rights when it comes to obtaining or maintaining a discrimination-free career. An employment lawyer is the type of legal professional who can help an employee or applicant with a disability who has been treated adversely in the workplace or during an interview process. Below is some information an employee or applicant should keep in mind if she or he is considering hiring a Disability Lawyer and/or filing a suit.
1. The law has its own definition of “disability”
According to certain laws, an employee is recognized as disabled if he or she is physically or mentally impaired so significantly that he or she is unable to carry out various primary self-care activities. The law also specifies that certain mental and physical disabilities are recognized under the law. An employee may have a recognized physical disability if it is a disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss or health deterioration. Again, the physical impairment would need to limit the employee’s ability to carry out essential life activities in order for the impairment to be considered as a disability according to the law.
As far as mental disabilities go, psychological conditions are also recognized under the law. Like physical impairments, an employee with a mental or psychological impairment that limits any significant everyday life activities is considered a recognized disability. Recognized mental and psychological disabilities may include mental illnesses, emotional disorders, and some particular learning disabilities.
2. An employee should know what the law considers as “discrimination”
When it comes to disability discrimination, the law prohibits an employer from treating employees with certain disabilities in a negative way. Keeping in mind what disabilities are recognized by the law, an employee who has a recognized disability is considered as a victim of disability discrimination if he or she is singled out because of his or her recognized disability. An employee with a disability may identify certain treatment as discriminatory such as being passed up for promotion because of their disability, denial of employment benefits, denial of training that may lead to promotional opportunities, a decrease in work hours, deduction in payment, disciplinary action based on fictitious reasons, and/or termination. An employee with a disability may also experience discrimination through name calling, teasing, jokes, or nicknames. Especially with today’s technology and social media, many employees with disabilities are discriminated against through emails, text messages, memes, cartoons, and even videos. Any type of treatment that is negative towards an employee because of their disability or regarding their disability may be considered as discrimination.
Discriminatory behavior can come from other employees as well as employers. Employers are liable for any behavior other employees inflict upon an employee with a disability. If an employee with a disability is being discriminated against, the employee needs to give the employer a chance to remedy the issue. From there, an employer may be liable for not fixing the problem from reoccurring.
Discriminatory behavior and actions can be exercised in many different ways so each potential claim needs to be closely examined by a Disability Lawyer. A Disability Lawyer can inform an employee on what he or she needs to know before filing a claim against their employer. There are Disability Lawyers who offer free consultations so it can’t hurt to ask.
3. The employer has certain obligations
An employee who is contemplating whether to sue their employer for disability discrimination should know that denying him or her of reasonable accommodation may be considered as discrimination. Certain employers are obligated by the law to reasonably accommodate employees with a disability. Employers should do this by maintaining frequent communication with the employee regarding the employee’s disability. In maintaining open communication with an employee about their disability in regards to the employee’s accommodation, the employer can ensure that the employee is being given an equal opportunity at success in the workplace as their coworkers. Failure to provide an employee with a recognized disability with reasonable accommodation may give rise to a discrimination suit against the employer.
An employee may be able to prove that he or she was denied reasonable accommodation through emails, verbal complaints that he or she made, written complaints he or she made, text messages regarding accommodation between the employee and the employer or manager, and paperwork filled out by the employee’s doctor that was given to the employer. Labor attorney may be able to look over the records of these forms of communication and determine from there, whether an employee or applicant should file a suit against the company or employer.
4. There needs to be a link between the employee’s disability and the adverse treatment
An employee or applicant may set up a free consultation with a Disability Lawyer to discuss whether he or she actually has a case of disability discrimination. One question an employment attorney may ask the employee as well as themselves is “how is the adverse treatment connected to the employee’s disability”. Without this link, it may be difficult to build a case against an employer or organization for discrimination. For example, an employee who is visually impaired may request to work in certain areas where the employee is safe with their limited vision. After the employee makes this request, the employer began treating the employee differently from the other employees by cutting the employee’s shifts and writing the employee up for bogus reasons. In that example, the employee may be able to prove that there was a direct link between when the request was made and the adverse treatment that followed the request. If the Disability Lawyer is able to uncover evidence that there is a link between the adverse treatment and the employee’s disability, the Disability Lawyer may be able to establish discriminatory practices within the workplace.