5 Disabilities that May Be Protected By Employment Law
Disability discrimination is where an employer refuses to acknowledge your impairment as a disability and treats you adversely based on your disability.
The type of company you work for, the number of coworkers you have, your type of disability, and the nature of your claim, will factor into which legislation may assist you in protecting your job. As legislation at the State, as well as Federal level, progressively, recognize certain impairments as a type of disability, the more employees with these disabilities are given job protection.
Did you know that employees with a disability have numerous rights? Not only do these particular employees have rights, but also there are a set of rules that the employer must comply with in terms of accommodating the employee’s disability. But what exactly is considered as a disability in the eyes of the law? Is ADD considered a disability? What about being an addict? Or what about some conditions that are not indefinitely a physical or a mental disability such as chronic fatigue? Is an employee with a sexual dysfunction protected under employment law?
- Cosmetic Disfiguration?
An employee who has a cosmetic disfiguration may be categorized as having a disability. One particular piece of legislation identifies certain individuals as having a disability if he or she has an existing impairment. An existing impairment pertains to physical and/or mental deficiency that immensely restricts the individual from primary life activities. A cosmetic disfiguration would fall under the physical category. So if an employee has a cosmetic disfiguration that limits their ability to perform life activities but can carry out their duties at work or can carry them out with reasonable accommodation, an employer must provide those adjustments. Should an employer refuse to make reasonable adjustments for the employee, or fires the employee because they request the adjustments, that employee may have a claim for disability discrimination as well as wrongful termination.
If your boss fires you based on the fact that you were an alcoholic or you are currently in recovery, you may have a claim for wrongful termination and disability discrimination.
Alcohol abuse is an addiction that many Americans struggle with today. What seems to perpetuate the problem is when former addicts try to put their lives back together but can’t seem to live down their old habits. An employer who treats an employee adversely based on the fact that he or she is a former alcoholic may be liable for discrimination. For instance, if an employee suffers from particular health issues or a disability that was created by a prior addiction to alcohol, the employer must accommodate the employee within reason. Some factors may be taken into consideration such as if the employee has been or is currently participating in a rehabilitation program or is attending a rehabilitation program and has not consumed any alcohol or drugs for a substantial amount of time. Also, if an employee needs to take time off to receive medical treatment from a rehabilitation facility, the employer may not be able to terminate the employee for taking that time off. For example, if an employee disclosed to their boss that he or she needed to take a period of time off to participate in drug rehabilitation, the employer might be liable if they fire the employee based on taking the time off.
The circumstances of this particular issue are crucial in determining whether or not an employer has discriminated against an employee. It is essential to keep in mind that an employee is not automatically protected from being fired just because he or she was a former addict or that he or she has enrolled in a particular drug-treatment center. An employee must show that he or she has been free from use for an extensive amount of time as well as the reason for mistreatment was based on the fact that he or she either was an addict and/or requested time off for treatment.
- Sexual Dysfunction?
Under the particular legislation, in order to be considered as an employee who has a disability, it must be shown that he or she has an actual physical impairment. Remember that it may be essential to establish that the employee’s condition is debilitating in such a way that it may restrict them from a major life activity.
While it has not been ligated many times, sexual interactions may be characterized as a major life activity, thus a sexual dysfunction may be measured as a disability. If the sexual dysfunction arises from an employee’s poor mental health, this may provide evidence to support he or she indeed has a legally recognized disability.
Whether or not obesity is considered a legally recognized impairment is an ongoing debate, but it is not totally ruled out. Factors to be taken into consideration would be what body of law the claim would fall under, possibly the cause of obesity, and the percentage of access weight in comparison to the average weight. There have been some cases that did consider obesity to be impairing where cardiovascular issues were the source of obesity. But again, depending on the particulars of an employee’s case, obesity may be considered a protected disability in which an employee would be considered a victim of discrimination should he or she be terminated because of their diagnosis.
- Mental impairments?
As mentioned previously, there is specific legislation in place that recognizes certain physical and mental impairments as a disability. There is a variation of mental impairments that are recognized such as learning disabilities like dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. Depression is also recognized in certain cases as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder. There are also some conditions that may be recognized yet can neither be categorized as mental or physical such as chronic fatigue.
There are several mental impairments that may be acknowledged and protected under certain legislation; it mainly comes down to the individual’s circumstances and the facts of their case. Again, in certain situations of mental impairment, the employer is obligated to make reasonable adjustments for an employee at the workplace. Should an employee with a mental impairment find themselves being treated adversely based on their mental impairment, they may have a discrimination claim against their employer.
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