In the United States, every citizen is supposed to have an equal chance at being able to succeed and to pursue happiness. In many cases, the pursuit of happiness rightfully involves working toward a satisfying career. Most readers likely know that discrimination on the basis of things like religion and race are illegal both in the workplace and outside of it, but did you know that disability discrimination is also illegal?
The protections offered to disabled workers are broader than many readers may realize. They don’t cover just wrongful termination. They are also intended to provide disabled workers with a safe and comfortable work environment. When employers do not make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, it is often considered an act of discrimination and may be punishable by law.
What Is Disability Discrimination?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describes disability discrimination in the workplace as being any instance in which an employer or another entity covered under the relevant legislation “treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably” as a result of that disability. Employers and other covered entities are also barred from discriminating against employees or applicants who have a history of disability or a relationship with someone who is disabled.
Protections For Disabled Workers
There are five federal laws intended to protect disabled employees and applicants from discrimination. These are known as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Workforce Investment Act, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistant Act, and the Civil Service Reform Act. Although not all of these laws apply in every situation, when put together, they offer comprehensive protections against workplace discrimination for disabled individuals.
One of the protections offered to disabled workers is access to reasonable adjustments or accommodations. This provision requires employers to change the work environment in order to help applicants who are disabled apply for jobs or to facilitate disabled employees’ abilities to perform their duties and enjoy the benefits of employment. Reasonable adjustments might include improving accessibility for an employee who uses a wheelchair or an interpreter for someone who is hearing impaired.
Unfortunately, there are some exceptions to this law. For instance, if making reasonable accommodations would cause undue hardship, he or she may not be required to make them. That doesn’t mean employers can refuse to make adjustments because they don’t want to pay for them, though. It just means that if there are multiple solutions available, the employer is free to choose the one that will cost less or be easier to implement.
What To Do About Discrimination
If you suspect that you’ve been a victim of disability discrimination, whether it has come in the form of harassment, lost opportunities, or failure to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace, you don’t need to just sit back and take it. You are entitled to both fair treatment and the disability insurance that you need to make positive changes and live a meaningful life. California’s top disability lawyers can help you figure out your legal options.
The entire reason that disability discrimination laws exist is to protect people from unfair treatment. Disabled workers should be entitled to a safe work environment free from harassment and discrimination. If you’ve got questions about what kinds of reasonable accommodations your employer is obligated to make, you’re wondering if a hurtful act constitutes harassment, or you’re having trouble getting access to the disability insurance payments you need, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.