Workplace discrimination does not only involve gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity, but also disability. Americans with disabilities are frequently discriminated against, and many might be too afraid of losing their jobs to speak up and ask for help. In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 26,379 complaints citing workplace disability discrimination. The EEOC claimed 5,907 of those cases warranted further investigation.
Disabilities can be physical or mental health conditions that limit major life activities (like working). Epilepsy and major depression are good examples.
The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act provide disabled workers with federal and state protections. Under these laws, some employers must meet certain obligations and are barred from discriminating. Here are a few examples of how these laws protect and help disabled workers.
- Employers cannot base hiring, firing, promotional and other employment decisions on the disabilities of qualified workers.
- Reasonable accommodations must be made for workers who are able to perform all aspects of their jobs, except those which their disabilities prevent (qualified workers). Accommodations apply to anything that disabled employees need to carry out the functions of their jobs. For example, someone with carpal tunnel syndrome could be given a modified keyboard. Unless accommodations cause businesses undue hardship, they must be met.
- During the hiring process, employers cannot ask potential employees about mental or physical disabilities.
What Options Are Available for Employees Affected by Workplace Disability Discrimination?
Legal options may exist to hold employers guilty of workplace disability discrimination accountable. In some cases, it might be necessary to contact an employment law attorney to take action against discriminatory employers. Under the right circumstances, workers may have options for receiving lost wages and other damages.