The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities in the workplace.
ADA prohibits employers from treating people with disabilities differently in their employment, hiring, or firing because of their disability, perceived disability, or association with a person with disabilities. Some examples of disability discrimination may include:
- Discriminating against people with disabilities during recruitment, firing, hiring, training, duties, promotions, pay, benefits, lay off, leave and all other employment-related activities.
- Teasing, harassing, or singling out an employee because of his or her disability.
- Asking applicants questions about their current or past medical conditions, or requiring applicants to take medical exams.
- Creating or maintaining a workplace that includes physical barriers that limit the movement of people with physical disabilities.
- Not providing reasonable accommodation to employees with a physical or mental disability that would allow them to complete their job functions.
However, not all discrimination complaints or lawsuits have legal merit. If you or your business have been singled out by an employee or former employee for disability discrimination, then you need experienced legal advice, we are ready to defend you.
The Law Office of Parag L. Amin (“LawPLA”) has years of experience in employer’s defense. We help employers who have faced workplace discrimination complaints defend their policies and practices in court and administrative hearings.
In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) includes anti-discrimination provisions. Read on to learn more in about disability discrimination in the workplace, and, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation.
A person may be considered disabled or differently abled if one of the following categories applies to them :
- If he or she has a condition that severely limits their ability to perform a significant life activity like walking, talking, seeing, hearing or learning.
- If he or she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last more than six months.
- If he or she has a history of a disability, e.g., cancer that is in remission.
Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
The ADA makes it illegal for private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions to discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation
Employers must provide reasonable accommodation to employees or job applicants with disabilities unless giving reasonable accommodations would cause a significant expense or difficulties for the employer.
A reasonable accommodation is considered any change in the work environment or procedure to help a person with disabilities apply for a job, perform the essential functions of a job, or enjoy the benefits of employment.
Accommodations can vary based on the needs of the individual applicant or employee. Even people with the same disability might require different levels of accommodation to be able to perform their jobs effectively. Reasonable accommodations may include:
- Making working facilities accessible to persons with disabilities, e.g., installing a wheelchair lift or ramp to make it possible for people who do not have the full use of their legs to enter into and move around the workplace.
- Modifying working schedules or job restructuring.
- Providing specialized equipment that allows a person with disabilities to complete his or her job.
- Adjusting training materials, examinations, or policies so they can be clearly understood and carried out.
Here are some examples of reasonable accommodations specific to particular disabilities:
- A blind employee may need braille reading material.
- An employee with autism might require more detailed instructions on how to complete a task.
- An employee with diabetes might need breaks during the workday to eat properly and monitor blood sugar and insulin levels.
If an employee or group of employees has filed a complaint against you or your business claiming disability discrimination, contact our office to set up a consultation to discuss your legal defense.
What You Can and Can’t Ask an Applicant During a job interview
When you, the employer, are interviewing an applicant for a job, you cannot legally ask if the applicant has a disability. However, you can ask the applicant if she or he will be able to perform the job’s essential duties with or without reasonable accommodation. For example, if a position requires that an employee needs to frequently lift over 20 pounds or be able to drive a work vehicle, you can ask an applicant to describe or demonstrate how, with or without reasonable accommodation, she or he will be able to perform the tasks associated with a job.
While you cannot refuse to hire an applicant because of their disability if they can perform the essential functions of the job with an accommodation, you don’t have to hire them over an equally or more qualified candidate.
You cannot ask an applicant to complete a medical examination before you offer that applicant the job.
After you offer a job, however, you can condition employment on the applicant’s ability to pass a medical examination, as long as every new employee is asked to pass the same exam. You cannot single out an applicant for a medical exam because you believe the applicant has a disability.
After an employee has started work, you cannot require them to take medical exams or ask questions about their disability unless the questions are related to their job. However, you can conduct voluntary medical examinations that are part of an employee health program.
If an employee takes a medical examination, you must keep the results of the exam confidential and store all files related to the exam separately from other employee files.
Disability Discrimination & Harassment
Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile working environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as an employee being fired or demoted.
A harasser can be a victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, a client, or a customer. Victims of disability discrimination can recover remedies to include:
- back pay
- reasonable accommodation
- front pay
- compensatory damages (emotional pain and suffering)
- punitive damages (damages to punish the employer)
- other actions that will make an individual “whole” (in the condition she or he would have been but for the discrimination)
Remedies also may include payment of:
- attorneys’ fees
- expert witness fees
- court costs.
You may also be forced to take corrective or preventive actions against the source of the discrimination to minimize the chance that similar instances might happen in the future.
Contact an Experienced Disability Discrimination Attorney
LawPLA is here to defend your legal rights as an employer against weak or false claims of disability discrimination.
If you or your business have been targeted with a disability discriminated complaint or lawsuit, work with LawPLA’s employer’s defense team who can help you assess your situation and understand what legal options are available to you.
Contact LawPLA today to schedule a consultation to discuss your potential disability discrimination law claim.