What is Disability Discrimination?
Generally, disability discrimination in employment occurs when an employer treats an individual with a disability unfavorably because the individual has a disability.
However, only certain medical conditions are protected by the law.
Disability discrimination also occurs when an employer treats an applicant or employee less favorably because the individual has a history of a disability or because the individual is believed to have a disability.
The law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause an undue hardship. Undue hardship means the accommodation would be too difficult or expensive.
The law also protects people from discrimination based on their relationship with an individual with a disability.
What is a Reasonable Accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment to help an employee work with a disability.
An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee requests. If more than one accommodation satisfies the accommodation, the employer may choose which one to provide.
Employers and employees are obligated to collaborate to determine what positions the employee can fill with or without an accommodation.
What is a Disability?
Not every medical condition is protected from discrimination. In order to be protected, a person must be qualified for the job and have a disability as defined by the law. An individual has a disability protected by the law if the individual:
- has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (like walking or talking).
- has a history of a disability (like a major disease in remission).
- is believed to have a disability (even if the individual does not have the disability).
When Can an Employer Ask About Disability?
The law limits when employers can ask disability-related questions. For example:
- Before a Job Offer: Employers generally may not ask applicants to answer disability-related questions, however, employers may ask if applicants can perform the job and how they would perform the job with or without a reasonable accommodation.
- After a Job Offer: Employers can condition the job on answering disability-related questions, but only if all new employees in the same job are required to do so.
- After the Job Starts: Employers generally can only ask disability-related questions to support a request for an accommodation or if the employer legitimately believes an employee is not able to perform a job successfully or safely.
Do you think an employer discriminated against you based on a disability or a perceived disability? Contact Jeff.