Disability discrimination usually arises in two forms – disparate or unfair treatment and failure to accommodate.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination not only for individuals who actually have a disability, but also for people who have a record of a disability or who the employer may perceive as being disabled when, in fact, they are not. This means that an employer cannot take (or fail to take) an employment action because of the employee’s or applicant’s disability, record of disability, or a perception that the employee is disabled.
The ADA also strives to give disabled employees equal footing in the workforce by ensuring that employers provide workplace adjustments so disabled individuals can succeed. An employee is entitled to a workplace accommodation if the employee is a “qualified individual with a disability.” If the employee is disabled and able to perform the essential functions of their job with or without reasonable accommodation, the employer must provide an accommodation, unless doing so would present an undue burden.
An employee can simply ask a boss, a manager, or their Human Resources department for an accommodation. The request should trigger an interactive process where the employer tries to learn what kinds of accommodations may be effective, and the employee is required to provide additional information as necessary to clarify their needs for accommodation. Employers are often entitled to some medical information to evaluate appropriate accommodations and determine that the individual has a covered disability that requires accommodation.
The interactive process can be frustrating. You may significantly limit your ability to preserve your rights if you do not participate in good faith or if you withhold certain information from the employer. By talking with a lawyer, you can learn whether your employer’s requests for medical information are appropriate or abusive.
If you think you have been the victim of disability discrimination, or if your employer is not cooperating with you to provide an accommodation, and you want to know your rights and options, contact us. During an initial consultation, we can evaluate whether you may have an employment discrimination claim, how to pursue and protect your rights, and identify what remedies may be available for you.