In today's diverse and inclusive workplace, it's essential for employees to have a thorough understanding of disability discrimination laws and their rights under these laws.
In this post, we aim to address frequently asked questions about disability discrimination at work. At K2 Employment Law, we are dedicated to helping you navigate these complex issues and ensure a fair and inclusive work environment.
What Is Disability Discrimination?
Disability discrimination in the workplace refers to any form of unfair treatment or harassment towards an employee because of their disability. This can include physical, intellectual, sensory, or mental disabilities that qualify as such under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
When & How Should I Disclose a Disability?
As an employee or job seeker with a disability, disclosing your condition to potential employers can be an important and sometimes challenging decision. If your disability doesn’t impact your ability to perform essential job functions, you may not ever have to disclose it.
That said, you may wish to disclose a disability to your employer when it impacts one or more essential job functions. For example, it may be important to tell your employer about a disability if it’s difficult or painful for you to reach your workspace. You may also wish to disclose a disability when requesting reasonable accommodation for that disability, such as asking your employer for a reserved parking spot closer to the workplace entrance or a modified floorplan to accommodate a mobility aid.
How Do I Request Reasonable Accommodation for a Disability?
There is no formal process required by the ADA for requesting accommodation for a disability. You can simply tell your employer you need a certain kind of accommodation, and how you choose to do this is up to you. Legally, you don’t even need to provide your request in writing—but it may be helpful to your employer to understand exactly what you need to perform your job functions.
What If My Employer Denies My Request for Accommodation?
Employers are required to fulfill requests for accommodation of disabilities unless they can prove the request would present an undue burden upon them. That said, employers aren’t required to accommodate an employee’s disability exactly as requested; rather, they can come up with their own solutions to accommodate the disability as long as these solutions don’t discriminate against the employee.
For example, an employee may request expensive equipment to perform a certain aspect of their job. Their employer, however, could provide an alternative solution—such as swapping duties with a coworker—to accommodate the request and avoid incurring a significant business expense.
How Do I Recognize & Address Disability Discrimination?
Disability discrimination can take many forms, and it's important to be aware of the signs so you can address it.
Here are some common examples of disability discrimination to look out for:
- Refusal to provide reasonable accommodations: Employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, such as modified work schedules or assistive technology. If an employer refuses to provide these accommodations, it may be considered discrimination.
- Different treatment or opportunities: If an employee with a disability is consistently given less desirable assignments or opportunities for advancement compared to their non-disabled colleagues, it may be a sign of discrimination.
- Negative comments or jokes: Harassment based on disability, such as derogatory remarks or jokes, can create a hostile work environment and should not be tolerated.
- Retaliation for requesting accommodations: If an employee is punished or treated unfairly after requesting accommodations for their disability, it may be considered discrimination.
If you experience disability discrimination at work, the first step toward addressing it is to inform your supervisor or another higher-up in the company. The next step is to document discrimination as thoroughly as possible. This information can be used as evidence in a future legal claim, if necessary.
Who Can Help If My Employer Won't Help Me?
Your employer is legally obligated to protect you from disability discrimination. That said, not all employers take such claims seriously or do enough to adequately cease harassment. In the worst cases, disability discrimination is encouraged on an institutional level within a company.
In these situations, an employment law attorney can help you. At K2 Employment Law, we are here to provide expert guidance and legal assistance to ensure that you receive the fair treatment you deserve. If you have any further questions or require legal representation, do not hesitate to reach out to our experienced team. Together, we can help you fight against unfair treatment at work and hold the responsible parties accountable for disability discrimination.
Contact us today to learn more.