A disability never should disqualify a qualified individual from obtaining or maintaining employment. Multiple laws protect employees from workplace discrimination based on a disability, or even a perceived disability. The Harman Firm is committed to defending the rights of employees who have been discriminated against because of a disability, whether permanent or temporary, or merely because the employer believes the employee has a disability when they do not.
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 “ADA,” civil rights law pertaining to employment was expanded to include Americans who suffer from disabilities. The law makes it illegal to discriminate against any individual in employment matters based on a disability, as long as the employee is sufficiently qualified to hold and complete the tasks required for the position.
An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.
The ADA covers both disabilities that are permanent, as well as those that may only be temporary. Temporary disabilities include any short-term illness or condition that severely impacts a person’s normal routine and life - it does not necessarily have to be a permanent condition. Short-term disabilities could include pregnancy-related complication or recovery time, treatment for trauma, as well as mental anguish post-traumatic stress disorder, back injuries, an adjustment in medications for such illnesses as cancer and HIV, for drug and alcohol addiction, disabilities and others.
The ADA also prohibits discrimination based on perceived disabilities, an area of law which has been examined in greater detail in recent years. Perceived disability discrimination takes many forms, and may often be an employment-related decision based on the employer’s perception that the employee is not able to complete a specific job, regardless of the actual presence of a disability or inability to complete the required task.
New York State and New York City also provide protections against disability discrimination that are in many cases broader than what is even covered on the ADA, and reinforce and expand the rights of disabled individuals. State and City laws also mandate that employers must reasonably accommodate employees on account of their disability, including making changes to the office to allow for employees to do their job without impediments. This includes making sure the office place is accessible to individuals with disabilities.
These laws also require employers to engage in a good faith interactive process to assess the type of accommodation their employee may need as a disabled employee. The key issue for determining whether an employer has provided a disabled employee with reasonable accommodation is whether the employer made a good faith effort to determine the needs of such employee. Anti-discrimination statutes “envisage employer and employee engaged in an interactive process in arriving at a reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee.” Engaging in an individualized interactive process is itself an accommodation and, generally, the failure to so engage is a violation of the disability law.
The Harman Firm has detailed experience dealing with all the facets and intricacies of disability discrimination. If you believe that you have been treated differently in the workplace, or been discriminated against because of a disability or perceived disability, contact us today to evaluate your rights.