Brittany Stevens Discusses Disability Discrimination for Lawyer Monthly
Workplace disability discrimination occurs when a person with a disability is treated adversely by an employer due to his or her disability. One of our experienced New York disability discrimination lawyers, Brittany A. Stevens, recently wrote an article about disability discrimination that appeared in Lawyer Monthly . If you believe that you have been a victim of disability discrimination, you should call Phillips and Associates. Our attorneys may be able to represent you.
Understanding Disability Discrimination
In her article, Ms. Stevens explained that disability discrimination is a growing issue in workplaces today. Federal, state, and city laws prohibit disability discrimination. The federal law that prohibits disability discrimination and requires your employer to provide you with a reasonable accommodation for a disability unless it poses an undue hardship is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, a disability is a mental or physical impairment that substantially restricts a major life activity. However, state and local laws have more lenient, employee-friendly laws and definitions.
As a person with a disability, you may not be appropriately accommodated for your disability, or you may be afraid to ask for an accommodation because of the stigma. Often, employees are not aware of what the process of asking for a reasonable accommodation is. Your employer may not properly train its managers and supervisors to make sure that requests are properly handled.
Usually, your company’s discrimination or accommodation policies can be found in its handbook. The HR department may have a copy of a written policy. It is important to abide by a written policy when asking for an accommodation. Your disability will determine which accommodation is appropriate. The accommodation is supposed to be a shift or change in workplace conditions that would allow you to perform your job duties. For instance, if you have a back injury, you might ask for an accommodation in which you are excused from lifting heavy objects on the job. Or, if you are a cancer patient who needs to undergo chemotherapy, it might make sense to ask your employer for a modified work schedule to attend appointments.
After you ask for an accommodation, your employer should engage with you in good faith in an interactive process to figure out what your needs are and which accommodations might be reasonable, given your disability and the circumstances. Your employer might need to figure out what your functional limitations are and see how they stack up against the primary job duties. You may need to provide medical documentation to get an accommodation.
The employer is entitled to figure out what works for the business. This is why the interactive process is so important. Your employer should not automatically reject your request without talking to you about your limitations and what might work for you so that you can perform a job. The interactive process is important because it protects you from a complete rejection of your request for an accommodation.
You may be afraid to ask for reasonable accommodations because your employer might retaliate against you. It is illegal for your employer to terminate or even demote you because you have asked for a reasonable accommodation. If your employer takes an adverse employment action against you or permits a hostile work environment based on your disability or because you asked for a reasonable accommodation for it, you may have a claim for retaliation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the disability framework. Throughout the pandemic, disability discrimination has risen. Employers are likely to see more accommodation requests as they require employees to come back to a physical workspace. Some disabilities result in increased vulnerability to COVID-19, and as a worker with one of those disabilities, you may not be willing to risk your health or life to come to a jobsite.
Employers are not required to allow you to work remotely. Your employer may be able to argue that accommodating you is too challenging or expensive because of the organization’s financial resources and size. However, your employer cannot refuse to accommodate you only because it might face additional costs. Each case is different, and you should talk to an attorney about your particular situation.
Contact a Disability Discrimination Attorney
If you believe that you were subject to disability discrimination, our experienced trial attorneys at Phillips & Associates may be able to represent you. We represent employees in New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, as well as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or complete our online form.
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