Disability Discrimination FAQ

Employment Attorneys Advocating for New York City Workers

Federal, state, and local laws prohibit workplace disability discrimination in New York City. A disability may be defined slightly differently under each of the different laws. Moreover, the laws apply to workplaces of different sizes. Generally, however, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially restricts one or more major life activities, such as breathing, walking, or sleeping. Discrimination can include any action or failure to act that denies someone with a disability equal access within the workplace. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City disability discrimination lawyers may be able to represent you if your employer discriminates against you due to your disability, or denies you a reasonable accommodation for your disability. Following are Frequently Asked Questions about disability discrimination.

Which Laws Prohibit Disability Discrimination?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of a job applicant or employee's disability. Intentional prejudice as well as actions or omissions that deny people with disabilities equal access to the same opportunities or benefits in the workplace are forms of disability discrimination. For example, if you are fired because of your disability, this is discrimination. However, if you are a qualified employee who needs a reasonable accommodation that does not pose an undue hardship to your employer, and you are denied that reasonable accommodation, this may also be disability discrimination. The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law also prohibit disability discrimination.

What is Mental Disability Discrimination?

Mental illnesses and psychiatric conditions are considered disabilities in the workplace. Your employer may not discriminate against you because you have a mental disability or because it perceives you as having a mental disability. Additionally, you are entitled to a reasonable accommodation for your mental disability. For example, if you require a slightly modified or more flexible work schedule due to a mental disability, you can request a reasonable accommodation. Your employer is supposed to provide a reasonable accommodation, assuming that you are qualified and the accommodation does not present an undue hardship. Furthermore, you are entitled to work in a place free from harassment due to your disability.

What is Physical Disability Discrimination?

Physical disability discrimination occurs if you are treated differently in the workplace based on a physical impairment that you actually have, that you have had in the past, or that you are perceived as having. For example, if your employer permits your coworkers to harass you due to your disability and does not promote you because of your disability, these are forms of physical disability discrimination.

Is AIDS/HIV Considered a Disability?

Yes. People who are HIV positive or who have AIDS are protected under the ADA, as well as the New York State Human Rights Law. Under the ADA, you are considered to have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, you have a record of this type of impairment, or you are perceived as having an impairment. Even people with HIV that is asymptomatic have physical impairments that substantially limit their major life activities. The ADA also protects people who suffer from discrimination due to a known association or relationship with someone who is HIV-positive. The New York State Human Rights Law protects people who work for smaller employers.

Am I Entitled to a Reasonable Accommodation for Attention Deficit Disorder?

Most likely. If you have an ADD diagnosis, you likely have difficulty with the major life activity of concentrating. As long as you are otherwise qualified, and providing a reasonable accommodation does not entail an undue hardship for your employer, you may be able to get such accommodations as a more flexible schedule, slightly more time to complete an assignment, or altered work space in order to allow you to complete your job tasks at the appropriate rate.

Can I get a Reasonable Accommodation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is quite common, especially among administrative or clerical workers. It often results from excessive and repetitive typing. Reasonable accommodations are usually available for carpal tunnel syndrome, and they can include modified work schedules, more breaks, an ergonomic evaluation of your work station so that you can get a special keyboard and chair to minimize the pain, and medical leave when necessary.

Is Diabetes Considered a Disability?

Yes, in most cases, diabetes is considered a disability because it involves the major life activity of processing sugars appropriately. Reasonable accommodations could include rest breaks to administer insulin and time off to go to doctor's appointments.

Are Reasonable Accommodations Available for Dyslexia?

Yes, as long as you are otherwise qualified to do your job, you should be able to get a reasonable accommodation for dyslexia. For example, you may be able to get more time for tasks related to reading, or you may be able to receive training through oral means rather than written means.

Are Migraines Disabilities Under the law?

Yes, migraines can impair your ability to perform job tasks, come to work, or complete a day's work, due to intolerance to light and sound, impaired vision, inability to think clearly, and pain. In some cases, supervisors are unsympathetic because they do not understand that a migraine is different from a regular headache. Employers are not permitted to allow a hostile work environment based on an employee's disabling migraines or make other employment decisions based on your past or present migraines. You are entitled to reasonable accommodations to do your work, such as an altered or flexible schedule, if you ask for them, unless providing you with an accommodation would result in an undue hardship.

Which Reasonable Accommodations may be Available for PTSD?

According to the EEOC, most people with PTSD will be considered to have a disability under the ADA. PTSD limits the major life activity of brain function. You are not generally required to disclose your PTSD to your employer, but you will need to disclose it if you need a reasonable accommodation to perform essential job functions. Your employer can ask you to submit to a medical exam if it is job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Is There a Reasonable Accommodation Available for Tourette Syndrome?

The Department of Justice has asserted that Tourette Syndrome is an ADA-covered disability. Some employees may still have difficulty asserting their rights under the law, including requests for reasonable accommodations. In some cases, judges disagree about what is considered a major life activity. Interacting with others and working are major life activities, and in many cases, people with Tourette Syndrome encounter challenges in these areas. A reasonable accommodation may be available, but it can be helpful to try to engage in an interactive process with your employer or prospective employer with the help of an experienced employment lawyer.

Consult a Disability Discrimination Attorney in New York City

At Phillips & Associates, we may be able to help you recover damages if you were subject to workplace disability discrimination in New York City. We fight employment discrimination and harassment in Staten Island, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Westchester County, and New Jersey. Contact our attorneys at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form.

PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES
45 Broadway, Suite 620,
New York NY, 10006
Tel: 212-248-7431
Fax: 212-901-2107
info@tpglaws.com
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