Federal Disability Discrimination Laws

Federal Disability Discrimination Laws

Workplace Rights Attorneys Assisting New York City Residents

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the primary federal law that prohibits disability discrimination. Disability discrimination happens when an employer covered by the ADA treats someone who is qualified for a job adversely due to a disability. The ADA covers employers with at least 15 employees. If you believe that your employer may have violated federal disability discrimination laws, you should contact the experienced New York City disability discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates.

Federal Disability Discrimination Laws

Disability discrimination happens under the ADA if a qualified job applicant or employee is treated adversely due to a disability. Moreover, it happens if the job applicant or employee is treated less well than others due to a history of disability, or due to a perception that he or she has a non-transitory and non-minor mental or physical impairment. It can also happen when a job applicant or employee is treated unfavorably due to a spouse's disability, even if the job applicant or employee does not have a disability. For example, it would be illegal for an employer to refuse to hire you because your wife has early-onset Alzheimer's, and the employer assumes that this might take you away from your work more frequently.

Discrimination can take many different forms, including failing to hire, firing, paying a worker less, assigning a worker to less favorable assignments, failing to promote, failing to provide fringe benefits that are provided to others, and harassment. Disability-based harassment is illegal. It can include offensive comments about your disability, images, or physical violence. An isolated incident or mild teasing is not considered actionable harassment. Instead, you can sue for harassment when it is so severe or so frequent that it produces a hostile work environment, or when it results in a negative employment action, such as a victim being demoted or fired. You can be harassed by your supervisor, manager, coworker, customer, or client.

Reasonable Accommodations

Under the ADA, your employer should give you a reasonable accommodation for your disability unless doing so would present an undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations are any alterations to the work environment or how things are typically done in order to assist a disabled person to apply for work, perform job tasks, or otherwise receive benefits or privileges of employment that others receive. For example, if you need certain books at work to be in Braille, this may be a reasonable accommodation.

An accommodation must create a significant expense or difficulty for the employer to be considered an undue hardship. Each employer's capacity to provide an accommodation is different. Generally, an employer cannot refuse to give you accommodation only because it involves some expense. However, the analysis of whether something presents an undue hardship depends on the size of the employer and its resources, as well as the business needs.

Disability Discrimination During the Application and Interview Stage

It can be challenging to show that you faced disability discrimination during the hiring process. The ADA has strict rules that employers must follow in connection with asking medical questions or providing exams. Before you are extended a job offer, your employer cannot ask you to answer medical questions or take a medical exam. During the interview, the employer cannot ask you if you have a disability or even question the nature of a visible disability. They can only ask you about whether you can do the job and how it would be performed, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

However, once you have been offered a job, your employer can condition that offer on your answering particular medical questions or passing a medical exam that all other job applicants for the same type of job must perform.

Get Advice from a Disability Rights Lawyer in New York City

At Phillips & Associates, our attorneys are ready to help you if you are concerned about a violation of federal disability discrimination laws in the workplace. We may be able to help you pursue damages for disability discrimination in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, or Manhattan, as well as in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties or in New Jersey. Contact us at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form for a free appointment with an attorney.

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