Philadelphia Disability Discrimination

Philadelphia Disability Discrimination

Philadelphia Attorneys Vigorously Representing Employees

Workers should be judged based on their skills and abilities. People who have disabilities can face a significant bias when trying to get or keep a job. However, both federal and state laws protect workers with disabilities in Pennsylvania. If you suspect that you have been a victim of disability discrimination in Philadelphia or the surrounding areas, you should consult a skillful, aggressive attorney. At Phillips & Associates, our Philadelphia disability discrimination lawyers can evaluate the facts of your case, determine whether you have a viable claim, and represent you as needed.

Protections Against Disability Discrimination Under the ADA

Disability discrimination happens when an employer treats a job applicant or employee less favorably due to his or her disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) forbids discrimination based on a disability. However, not all people who have a medical condition are protected. A medical condition must meet a legal definition of a “disability” to be covered.

Under the ADA, you can show that you have a disability if: (1) you possess a mental or physical condition that substantially restricts a major life activity, (2) you have a history of a disability, or (3) you are perceived to possess a mental or physical impairment that is neither transitory nor minor. In order to qualify as not transitory and minor, the impairment must last or be anticipated to last at least six months.

Harassment is one form of disability discrimination, such as when there are repeated comments or jokes about your disability (or perceived disability). While harassment is generally not actionable if it involves only an offhand remark or a minor, isolated incident, it is illegal if the offensive comments or other harassing behavior are so frequent or severe that they create a “hostile work environment”.

You are also protected against discrimination based on your association with someone who has a disability, even if you yourself are not disabled. For example, a disability discrimination attorney in Philadelphia could help you bring a claim if your employer failed to give you a promotion because your husband is disabled, and the employer assumes that you will be less committed to your job for that reason.

Reasonable Accommodations

Under the ADA, your employer is required to provide you with a reasonable accommodation for your disability. Reasonable accommodations are alterations to the work environment, or how things are done in the workplace, that assist a disabled person with applying for a job, performing job duties, or enjoying other privileges of employment. For example, a wheelchair user might need the reasonable accommodation of a wheelchair ramp. A blind person might need certain materials to be provided in Braille. Someone with cancer may need a more flexible schedule so that he or she can see the doctor and receive treatments.

However, the exception to this requirement is if providing the requested accommodation would cause an undue hardship on the employer. This usually means significant difficulties and expenses given the employer's size and financial resources. Yet employers cannot refuse to provide an employee with an accommodation just because it involves some expense. Also, the employer does not need to give you the precise accommodation that you requested to be in compliance with the ADA, and if more than one accommodation would work, the employer can choose which accommodation to provide.

Failing to provide a reasonable accommodation when one is appropriate is a violation of the ADA and may be disability discrimination. To show this violation, your Philadelphia disability discrimination attorney would need to prove that: (1) you were disabled within the ADA's definition, and the employer knew it, (2) you asked for a reasonable accommodation (3) the employer failed to make a good-faith effort to provide an accommodation, and (4) you could have been reasonably accommodated. After you ask for an accommodation, your employer is supposed to engage in a “good-faith interactive process” with you to determine what your limitations are and what reasonable accommodations might be.

State and City Laws

Similarly, under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), it is illegal to discriminate based on a disability or handicap or the use of a support or guide animal due to deafness, blindness, or a physical handicap. The definition of a disability or handicap under state law is a mental or physical impairment that substantially restricts one or more of somebody's major life activities, a record of possessing this type of impairment, or being perceived as having this type of impairment. The PHRA does not include addiction or the illegal use of a controlled substance as a disability or handicap.

Disability discrimination is also prohibited under the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance,. Your employer should not retaliate against you for asking for a reasonable accommodation or because you complained of disability harassment or discrimination.

Retain an Experienced Disability Discrimination Lawyer in Philadelphia

If you believe that you have been harmed by workplace disability discrimination, you should consult the aggressive and experienced employment litigators at Phillips & Associates. Contact us at (866) 229-9441 or via our online form for a free consultation.

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