Disability Discrimination In The Workplace

Disability discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employer treats an employee or applicant with a qualified disability unfavorably. It can also occur when an employer treats an employee or applicant unfavorably because they had a history of disability.

Disabled employees and applicants are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, but what does this mean? How do these Acts protect employees and applicants from discrimination in the workplace?

  • Under these Acts, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation to employees and applicants with qualified disabilities, unless it causes the employer "undue hardship".
    • What does reasonable accommodation mean? According to the EEOC, it means that an employer changes the way work is done in the office in order to help accommodate an individual with a disability so that they can apply for jobs and enjoy job benefits and job privileges.
  • These Acts protects employees from discrimination based on personal relationships, meaning that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant because they have a spouse or child with a disability.
  • It is illegal to harass employees and applicants with disabilities. Harassment must be severe and persuasive. It must create a hostile work environment and affect a person's ability to work in a timely and effective manner. Teasing is not severe enough, but persistent remarks about an employee's disability may be severe enough that the victim could take legal action.  
  • The law protects individuals in all aspects of employment. According to the EEOC, this includes the hiring process, firing, job assignments, pay, promotion, benefits, layoffs, training, and any other employment conditions.


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