Disability Discrimination Lawyer
Californians with disabilities are valuable, contributing and thriving members of the workforce and they have the legal right to earn a living. Under state and federal law, employers must provide reasonable accommodation for qualified applicants and employees who happen to have a disability. However, some Orange County employers make half-hearted efforts to follow these requirements or fail to do so at all. In such cases, disabled applicants or employees may need the assistance of a disability discrimination lawyer.
What is disability discrimination in the workplace?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, workplace disability discrimination occurs when employers treat qualified applicants or employees unfavorably because they have a disability or a perceived disability. Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal Rehabilitation Act, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers are required to make “reasonable accommodations” for applicants and employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause “undue hardship,” such as significant expense or difficulty, to the employer.
Who is protected?
State and federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. They also prohibit employers from discriminating against those who have a relationship or known association with an individual with disabilities.
Among those protected from discrimination are individuals who have substantial impairments involving vision, hearing, speech, mobility, breathing, learning, self-care, performing manual tasks and working. In general, disability laws cover people who have a disability that limits one or more major life activities, who have a history of disability or who are regarded to have a disability.
Examples of people who have disabilities that limit their activity include those with paralysis, substantial sight or hearing impairments, and epilepsy. Examples of people with a history of disability could include those with mental illness or cancer that is in remission. Examples of people regarded to have a disability could include those who have significant physical disfigurements, such as individuals who have burn scars. Such individuals may not have a physical or mental disability, but employers may be hesitant to hire them because they fear the negative reactions of customers or other employees.
Individuals who have relationships or known associations with disabled people are also protected from discrimination. Examples of people in this situation could include an employee with a disabled spouse or a job applicant whose child has been diagnosed with cancer.
Examples of disability discrimination in the workplace
Workplace disability discrimination can occur in many forms. If disabled job applicants or employees experience any of these common scenarios, they may benefit from contacting a disability discrimination attorney for assistance:
- Disability-focused harassment, bullying, intimidation or threats in the workplace
- Denial of reasonable accommodations
- Denial of a job one is qualified for and able to perform
- Denial of promotions, training, assignments or benefits due to a disability
- Unfavorable treatment when compared to employees without disabilities
- Discriminatory company policies that cause disadvantage to those with disabilities
- Medical exams before job offers are made
- Denial of time off to care for a disabled spouse or child
Some examples of reasonable accommodations that employers must provide for disabled employees include:
- Providing disabled parking spaces close to the workplace
- Ensuring a workplace is wheelchair accessible
- Providing seating for an employee who cannot stand for long periods
- Allowing frequent breaks for employees with certain medical conditions
- Providing deaf or blind employees with an interpreter or reader
- Making needed adjustments to the height of a desk or shelving to meet the needs of a disabled employee
- Disability discrimination statistics
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, workplace disability discrimination claims have risen sharply over the past 20 years. In 1997, the agency received 18,108 disability discrimination charges, which accounted for 22.4 percent of all discrimination claims that year. In 2017, it received 26,838 disability discrimination charges, which accounted for 31.9 percent of all claims that year.
Despite the rising number of claims, experts believe that many disability discrimination cases actually go unreported. That isn’t surprising considering the number of people living with disabilities in the U.S. People with disabilities make up the largest minority group in the country. Nearly 29 percent of American families have at least one member with a disability. Meanwhile, almost 20 percent of the U.S. population is listed as disabled, and around 10 percent qualify as severely disabled. Further, over 65 percent of working-age adults with disabilities are currently unemployed. One study found that 36 percent of all U.S. workers have experienced some sort of on-the-job discrimination during their careers. Of those who suffered discrimination, 51 percent said they have been refused a job due to a disability.
Do I need to hire a disability discrimination lawyer?
Job applicants or employees facing disability-related workplace discrimination should contact an Orange County disability discrimination attorney for help. Discrimination claims are time-sensitive, so the sooner a legal professional is contacted, the better. An attorney could carefully review the details of a case, determine if an employer violated a disabled employee’s legal rights and help decide whether a claim is worth pursuing. If it is, legal counsel could file a complaint with the appropriate agency, likely the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and attempt to negotiate a fair settlement with the employer.
Common damages paid in a disability discrimination settlement include:
- Back wages
- Front wages
- Lost benefits
- Consequential damages, such as increased medical expenses due to lost benefits or damaged credit due to lost income
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
In addition to paying damages, the employer may be ordered to end its discriminatory practices and take steps to ensure that incidents of disability discrimination do not occur in the future.
Contact a lawyer at Rizio Liberty Lipinsky to start your free initial consultation today!
- This article should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship with anyone. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney in your community.
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Disability Discrimination Lawyer
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