Disability Discrimination | Shegerian & Associates

Confident disabled business woman in wheelchair working at office desk and checking paperwork

If you have suffered an injury that lead to permanent disability, you may fear discrimination by employers. Luckily, there are laws to protect people with disabilities against discrimination. If you want to better protect your rights, learn more about disability discrimination.

What Is Disability Discrimination?

Some people with certain disabilities can no longer perform certain tasks. For this reason, some employers may not want to keep those employees around. They may fire you because of your disability, or they may refuse to hire you in the first place even though you can do the job despite your disability. Employers may also refuse to give promotions or raises to employees with disabilities.

Even if your employer doesn’t fire you, however, you can still be discriminated against in other ways. Other employees may ostracize you or constantly make fun of your disability. You may even be left out of certain work events because they feel your disability will cause problems. When the behavior is long-lasting and prevents you from doing your job, it creates a hostile work environment for you.

Can You Be Fired for Your Disability?

For the most part, you can’t be fired for your disability. Your employer also can’t refuse to hire, promote, etc. people based solely on their disability. However, if you are completely unable to do the tasks required for the job, your employer doesn’t need to keep you in that position. Additionally, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also protects you if you have to take time off work for medical reasons.

Of course, some disabilities have other side effects. For example, if your disability causes severe pain, it may affect your mood, making you more likely to lash out at people and be more difficult to work with. If this is the case, your employer may be allowed to fire you.

Can You Be Harassed for Your Disability?

Some employers don’t fire employees with disabilities, but they may harass or allow other employees to harass you. Some employers may do this because they hope you will quit since they can’t fire you for your disability. But they also shouldn’t harass you for your disability.

Proving harassment can be difficult, however, because employers could claim they were only teasing you, which isn’t necessarily protected under the law. One random offhand insult or remark may also not equal harassment. However, if your employer or employees are regularly insulting you because of your disability, you may be able to take legal action.

Does Your Employer Need to Provide Reasonable Accommodation?

In some cases, you can still do your job even with the disability if certain accommodations are provided. For example, if your job is customer service on the second floor of a building, and your disability only affects your ability to walk, you can keep doing your job as long as you can get to it.

This may mean installing an elevator, so you ca get to the second floor. Even if the company is small and can’t afford a renovation, they can move your work station to the first floor. If your employer refuses to make reasonable changes to accommodate you, you may be able to make a case against them. If the accommodations put extreme hardship on the business, however, they may be allowed to refuse.

Disabilities are common, and they can make working difficult. However, if you can still work with a disability (with or without accommodations), you have some rights to protect you under the law. To learn more about disability discrimination, or if you have already been the victim of disability discrimination in the workplace, contact us at Shegerian & Associates today.

Manuela Varela

Relations Manager

Manuela Varela has been with Shegerian & Associates since August 2022. She is responsible for outreach and marketing on behalf of the firm and manages relationships between firms and referring attorneys. She is also responsible for developing business opportunities and affiliations. Manuela graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Economics and Political Science.