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Disability Discrimination in Employment
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in response to widespread discrimination against people with disabilities. It protects the disabled from discrimination in communications, public accommodations, transportation, governmental activities and employment. Most employers are prohibited from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in hiring, firing, benefits, compensation, promotion, training and other aspects of employment. If you have a disability and have faced employment discrimination, contact an attorney from Allred, Maroko & Goldberg in Los Angeles, CA, to discuss your case.
What is a disability?
Under the ADA, a person who has a disability:
- Has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as breathing, walking, hearing, seeing or speaking
- Has a record of this type of impairment or is viewed as having such an impairment
Employers must not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities.
Who is a qualified individual?
A qualified individual with a disability is a person who has the skills, education and experience that are necessary for the job and can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. This means that the individual must be able to do the tasks that are important to the job, but not those that are secondary to the job.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment an employer makes so that an employee with a disability can perform the essential functions of the job. This may include:
- Allowing the employee to telecommute
- Modifying equipment or facilities
- Adjusting the employee's work schedule or job structure
- Reassigning the employee to another available position
If the accommodation is an undue burden for the employer — if it is too expensive or disruptive, for example — then the employer is not required to provide it. The size and resources of the employer are taken into account in determining whether an accommodation is an undue burden. Many accommodations, however, are low-cost and easy to provide, allowing the disabled individual to engage in productive activity at work.
If you need a reasonable accommodation from your employer in order to perform the essential functions of your job, ask for one. Your employer may not be expected to make a reasonable accommodation if the employer does not know that you need it. Engage your employer in a dialogue about what would help you do your job; that way, you are more likely to get what you need.
What may an employer ask a job applicant?
During the initial interview process (before a job offer), there are certain questions the employer must not ask the applicant. This is to prevent the employer from discriminating on the basis of disability in the hiring process. Of course, the employer may explain the requirements of the job and ask the applicant about his or her experience, qualifications and education. Be wary, however, of questions such as:
- Do you have a disability?
- Why do you need a wheelchair?
- Have you ever filed for workers' compensation?
- Are you on any medications?
- Why did you take so much time off at your last job?
Most of the time, any relevant question concerning disability should be asked after a conditional job offer has been made. At that time, the employer may investigate whether reasonable accommodations can be made for a disability. If the applicant brings up his or her disability during the interview, the employer may discuss it as it relates to the duties of the job.
Speak with an employment law attorney
Employees and applicants for employment have the right to be free from discrimination based upon disability. If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your disability, contact an attorney from Allred, Maroko & Goldberg in Los Angeles, CA, to discuss your rights.
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