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Employees With Hidden Disabilities Often Suffer Discrimination

From chronic pain and fatigue to disruptive headaches and mood swings, millions of U.S. adults suffer from disabling and hidden or invisible medical conditions. For these individuals, daily life can be a struggle as their disability permeates all aspects of their lives, including their ability to get and keep a job.

While most workers are aware of the legal protections afforded to employees who have more visible physical disabilities, a much smaller percentage understand that these protections also apply to workers with less visible disabilities.

Discrimination And Hidden Disabilities

Despite national campaigns to raise awareness of and encourage people with mental health and autoimmune disorders to speak out about the symptoms they experience, people with hidden disabilities still face tremendous stigma and discrimination in both their personal and professional lives.

Have you been diagnosed with one of the following disabling conditions?

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Lyme disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Chronic depression
  • Lupus
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

Provided an employee can perform the essential duties of a job with or without reasonable accommodation, two federal laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, protect employees diagnosed with these and other physical and mental conditions that “substantially limit a major life activity” from suffering acts of workplace harassment and discrimination. These protections extend to job application procedures, hiring practices, job training, advancement opportunities, discharge of employees and compensation.

California and New York each has a state version of the ADA that also prohibits disability discrimination. In fact, California’s state version, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, affords broader protections than the ADA.

Do You Have A Disability Discrimination Claim?

At times, acts of workplace disability discrimination can be difficult to identify and, therefore, combat. Proving that you were passed over for a promotion because your manager knows you have chronic depression or that you’ve been slated into a noncustomer facing role due to your Tourette’s syndrome can be challenging. Also many employers are unaware that they may be obligated to provide additional leave beyond the twelve-week period of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as an accommodation if it is not an undue burden on the employer. Disability discrimination claims are complex and it’s important to enlist the assistance of an experienced employment rights attorney who can help you understand and assert your rights.

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