What to Know About Proving Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
As an employee, you are entitled to fair treatment at your workplace from your employer and your colleagues. Unfortunately, cases of disability discrimination still occur in the workplace despite the existence of laws like the American Disability Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on disability. If you have a disability and experience discrimination because of your condition, you have a right to file a complaint against your employer. While you may be entitled to compensation, you have to prove your discrimination claims adequately. Read on for more information on what you should know about proving disability discrimination in the workplace.
What is Disability Discrimination?
Before filing a disability discrimination complaint, you have to understand what it means. Doing so ensures that you have a valid case before beginning your quest for reprieve. As the name suggests, disability discrimination is unfair or unfavorable treatment due to your disability. Disability discrimination at the workplace can occur in the following six ways.
- Direct discrimination
- Indirect discrimination where your workplace policies negatively impact the disabled more than their counterparts.
- Victimization for filing a discrimination complaint
- Failure to make adjustments to accommodate your disability in the workplace
- Discrimination arising from disability.
In case you experience any of the above unfair treatments, you can file a disability discrimination complaint.
Proof that Your Condition Qualifies as a Disability
The first step to proving disability discrimination is showing that you have a qualifying disability and the treatment you received was due to the condition. Disability can be mental or physical, and it should impair your ability to carry out your major life activities. Examples of disabilities include paralysis, allergies, mental illnesses like anxiety, as well as learning impairment.
You can prove that you have a disability through medical records, doctor's reports, or if you are regarding as having a qualifying impairment. To get accurate information about qualifying conditions, you should talk to a disability lawyer as they have a better understanding of the law.
Reasonable Accommodation from Your Employer
According to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, employers should provide reasonable accommodation to employees with a disability unless doing so harms the business. Reasonable accommodation ensures you enjoy the same privileges and services when applying for a job or performing your duties as your counterparts. One way your employer can accommodate you is by adjusting the working environment to make it more accessible.
If your employer fails to honor your accommodation request, you can file a complaint under the ADA for discrimination. You should, however, ensure that your accommodation request is reasonable. As such, you need to show that your request is possible after considering the needs and financial resources of the business.
Proving Harassment Due to Disability
Harassment due to disability can present itself in various ways such a teasing, name-calling, making faces and offensive jokes, or any other activity that makes you feel humiliated, degraded, frightened, or offended. If you experience any of the actions at your workplace, they can count as discrimination even if they mean no harm or the person has no idea that you have a disability.
To prove harassment because of disability, the treatment you get should be severe enough to create a hostile working environment. Therefore, neutral remarks may not count as harassment. However, continuous behaviors that you find demeaning may qualify as a disability and lead to liability.
Retaliation for Making a Disability Discrimination Claim
If you report disability discrimination, the ADA protects you from acts of retaliation from your employer. Sometimes, an employer may make adverse decisions such as firing you for your involvement in a disability discrimination case.
The burden of proof lies on the employee as you have to show that your employer’s action is due to your participation in a disability discrimination case. Once you adequately show that your employer’s decisions fall under retaliation, your employer will be liable under the ADA and the Title VII of Civil Rights.
Disability Discrimination During Interviews
Disability discrimination can also occur during the hiring process where an employer asks you about your medical history or condition. The law also prohibits employers from making you take a medical exam or identify your disability during the interview process.
Your employer should not ask about the nature of your disability regardless of its obviousness or visibility. You can, however, ask your employer how you are going to perform your duties if you are hired, with or without accommodation.
The above information will go a long way in helping you prove disability discrimination at the workplace. Since proving discrimination can be challenging, it is advisable to work with a disability attorney to help you prove your case and get the justice you deserve. Consulting an attorney from the time you feel discriminated against will give you access to professional advice and assistance in taking the right course of action.