Over the fast few years, an increasing number of disability discrimination claims have been filed. These types of cases may involve complex issues that can involve such things as pregnancy and workers’ compensation. It is important for you to understand your rights and how you can prove that you were targeted for unlawful disability discrimination. The experienced employment attorneys at Swartz Swidler can advise you about your potential claim.
There are substantial advantages for you to know the remedies that you might have available to you if disability discrimination occurs at your job. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that outlines what is prohibited conduct. Employees should be aware of this law as well as the remedies that might be available when their employers violate it.
Who is covered by the ADA?
The ADA applies to many businesses in the U.S. It covers all employers who have at least 15 employees working either part-time or full-time for them. If you work for a company that has fewer than 15 employees in New Jersey, you still have some protections under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. It covers all employers in the state regardless of their sizes.
While a smaller company might not be liable under the ADA, it may still be liable under the NJLAD. Many other states have enacted similar laws to protect workers at companies with fewer than 15 workers.
How do you meet the definition of disability?
Some injuries and illnesses are not considered to be disabilities under the ADA. In order for you to prove that you were the victim of disability discrimination, you must first meet the criteria of a disability as defined by the ADA.
To meet the definition, you must suffer from a mental or physical impairment that causes a substantial limitation of a major life activity. Major life activities include such things as seeing, hearing, talking, walking, reading, or other activities that have an effect on the human senses.
You may be able to prove that you suffer from a disability by showing that you have a history of having this type of condition. This may be done by getting reports from your doctor and getting copies of your medical records.
A disability claim may arise from many different conditions. The best way for you to determine whether your disability qualifies under the ADA is to talk to an experienced employment lawyer at Swartz Swidler.
Reasonable accommodations for your disability at your job
Under the ADA, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to their disabled employees so that they can perform the essential tasks of their jobs. In order to get reasonable accommodations, the employees are responsible for requesting them. Employers must provide the accommodations unless it would cause undue harm to their businesses. Reasonable accommodations might include such things as making changes to the work environment for workers so that they can complete the tasks of their jobs. It might also include allowing more breaks or reducing the working hours for people who are disabled.
An employer that does not respond to a request for accommodations or that provides an inadequate response may be liable under the ADA. It is important that the request is reasonable, however. Any request that is too expensive or difficult for the business may be denied by the court.
Proving harassment because of a disability at work
Discriminatory harassment against a worker because of his or her disability is also prohibited by the ADA. It is unlawful to harass a worker because of his or her disability or perceived disability regardless of whether the disability actually exists. These provisions are meant to protect workers who might otherwise fall victim to harassment at their jobs.
In order for you to prevail on this type of claim, the harassment that you are subjected to must be severe enough to create a working environment that is hostile or that leads to an adverse job action against you. Occasional and infrequent offhand remarks about your disability may not be enough to prove your disability harassment claim. However, if you are persistently demeaned or have been demoted, it could result in liability.
Proving retaliation based on a disability discrimination claim
Under the ADA, your employer is prohibited from retaliating against you because you complained about disability discrimination. You will be responsible for proving that your employer engaged in an adverse job action against you as a result of you filing a disability discrimination charge or as a result of you participating in a disability discrimination investigation or court proceeding.
If you are able to prove that your employer retaliated against you because of the disability discrimination claim, your employer could be held to be liable under both the ADA and under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Disability discrimination when you apply or interview for a job
An employer may not ask you about your medical history or condition during the application process. Employers are likewise prohibited from requiring applicants to undergo medical exams in order to identify a disability. If an employer violates these requirements, it can result in liability for the employer.
An employer is not able to ask about a disability even when it is obvious during an interview. However, you may ask the employer about the performance of your job duties with accommodations or without them.
Proving disability discrimination
To prove disability discrimination, you may have to rely on expert witnesses. Your employment law attorney may help you to prove that you were discriminated against based on your disability and may be a good resource to resolve your disability discrimination claim.
If you believe that your employer has violated your rights as a disabled worker but are uncertain of how you might prove your claim, talk to an attorney at Swartz Swidler as soon as possible. There are strict statutes of limitations that must be followed for discrimination claims. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.