Although most people are employed "at will," meaning that there is always an understanding that complete job security is never a certainty, there are still protections in place based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) standards. These standards forbid discrimination based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation or disability status.
If you feel you may have been subject to discrimination due to a disability, here are five important things to be aware of:
1. Not every medical condition qualifies as a protected disability under the law.
To show discrimination is present, employees need to prove that they are disabled based on a physical or mental condition that limits their ability to engage in a major life activity (such as speaking, seeing, hearing, walking or learning) in a substantial way.
In most cases, the disability should be one that is long term, lasting over six months, or permanent. However, ailments that last a shorter period of time may be protected as well.
2. Disabled persons are allowed to ask their employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" in order to be able to do their jobs.
An employer should comply with these accommodations as long as the expense involved will not cause a hardship to the business. Examples of accommodations include purchasing adaptive equipment or hiring a sign language interpreter.
3. Disabled employees or applicants cannot be singled out when it comes to medical exams.
If an exam is required for a disabled employee, it should be required of everyone.
4. Those who have a history of disability are still protected against disability discrimination, even if the disabling condition is in remission.
Cancer patients often fall into this category. Employers may be asked to make provisions for an employee undergoing difficult treatment or other drawbacks of the disease.
5. Disability discrimination can happen to those who are not disabled, such as those who have a family member who is disabled.
Many employees in these situations are passed up for advancement or are let go for no other legitimate reason.
If you are living with a disability, life is already more difficult than it is for most people. If you suspect foul play in your workplace, a qualified employee rights attorney may be able to help. Don't hesitate to contact one and learn more about your rights.