Disability Discrimination

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Our attorneys believe in disability rights, accessibility, and inclusion.  Unfortunately, people with disabilities continue to face widespread barriers to employment, technology, education, and housing.We have fought disability discrimination in the workplace, and we have brought cases to ensure that housing is fully accessible to people with disabilities. We help clients assert their civil rights and enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal and state laws.

What are the legal protections against Disability Discrimination?

Legal protections against disability discrimination exist to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities and ensure equal opportunities in various aspects of life. Understanding these legal protections is essential for combating disability discrimination. Here are key legal protections against disability discrimination:

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act: The ADA is a landmark federal law in the United States that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in various areas, including employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. It requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities and prohibits discrimination based on disability in public and private entities.
  2. Rehabilitation Act of 1973: This law prohibits disability discrimination by federal agencies, contractors, and programs receiving federal funding. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in programs and activities conducted by these entities.
  3. Fair Housing Act (FHA): The FHA prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on disability. It requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities and to design and construct new multifamily dwellings with accessibility features.
  4. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): The IDEA ensures that students with disabilities have access to a free appropriate public education in the United States. It provides special education and related services to eligible students and protects their rights to ensure they receive an equal opportunity to education.
  5. State and local laws: Many states and local jurisdictions have enacted additional laws that protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination. These laws may provide additional safeguards or expand upon the protections offered by federal legislation.

These legal protections establish a framework to combat disability discrimination and promote equal treatment and opportunities for individuals with disabilities. They empower people to seek legal remedies, file complaints, and pursue legal action if they experience disability discrimination.

Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

Disability discrimination in the workplace can take different forms, such as refusal to hire qualified individuals with disabilities, denial of promotions or training opportunities, unequal pay, harassment, or unjustified termination based on disability. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act prohibit disability discrimination in the workplace. 

Under the ADA, a person has a disability if they have or is perceived to have a physical or mental impairment that:

  1. substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, hearing, seeing, sitting, standing, sleeping, breathing, caring for oneself, lifting, bending, speaking, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, working, or the performance of manual tasks; or
  2. substantially limits a major bodily function, such as functions of the immune system, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, or reproductive functions.

The ADA protects “qualified individuals,” that is, employees and job applicants who can perform the essential functions of a job with or without a reasonable accommodation

Employers must provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, unless to do so would cause undue hardship.

Are employers required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are generally required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities as long as the accommodation is not an undue hardship. This requirement applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications to the work environment that allows a person with a disability who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job and enjoy equal employment opportunities. The specific accommodations can vary depending on the person’s needs and the nature of their disability. Some common examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  1. Modifying work schedules or providing flexible hours.
  2. Providing assistive devices or technologies, such as screen readers or ergonomic equipment.
  3. Modifying physical workspaces to make them accessible.
  4. Granting additional breaks or modifying work policies.

It’s important to note that employers are not required to provide accommodations that would impose undue hardship on their business. Factors such as the cost, size of the organization, and the impact on operations are taken into consideration when determining undue hardship. However, employers are encouraged to explore all possible options before concluding that an accommodation would cause undue hardship.

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