Data released in 2012 show that as many as 1 in 5 people in the United States have some kind of disability. Out of these millions, the majority of them work. However, a significant percentage have extreme difficulty in finding work, often because of their disclosure of disability. Many are unaware that under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and other state and federal regulations, they have certain rights that cannot be ignored or overlooked. If you think you have been treated unfairly due to your disability, you may be able to bring a charge to assert your rights. Learn more about your rights when applying for a job with a disability.
Not Just For Employees
The Americans With Disabilities Act expressly bans discrimination in the workplace on the basis of disability, and it does so in almost every aspect of the process of hiring and firing. Interviewing, salary, benefits, assignments, promotions and training are only some of the areas in which the ADA mandates equal or comparable treatment for able and disabled people. While employers are permitted to ask questions about one’s disability, they are sharply limited in what they can ask—generally, questions must be restricted to your ability to perform the job (with or without reasonable accommodations).
It is important to keep in mind that the ADA applies not just to disabled employees, but also to applicants. You are entitled to privacy and accommodation during the hiring process, regardless of whether or not you are offered the job. There are very limited occasions when someone might be asked to self-identify as disabled, but these are almost exclusively in dealing with federal jobs, which have affirmative action requirements. Beyond that, any question that is asked of you must be able to be linked back to one’s fitness to perform the job, and anything not directly related to that is grounds to protest.
Accommodations Must Be Offered
The major reason that a disabled person might encounter problems with an employer is in offering or not offering the appropriate accommodations needed in order to do the job. The ADA states that reasonable accommodations must be offered to assist a disabled employee to perform their duties. In other words, accommodations must be offered as long as they do not constitute an undue burden upon the employer. What constitutes an “undue burden” on an employer is subjective, depending on the size and capability of the company.
Many employers labor under the misapprehension that a disabled person must by definition be incapable of doing certain jobs. However, this is not an assumption that an employer can, by law, make without witnessing an employee’s capabilities. A disabled applicant cannot be dismissed out of hand. Failure to provide or even discuss providing reasonable accommodations can be a huge red flag in terms of a corporate culture being uniformly hostile to those with disabilities, which is not always actionable, but often is.
Contact An Employment Lawyer
It can feel at times that getting a job is too difficult for people with disabilities, simply because employers are less inclined to even try to look past the potential problems they see in hiring them. If you believe this has happened to you, contacting an employment discrimination lawyer like A. Christopher Potts can help you decide how best to proceed. The Charleston, SC firm of Hitchcock & Potts is well versed in employment discrimination law, and we will be happy to help you with your case.
Contact us today to set up an initial appointment.