The average person thinks that discrimination against the disabled has been outlawed since time immemorial. However, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was only passed in 1990, and nearly 30 years later, it is often not enforced. In some cases, it’s even openly ignored. Disabled people simply deserve better—especially in terms of employment, where many employers either find reasons not to hire a disabled applicant or simply discard a disabled employee once they become a perceived a “burden.”
If you believe that you have been discriminated against due to disability by an employer, be advised that you do have options. Contact the law firm of Hitchcock & Potts for assistance.
Definitions and Clarifications
A disability, under the ADA, is defined as a physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits” one or more major life activities for the individual. Disability discrimination, as defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), is when an employer “treats an applicant or employee less favorably” because of their disability or past disability history. It is also qualifies as disability discrimination when someone is treated less favorably due to their relationship with someone who is disabled (for example, the mother of a disabled child).
The two most common forms of disability discrimination are denial of reasonable accommodation and harassment. Harassment is not the same as the occasional teasing—rather, it is a sustained, targeted pattern of behavior, and it creates a hostile or offensive work environment. If a disabled employee is being harassed on the basis of their disability, the employer can be sued because harassment effectively keeps the employee from performing their job duties.
Denial of Reasonable Accommodation
Perhaps the most serious way that employers discriminate against disabled employees is to deny them accommodations that would be reasonable for them to make. The ADA mandates that employers make accommodations that would assist disabled employees in performing their duties, but only if those accommodations are not an undue hardship—in other words, if it would not cost a significant or disproportionate amount of money or difficulty for the business. Undue hardship is assessed on a case by case basis.
It is a general rule that when determining if an accommodation is reasonable (or it would constitute undue hardship), an employer must engage in an “interactive” process—that is, they must engage with the employee and try to discuss the feasibility of the accommodation before passing judgment on its possibility. If an employer does not do this, or even if they do and then rule that an accommodation is an undue hardship unjustly, it can be persuasive evidence that the disabled employee is not seen as valuable. It can also contribute to a finding of discrimination.
Contact A Dedicated Employment Lawyer
Disabled people deserve the right to work at any job they can competently do, and accommodations can help them to achieve that goal. If you believe that you have been discriminated against due to disability, contacting an experienced South Carolina employment attorney is a good idea. Attorney A. Christopher Potts is well versed in this field, and will work hard to give you the best shot at winning your case. Contact the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today for a consultation.