How to Protect Your Rights as a Disabled Worker

How to Protect Your Rights as a Disabled Worker

The Americans with Disabilities Act is very broad. It protects workers who have a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” This law also “protects individuals who have a record of a substantially limiting impairment, and people who are regarded as having a substantially limiting impairment.” In other words, the ADA applies if an employee has a current, prior, or perceived disability. 

Theoretically, these rights protect millions of workers. But unless an assertive Chicago employment discrimination lawyer stands up for these rights in court, they are just ink on paper. An attorney thoroughly reviews your case and lays out all your legal options. Then, once the case goes to court, an attorney fights for you.

Know Your Rights

We mentioned the ADA above. This federal law is just one of several laws that protects disabled Illinois workers.

The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination, financial credit bias, public accommodation discrimination, housing bias, and sexual harassment, as well as sexual harassment in education. The IHRA does not designate protected classes, such as disability or gender. Instead, a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer must simply prove the employer or other organization took adverse action against a person for a discriminatory reason.

The Family Medical Leave Act also applies to people with temporary disabilities. FMLA gives qualifying workers recovering from serious injury or illness, or workers caring for family members recovering from serious injury or illness, up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period. The leave need not be consecutive. So, disabled individuals can go to work when they feel up to it and go home, or stay home, if their illness or injury is too much to bear.

FMLA leave is automatic. Employees usually must only submit the required paperwork. Nevertheless, FMLA disputes are common. Many employers hate FMLA leave, especially intermittent FMLA leave.

Informal Complaints

Disability discrimination victims should not rush to the courthouse to file claims. It is usually a good idea to present a disability discrimination complaint to an employer and give the employer a chance to make things right.

“Making things right” usually includes approving leave or providing a requested accommodation. The accommodation must be reasonable, which usually means a doctor has signed off on the request as medically necessary.

Formal Complaints

Aggrieved employees should not rush to the courthouse, but they should not unduly delay the process either. These victims, like all other injury victims, have a limited amount of time to act.

Federal and state bureaucrats have the power to enforce the ADA and the IHRA. If the employee has an indefensible claim and a right to significant damages, these lawyers often take the case. However, if a defense could apply or the potential damages are negligible, these agencies usually pass on these cases.

A private Chicago employment discrimination lawyer believes in standing up for employee rights, not in furthering a political agenda. So, lawyers usually accept these cases, even if they are challenging and/or involve limited damages.

These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as lost wages, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additionally, the court usually enters a consent decree. This court order helps ensure that employers change the way they do business and respect the rights of disabled workers.

Reach Out to a Tough-Minded Cook County Attorney

Job bias victims have legal options in Illinois. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago employment discrimination attorney, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline.