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Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination occurs when someone treats a disabled employee or applicant unfavorably solely because of that disability. To help combat disability discrimination in the workplace, Congress enacted legislation that specifically requires employers to reasonably accommodate the needs of disabled employees or applicants. Employers who fail to comply with these laws can and should be held accountable, so if you were the victim of discrimination, you should speak with an experienced Chicago disability discrimination attorney who can evaluate your case.

The Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is a federal law that protects employees and job applicants from being discriminated against due to disability. According to the terms of this law, a disabled individual is someone who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity;
  • Has a history of physical or mental impairment; or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

A person who falls under one of these categories and is qualified, meaning that he or she, whether with or without a reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question is protected from discrimination in the following areas:

  • Job application procedures;
  • Hiring;
  • Firing;
  • Advancement;
  • Conditions;
  • Privileges of employment;
  • Compensation; and
  • Job training.

This law applies to private employers, as well as state and local governments, employment agencies, labor unions, and federal sector employers. However, to be covered, the employer must employ 15 or more employees.

Reasonable Accommodations

Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are essentially any alterations to a work environment or job procedure that could help a disabled person apply for or fulfill the duties of a specific job and could include:

  • Making existing facilities readily accessible to and usable by those with disabilities;
  • Job restructuring;
  • Modifying work schedules;
  • Reassigning someone to a vacant position;
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices;
  • Adjusting examinations, training materials, or policies; and
  • Providing qualified readers or interpreters for the hearing or vision impaired.

However, employers are not required to make accommodations for a disabled employee or applicant if doing so would cause undue hardship for the company. In determining whether an employer could have made accommodations, courts analyze the difficulty or expense involved in making the accommodations in light of certain factors, such as the size of the company, the needs of the business, and the employer’s financial resources. However, employers are never obligated to provide personal items, such as hearing aids or glasses for disabled employees. Finally, to receive a reasonable accommodation, the disabled applicant or employee must request one from the employer.

Harassment

It is also unlawful to harass an employee for his or her disability. While simple teasing does not rise to the level of harassment, making offensive jokes or insults can if the behavior is so severe that it creates a hostile work environment for the victim or leads to his or her termination or demotion.

Call an Experienced Chicago Disability Discrimination Attorney Today

If you were fired or denied a job opportunity as a result of bias based on a disability, please contact our Chicago legal team at the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline by calling (312) 558-1454 today.