Feeling like you are being discriminated against at work is a terrible feeling, whether it is happening in a legal sense or not. When someone has a disability, they want – and deserve – to be treated equally at their place of work. However, according to a data analysis by Sessions & Kimball LLP, disability discrimination claims were higher than any other kind in 2020.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for processing federal discrimination claims from employees around the country. Over 25% of the discrimination claims they received in 2020 related to a disability. Some of the disabilities most cited were depression, anxiety, back impairment, diabetes, and post traumatic stress disorder. There are many other disabilities in addition to these that are protected by the ADA. As long as you have some sort of documented impairment, the ADA will ensure you are protected against discrimination.
Is My Employer Discriminating Against Me?
Before you jump the gun and begin a lawsuit, you should first determine if you even have a potential case. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Disability is one of the “protected classes” that can be subject to discrimination; other classes include sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, and national origin.
If you are disabled, your employer is required to make “reasonable accommodations” for you in the workplace. This means that if an employee is qualified to perform the essential duties of a job, any accommodations necessary for their disability should be made. This could mean installing a ramp at the office, modifying a work schedule to allow for chemotherapy appointments, or providing a sign language interpreter.
Some of the ways in which an employer may discriminate against an employee include decisions on promotions and raises, demotions, time off, benefits, training, and discipline. If you feel that you have been passed over for a promotion or are missing out on employment benefits because of your disability, your employer may be acting illegally.
Ok, How Do I Sue?
While tens of thousands of discrimination claims are filed each year, only a small number of those claims become lawsuits. In 2020, there were 24,324 disability discrimination claims filed, and only 36 turned into lawsuits. In fact, the EEOC found that 52% of those claims had no reasonable cause, and only 16% had merit.
If you do think you have a case, your first step is to file a charge with the EEOC. To be thorough, you can also file a claim with your state or local Fair Employment Practice Agency.
In order for your case to be found as having merit, you will need to provide some sort of proof. Depending on the type of discrimination, it can be difficult to prove that you are being discriminated against at work. However one of the most common types of disability discrimination is a failure to provide reasonable accommodation, which can be easier to prove. You just need to show that you have a disability, you can perform the essential duties of your job with reasonable accommodation, and your employer did not provide that accommodation.