Disability Discrimination Attorney
Although discrimination happens in a variety of settings and comes in different forms, it frequently occurs in the workplace. Some people are born with a disability, and others may develop impairment due to a traumatic event. So long as a person can perform the duties required, no person should be denied gainful employment due to a disability they may have.
Regrettably, discrimination based on someone’s disability too often impacts employment decisions. Fortunately, federal and state legislation is in place that provides protection for those who face disability harassment.
At Halunen Law, we have more than 25 years of experience putting those laws to work to fight for equality in the workplace. All consultations are free, and you pay nothing unless we are successful in obtaining a recovery on your behalf.
What is Disability Discrimination?
Disability discrimination occurs anytime an employment decision is made due to a person’s disability. If a person can perform the essential duties of their job, with or without reasonable accommodation, it is illegal to terminate their employment because of a disability. Protection against discrimination can be found in both federal and state laws.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA became federal law in 1990, with the intent to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities and rights as afforded to everyone else.
This comprehensive civil rights legislation prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all aspects of mainstream American life, including:
- Private areas that are open to the general public
- State and local government programs and services
Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA is an equal opportunity law for those with impairments. Significant amendments in 2008 were made to the ADA to ensure the broadest protections possible for those with disabilities.
Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA)
The MHRA makes it illegal to treat you differently because you belong to a protected class of people. It prohibits discrimination in protected areas, such as
- Public Services and Accommodations
Not every unfair act is illegal, and there are some exceptions to the coverage. Halunen Law discrimination attorneys are well-versed in the state and federal laws protecting persons with disabilities. We can help you determine if the treatment you endure is against the law and discuss your options.
Conditions Defined as Disabilities
According to the U.S. Government, a disability, as it relates to the ADA and similar legislation, is a physical or mental condition that materially limits major life activities such as self-care, eating, sleeping, sitting, lifting, bending, breathing, learning, reaching, and communicating with others. If you have a condition that makes any of these and similar activities a challenge, you may be among those protected by anti-discrimination laws.
A disability can also encompass the operation of bodily systems and functions, such as:
Conditions and diseases that can be treated with different forms of therapy and medications such as depression, cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and degenerative diseases can also qualify as disabilities, even if they are inactive.
Additionally, being discriminated against for a perceived disability, even if you don’t have one, is illegal.
When Does Disability Discrimination Occur?
During the recruitment process, potential employers cannot legally ask about your past or current medical conditions, nor can they ask you to take a medical exam. Discrimination based on mental or physical disabilities is prohibited throughout various employment aspects, including but not limited to:
- Hiring and firing
- Job assignments
Under federal and Minnesota state law, you have the right to obtain and keep your job if you can complete the essential tasks required, with or without reasonable accommodation. Essential tasks are the core functions of your job duties that you do every day, not those you engage in only on occasion.
Courts will look at several items when determining if a task is an essential function of the job, including the job description, the amount of time spent on the task, and the experiences of others with the same job.
If you can complete the essential functions of a job without accommodation, you are still protected from discrimination. However, if an accommodation would allow to compete those functions, an employer has an obligation to provide you with one, so long as it’s reasonable.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
According to the law, reasonable accommodation must be provided to disabled employees unless the accommodation would cause the employer undue hardship.
Undue hardship may include infringing on the rights of other employees, impairing workplace safety, or requiring significant monetary expense. The goal is to make a change in the workplace that enables a qualified employee with a disability to perform the core duties of a job. Examples of reasonable accommodation include:
- Modified or part-time shifts
- Job restructuring
- Modification or acquisition of equipment or devices
- Reassignment to an open position
- Provision of aids on a periodic or temporary basis
Some forms of disability discrimination are the result of a business not recognizing certain conditions, such as mental disabilities. However, employers that do not allow workers to take time to seek treatment or fail to make reasonable accommodations may be liable for disability discrimination.
If an employer makes remarks that belittle your condition or subject you to working conditions contrary to your needs, you may be a victim of disability harassment.
Pregnancy can be considered a temporary disability. Employers must legally make reasonable accommodations during this time and not treat a woman differently than other employees. If you feel driven out of your job or victimized because of your pregnancy, there are state and federal laws that prohibit this behavior. We can help you assert your rights and advocate for you.
Disability Discrimination Retaliation
If you believe your employer discriminates based on your disability or perceived disability, you are entitled to take action. Federal and Minnesota anti-retaliation laws include provisions that protect employees who report unanswered requests for reasonable accommodation and discrimination. Retaliation may be in the form of job termination, demotion, and negative changes in benefits or perks.
Filing Disability Discrimination Claims
The 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the MHRA make it easier for workers to seek protection against disability discrimination and establish a legally defined disability.
The ADA prohibits retaliation against employees who file disability discrimination complaints or charges. Several elements must be present in a successful disability discrimination claim. The first is that your condition meets the legal definition of disability.
Not all physical and mental conditions fall under the ADA. Next, if necessary, you’ll need to prove that you requested a reasonable accommodation, and your employer either failed to respond or responded inadequately. Your requested accommodation must fit the criteria for “reasonable.”
If your claim includes disability harassment, you’ll be required to demonstrate that the workplace atmosphere is toxic enough to create a hostile work environment.
The team at Halunen Law has decades of experience in employment law and successful in the courtroom – we’ve obtained millions on behalf of our clients that have been discriminated against.
We help clients navigate the complex legal process for the best possible outcome. Ensuring your rights are protected is why we do this work. . Contact us today for a free consultation.