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10 Examples of Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

Founding Member of Moshes Law, P.C.
During his years of practice, Yuriy has concentrated in litigation and real estate transactions as his areas of expertise.

disability discrimination in the workplace examples

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects Americans against disability discrimination in the workplace cases. It protects you against any kind of past, current, or perceived disability on a federal level.

ADA defines disability as any of the following:

  • Any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits any of the major life activities, such as talking, seeing, listening, working, walking, caring for yourself, and so on (current disability)
  • Having a record of such an impairment (past disability) or
  • Being regarded by others as a person with a disability, such as facial scars, having some kind of illness, and so on (perceived disability).

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Whatever your disability is, no one is allowed to treat you worse because of that. Yet, many Americans, and maybe you, still face violations due to their disabilities. If you are in such a situation, it is important to talk to a New York employment lawyer as soon as possible to make sure that you have been discriminated against and to learn what action you should take next to remove the discrimination and possibly be compensated for that.

If you are still wondering if you should do something or not, here are 10 disability discrimination in the workplace examples to give you a better picture of what disability discrimination is, how ADA protects you.

If you find yourself in any situation described below or any other situation that could make a court case of disability discrimination, call the New York employment attorneys at the Law Office of Yuriy Moshes to discuss your options. The initial consultation is free.

Definition of Disability

Disability is clearly defined by the ADA but sometimes, legal-wise, life creates unclear situations. These situations would leave you wondering if there is a violation against certain standards as set out in the law. In such cases, we need case law to further clarify things. Richardson v. Chicago Transit Authority is one of the most important cases when it comes to clarifying what disability under the ADA is. Mr. Richardson, the plaintiff, is a former bus operator who wanted to return to work after an extended medical leave when his employer’s physician confirmed that he is able to work again.

However, his employer rejected him back claiming that he was not able to work due to obesity. Mr. Richardson sued under the ADA. After weighing in plenty of arguments from both sides, the court affirmed that obesity can be regarded as a disability, but only if it is a consequence of an underlying physiological disorder. Since the plaintiff offered no evidence to prove that his obesity comes from such a disorder, the court took a stance that he has not been discriminated against due to a disability under the ADA. Nevertheless, it made a clarification.

Firing a Candidate Due to Disability

The employer must not make any job-related decision having employee’s or candidate’s disability in mind. Firing or not promoting an employee, not hiring a qualified candidate, reassigning employees to lesser roles – these are all violations of the ADA. If any of these happen to you, you owe it yourself to take action or talk to a lawyer at least to determine whether you have grounds to sue and get monetary compensation due to the employment disability discrimination against you.

In one such case, Camp v. Bi-Lo, the plaintiff was a stock clerk with a back impairment. He could not lift heavy weights due to the back issue. Although the job required lifting packages up to 60 pounds of weight, he could lift only 30 pounds. But, he worked in a team of three people, with whom he had an internal arrangement that they would lift the heavy packages and he would lift the easier ones.

When he was fired, he sued on disability discrimination grounds under the ADA, claiming that lifting heavy weights was not essential for the job, hence the employer failed to accommodate his disability and fired him instead.

The district court decided in the employer’s favor, but the Court of Appeals changed the decision and affirmed that the three-man team had no problems to do the work in the past, therefore firing Mr. Camp constituted disability discrimination in the workplace case.

In another case, Griffiths v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the court held that a worker must not be fired due to disability-related absences. The plaintiff was often absent from work due to the disability, which eventually led to an alleged violation of attendance policy. The court, however, affirmed that disability-related absence does not count as a violation of the attendance policy, therefore the termination of her employment was unlawful.

Finally, make sure that you haven’t done anything wrong to your employer because they’ll use that against you in court. In Ball v. Einstein Community Health Associates, the plaintiff claimed that he has been fired due to his age and disability. Further in the process, his employer took out all the dirt about him: improper billing, questionable narcotics prescription writing, and non-compliance with the pain management policy.

Having said that, you have to be careful and ensure that a disability discrimination in the workplace case is all you would talk about in court. If you find yourself in such a situation, call the New York employment lawyers at the Law Office of Yuriy Moshes. We have experience in dealing with cases like yours and can help you determine if your case qualifies for monetary compensation. If it does, we will help you get the compensation that you deserve.

Discrimination Due to Past Disability,
Giving Negative Verbal References or Withdrawing Job Offers

There are a number of types of disability discrimination in the workplace cases, like those in the following job discrimination examples.

In Pnaiser v. NHS England and another, a landmark disability discrimination in the workplace case, the employee needed to work from home and have several lengthy absences from work due to a disability. As a result, she got a negative verbal reference by the employer which had led to a withdrawal of a job offer by her prospective employer.

The negative verbal reference, in this case, was not allowed. The absence and the need to work from home were due to a disability, therefore treating it like any other absence constitutes a disability discrimination in the workplace example.

No surprise, but the court held that the plaintiff had been discriminated against. Keep in mind that your employer must not give a negative reference for you if your behavior is a consequence of your disability.

Moreover, your present or prospective employer must adjust the employment procedure to your disability in your particular case. The case Waddingham v. NHS Business Services Authority is a real-life example of disability discrimination in the workplace due to failure to adjust the processes to a worker’s disability.

Mr. Waddingham has been going through cancer treatment during a competitive interview process during a redeployment exercise. While the competitive interview process does not inherently mean discrimination, the fact that the employer did not make any reasonable adjustments to accommodate the worker’s disability means a violation of ADA.

Similarly, in London Borough of Southwark v. Charles, the court affirmed that there is an ADA discrimination case because the employer demanded the worker attend numerous redeployment meetings and interviews despite knowing about his disability.

It is important to note that the interviews do not constitute discrimination themselves. It’s their nature that causes legal issues. If it puts certain workers in an unfair position because they suffer from some form of disability, then that process is clearly discriminatory and the employer should be responsible for it.

Failing to Accommodate an Employee’s Disability

Failure to accommodate worker’s disability is one of the most common ADA violations employers are guilty of. Accommodating a disability means adjusting the working conditions to the disability the employee suffers from.

For example, it can be installing a wheelchair ramp, introducing screen magnification for employees with visibility impairment, speech-to-text dictation software for persons suffering from dyslexia, air-conditioning for persons with a chronic health condition, moving the disabled person to a different workplace appropriate for their disability, and so on.

disability discrimination in the workplace cases

The adjustments made must be reasonable for both the employer and the employee.

Reasonable on the employer’s side means that the adjustment has to be economically sound. A large corporation usually must accommodate most of the disabilities because they can afford to do so. A small business just starting out, however, may not be obligated to install a wheelchair ramp in the beginning because it is expensive and that may hurt its chances to survive.

Reasonable adjustments for the employee means that it has to be appropriate for the employee’s disability. It must not be just a minor change, but a change that really affects the workplace and the working conditions in a positive way.

What is a reasonable accommodation of a person’s disability depending largely on the actual disability and the possibilities the employer has. It can vary from simple furniture alterations to making massive adjustments in the workplace.

If you believe that you or someone you know are a victim of job disability discrimination, you owe it to yourself to talk to a New York employment lawyer as soon as possible and determine whether you have a case and what can be done about that. The Law Office of Yuriy Moshes helps people in your situation and are at your service.

The case Martinez v. University Medical Center makes a good example of non-accommodation of an employee’s disability. Mr. Martinez worked for the medical center where his duties involved lifting heavy boxes. He had suffered from a back injury which required lifting up to certain amount of weights. He’d been completing his duties successfully while complying to doctor’s restrictions.

However, when his employer demanded lifting heavier boxes, he refused, which resulted in suspension. He sued the employer over several causes, including failure to accommodate his disabilities. The court did not give summary judgement to the employer and the case is yet to be decided by the jury.

In Wheatley v. Factory Card and Party Outlet the court sided with the employee in a similar situation. Ms. Wheatley spent some time out of work due to a foot injury. The employer asked her to come back to work when the leave was exhausted and made it clear that her contract would be terminated if she fails to return to work.

She requested to return to work wearing a walking boot, but the employer would not allow that. Since her job involved standing on feet for several hours a day and climbing ladders, it ruled that the employer failed to accommodate her disability.

Another important thing to consider when discussing possible lawsuit with your lawyer is the time when the failure for disability accommodation occurred. Even though ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) discourages courts to make analysis whether disability exists on the side of the plaintiff, courts still consider the time of the incident. If it happened before the effective date of the ADAAA, you may be deprived of the compensation you thought you deserve. That’s what nearly happened in the case Wegner v. Upstate Farms Co-op, but the broader consideration in the New York state law saved him from applying the original version of the ADA. Under that version, he wouldn’t have been able to sue.

Not Promoting Someone Due to Family’s Member Disability

Last but not least, you should know that you could be discriminated even in the case when not you, but a member of your family is disabled. Disabled family members often require extensive care and some employers want to avoid employees with such duties.

Think of spouse who has to care for the disabled partner or a parent who takes care of disabled child. They apply for a promotion, but the employer, given their life situation, do not give them what they deserve because they assume the worker cannot commit to the work fully.

This decision is not based on applicant’s qualifications, but on the fact that they have a disabled close person. That constitutes disability discrimination in the workplace example. Many people do not realize that this is illegal and do not take action. But, if you have been discriminated on such basis, do not hesitate to call a lawyer.

New York ADA Lawyers

All these disability discrimination in the workplace examples should show you that employees who face unfair treatment can find justice if they take legal action. If you believe that you may have a discrimination case, contact an attorney at the Law Office of Yuriy Moshes for help. Our experienced New York disability discrimination attorneys are at your service.

Law Office of Yuriy Moshes

We’ll make sure that you’ll receive justice and proper compensation. We assist victims in the greater New York City area including all of its boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island) as well as Northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Upstate New York.
Call us today at 888-445-0234. The initial consultation is free.

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