What is Disability Discrimination at Work?
Disability discrimination at work occurs when an employer or coworker treats someone differently or less favorably because of their disability This type of discrimination can be seen in a variety of ways, including a failure to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, failure to hire or promote based on abilities and not disabilities, or making offensive comments or jokes about disabilities. People with disabilities are protected from discrimination at work by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to allow people with disabilities to perform their job duties, as well as to ensure equal access to and enjoyment of benefits, privileges, and opportunities available to other employees.
Examples of Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
1. Refusal to Make Reasonable Accommodations: One example of disability discrimination in the workplace is when an employer refuses to make reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability. Reasonable accommodations are changes to the work environment or job duties that would enable an employee with a disability to do their job. For example, an employer may not allow an employee in a wheelchair to use an elevator or allow them to park in an accessible parking space.
2. Unwarranted Inquiries about Disabilities: Another example of disability discrimination in the workplace is when employers or co-workers make unwarranted inquiries about a person's disability. This includes asking intrusive questions about an employee’s disability, or requesting that the employee provide additional medical information beyond what is required to determine their eligibility for the job or reasonable accommodations.
3. Pay Discrimination: Disability discrimination in the workplace can also take the form of pay discrimination. This happens when an employer pays an employee with a disability less than they pay other employees without a disability. This form of discrimination is illegal under the ADA.
4. Harassment and Bullying: Harassment and bullying based on a person’s disability is another form of disability discrimination. This includes making offensive comments or jokes about a person’s disability, or otherwise creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
5. Firing or Refusing to Hire: Finally, disability discrimination in the workplace can occur when an employer discriminates against an employee by firing them based on their disability, or refusing to hire a person who has a disability. Employers are not allowed to make decisions about hiring, firing, or promotions based on a person’s disability.
In conclusion, disability discrimination in the workplace is a serious problem that can take many forms, ranging from refusal to make reasonable accommodations to pay discrimination. Employers and employees should be aware of their rights and responsibilities under the ADA, and be on the lookout for any forms of disability discrimination.