Disability discrimination at work

Do you feel that your employer has discriminated against you because of a physical or mental disability? You have protections under federal law that provide recourse for this type of treatment. 

Familiarize yourself with the laws that govern disability discrimination and learn whether you may have a claim. 

Americans with Disabilities Act 

Under this law, people who have a disability must receive the same access as nondisabled individuals to jobs, government services, public transportation, public spaces and telecommunications. The act applies to individuals who have a mental or physical condition that limits their ability to learn, hear, see, talk or walk, and/or a history of chronic illness or disability that impacts the ability to work. 

Prohibited employer activities under the ADA include: 

  • Fostering or allowing an environment of harassment based on the person’s disability 
  • Discriminating against the disabled person in hiring, promoting, training, project opportunities and/or compensation 
  • Asking questions about the person’s disability during the hiring process 
  • Failing to provide reasonable accommodations, such as a flexible work schedule for a person who has to attend frequent medical appointments because of his or her disability, unless doing so would provide undue hardship to the company 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protection 

The EEOC administers federal employment anti-discrimination laws, which shield disabled individuals and other protected groups from unfair treatment and harassment at work. The agency requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations that help a person with a disability succeed in his or her work role. 

The EEOC also protects individuals who file discrimination claims against their employers from retaliation. That means your employer cannot fire, demote or refuse to promote you for initiating or participating in a discrimination investigation. 

When you think you are the victim of disability-based workplace discrimination, you must first file a complaint with the EEOC. You have 180 days to file this type of claim after the discriminatory act occurs. If taking this step does not resolve the situation, you can opt to file a lawsuit against your employer.