Disability Discrimination

Rights of the Disabled Worker

Posted in Disability Discrimination on July 25, 2016

Disabled Office WorkerEmployment discrimination against qualified persons with disabilities is not only illegal but prohibited by the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The ADA covers all types of employers, from federal to private. Furthermore, the law affects all aspects of employment such as hiring, firing, promotions, training, benefits, and other employment issues. If you find that any of your rights regarding employment issues have been violated you should contact an experienced employment law attorney immediately.

The ADA views a disability as any mental or physical impairment that substantially limits major life activities. According to the ADA the term disability means:

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities such as: breathing, seeing, hearing, walking, sitting, standing, sleeping, caring for yourself, lifting, or learning.
  • Having a record of an impairment
  • Being regarded as having an impairment

New York State law provides broader protection for employees with disabilities than the federal law outlined in the ADA. The New York state statute includes conditions such as obesity and stress-related diseases or disorders within its definition of disability.

The New York City Human Rights Law applies only to residents of New York City. The law makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone with a disability, which includes HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, the New York City Human Rights Law broadens its definition of a disability to include any medical, mental, or psychological impairment or a history/record of impairment. These protections are much broader than the federal law outlined in ADA.

To be covered by ADA in the workplace, an individual must be qualified to properly perform the main functions of the job. You should have the appropriate education, skills, and experience to be able to perform the essential functions outlined in the job description. However, employers cannot disqualify you from the job, if your disability limits you from performing tasks that are not considered essential to the job.

Your ADA rights require that employers make reasonable accommodations or adjustments to the workplace that will allow you to perform your work successfully. These reasonable accommodations may include:

  • A restructure of training materials and work procedures
  • Flexible or adjustable work schedules
  • Modifications to current equipment and office space
  • Accommodations for persons with disabilities
  • Hiring language interpreters for speech assistance

An employer cannot ask a current employee or potential hire if they possess a disability. This question would be inappropriate and illegal. However, the employer may ask a person if they can perform the major duties of the position. Your answer will help the employer know if they need to create a reasonable accommodation for you to perform the job.

If your employer (or former employer) has wrongfully terminated due to a disability or if any of your employment rights have been violated, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg. Their lawyers will provide an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If your case merits going to court, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg will work diligently to help you find the justice you deserve. Contact the Law Offices of Joseph & Norinsberg at (212) JUSTICE or at info@employeejustice.com for a free initial consultation.

FedEx Sued for Disability Discrimination

Posted in Disability Discrimination on October 27, 2014

FedEx signThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has sued Federal Express after the EEOC’s investigation revealed that the shipping giant has been discriminating against deaf and hard of hearing package handlers and applicants for many years.  The lawsuit alleges that FedEx failed to provide reasonable accommodations for hearing disabled workers and therefore violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), which requires employers to make efforts to reasonably accommodate disabled employees and/or applicants.

The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that FedEx orientation materials did not provide sign language interpretation or closed captioned video trainings.  The company also allegedly “refused” to provide equipment substitutions and modifications such as scanners that vibrate rather than beep.

Disability Discrimination is Prohibited Workplace Misconduct

The Americans with Disabilities Act and New York Human Rights laws prohibit employers with 15 or more employees under the ADA and 4 or more employees under state law from discriminating against employees or applicants on the basis of disabilities.  The laws prohibit discrimination in all aspects of the employment relationship, including hiring, firing, pay, promotion and others.  They also protect employees from unlawful retaliation when they exercise their right to complain under the law.

In addition to prohibiting discrimination against employees with qualifying disabilities, the laws require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities.  The FedEx lawsuit discussed above provides excellent examples of accommodations that would likely be found reasonable in that an employee may need closed captioning on training videos or equipment that has a response system that can be felt rather than heard.

“Disability” under the New York law means an impairment that limits the exercise of a normal bodily function, or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory techniques.  This is a broader definition than the ADA requirement that the disability substantially limit one or more major life activities.

If You Are Disabled You Should Request Accommodation

In light of the laws discussed above, if you have a disability that can be accommodated in the workplace do not hesitate to ask your employer.  For example, if you had recent back surgery and need a special chair pad because you are unable to sit for 8 hours a day in a hard-backed chair, you should ask your supervisor for accommodations.  If the employer fails to grant a reasonable accommodation, you may have a claim for disability discrimination under the ADA or New York State Human Rights law.  Don’t let your employer fail to recognize the fact that you need assistance at work, and definitely do not accept any adverse employment action as a result of your exercise of your legal rights.  The employment lawyers at Joseph & Norinsberg will fight for your rights.  Contact us today at 212-JUSTICE or info@employeejustice.com for a free consultation.

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