Do you have a mental or physical condition that your employer will not accommodate? Have you been terminated, suspended, or disciplined in any way because of a work performance issue caused by your disability? Do you need someone in your corner to help communicate to your employer that you have a disability or medical condition?
Contact our experienced Disability Discrimination attorneys today to determine whether you have experienced disability discrimination in the workplace.
What is Disability Discrimination?
Federal and Wisconsin laws exist to protect individuals and employees from discrimination in the workplace because of their disabilities. Discrimination can include all of the following:
- Termination or being fired
- Pay or compensation
- Failure to promote
- Failure to provide reasonable accommodations
- Altering job assignments
- Denial of short-term disability leave
- Failure to provide benefits
- Any other term or condition of employment
Disability discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee or applicant with a disability unfavorably because he or she:
- Has a disability
- Has a history of a disability, such as cancer that is controlled or in remission
- Is believed to have a disability, regardless of whether the “disability” actually exists
Disability discrimination is prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA). Both laws require an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to employees or applicants with disabilities, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer or undue hardship. These laws also protect people from discrimination based on their relationship with or to a person who has a disability, even if they do not themselves have a disability. For example, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because her husband has a disability.
Is It a Disability in the Eyes of the Law?
The ADA and WFEA only protect those employees or applicants who have a “disability.” Not everyone who has a mental or physical condition is considered “disabled” by the ADA or WFEA. However, many employees or applicants do not realize that they have disabilities that are recognized by the ADA and WFEA.
Generally, if you are an employee or applicant who meets one of the following categories, you are considered to have a disability:
- You have a physical or mental condition that affects a major life activity, such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning
- You have a history of a disability, such as cancer that is in remission
- You are perceived as having a physical or mental impairment, even if you do not have the impairment
Disability Discrimination & Job Applicants
An employer cannot ask a job applicant to answer medical questions, take a medical exam, or identify a disability. After a job is offered to an applicant, the law allows an employer to condition the job offer on the applicant answering certain medical questions or successfully passing a medical exam, but only if all new employees in the same type of job have to answer the same questions or take the same exam.
Generally, an employer can only require an employee to submit to a medical exam if the employer needs medical documentation to support an employee’s request for an accommodation, or if the employer has a reasonable belief based on objective evidence that a medical condition will impair an employee’s ability to safely or successfully perform essential job functions
Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodations
An employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee or applicant with a disability unless doing so would cause an undue hardship, specifically that the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive to provide, in light of the employer’s size, financial resources, and the needs of the business.
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment, or in the way things are usually done, to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. Reasonable accommodations can include just about anything, from making the workplace wheelchair accessible, to providing a leave of absence, to pairing down an employee’s job duties, to refraining from imposing discipline on an employee while the employee’s medical treatment is allowed to run its course.
An employer may not refuse to provide an accommodation just because it involves some cost. An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant wants. If more than one accommodation works, the employer may choose which one to provide.
Employers cannot harass an applicant or employee because he or she has a disability, has a history of a disability, or is perceived as having a disability, even if the employee does not have one.
Disability harassment occurs when offensive comments are being made by someone in the workplace about another person’s disability, history of disability, or perceived disability. Disability harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as the employee being fired or demoted. The harasser can be the employee’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
The Walcheske & Luzi, LLC Difference
At Walcheske & Luzi, LLC it is our pledge to provide open and honest advice, taking the time to listen, counsel, and advise. We will work closely with you to determine if you are the victim of disability discrimination. Tell us about your disability discrimination case, we’re ready to help.
Check out our testimonials section, where former clients have described their past experiences with us.