As an American worker, you have the right to perform your job in a workplace free of harassment and other forms of discrimination. This right is protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and for individuals with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
Despite the existence of these laws and the federal agency charged with enforcing them, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employees and job applicants with disabilities continue to suffer unfair treatment in workplaces across the country. Sometimes, it occurs simply because employers cannot afford to make the accommodations that disabled workers need.
In the United Kingdom, a new government program called Access to Work aims to help disabled employees secure and maintain jobs by providing funding to employers who need to alter their offices and other work environments to make them accessible for disabled workers. The program also provides consulting services to employers regarding accessibility in the workplace.
Forms of Disability Discrimination at Work
An employer might be hesitant to hire an individual who needs to take time off regularly to attend doctor appointments or manage their chronic pain. The employer might also feel uneasy about hiring an individual who cannot physically use the equipment available in the workplace.
Disabled workers who do not have the accommodations they need must work harder than able-bodied employees to perform the same jobs. For example, an employee in a wheelchair might have difficulties moving through an office easily, expending time and energy that could be spent performing their job tasks instead.
What are Reasonable Accommodations?
Reasonable accommodations are defined as alterations to an individual’s work environment or schedule that allow them to perform their job effectively without creating an undue burden on the employer. This second half of the definition is as important as the first. An accommodation is not reasonable, and therefore may not be imposed on the employer, if it creates an undue financial burden or a safety hazard to other workers.
A few examples of reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities include:
- Wheelchair ramps
- A reader for a blind employee
- A stool for an employee who cannot stand for prolonged periods
- A flexible work schedule that allows an employee to receive medical care
- An interpreter for a deaf employee
Advocating for Disabled Workers’ Rights
The United States has similar advocacy groups to Access to Work, including the international advocacy group TASH. Disabled individuals in this country also can advocate for themselves and work with employment lawyers to pursue the accommodations they need in their workplaces. In many cases, employers need to be educated about how to make their workplaces accessible. It is not always obvious how to do this efficiently and affordably.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates Advocate for All Workers
If you have faced disability discrimination in your workplace, you have the right to take a stand against the mistreatment and seek compensation for the damages related to the discrimination. To learn more, complete our online form or call 215-569-1999 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Philadelphia employment lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Our office is located in Philadelphia and we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.