Google Screened

Are You in the Healthcare Field?

Find Out How We Can Help »
[et_social_follow icon_style="slide" icon_shape="rectangle" icons_location="top" col_number="1" outer_color="dark"]
Millions Recovered For Our Clients No Fees Unless We Win

Strategies for Reducing Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

July 11th, 2023
disability discrimination

Disability discrimination in the workplace can have devastating impacts on disabled employees and creates a hostile work environment that can affect all employees.  

By law, employers cannot discriminate against qualified disabled job candidates or employees in all phases of employment, including recruitment, interviewing, hiring, training, job duties, salary, benefits, promotion, and firing. Despite this, over 25,000 disability discrimination complaints are filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year in the United States.

What Protections Do Workers Have From Disability Discrimination?

Disabled individuals are protected under Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits private employers with 15 or more employees and all government employers from discriminating against qualified job applicants or employees with disabilities.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) enhances the protections of the ADA by requiring all private employers with four or more employees to follow all discrimination laws and regulations. In certain cities and towns, including Philadelphia, employers must follow additional local discrimination laws.

The ADA defines a disability as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or bodily functions, including:

  • Breathing, eating, or sleeping
  • Caring for oneself
  • Cell growth
  • Concentration, focus, or learning capacity
  • Digestive, bowel, and bladder function
  • Immune system functions
  • Neurological functions
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Reproductive and endocrine functions
  • Respiratory and circulatory functions
  • Seeing, hearing, or speaking
  • Walking, standing, sitting, or bending

What Are Common Types of Disability Discrimination at Work?

Disability discrimination can occur in several ways to job candidates and workers alike. Common types of disability discrimination include:

  • Direct discrimination: Direct discrimination occurs person-to-person, typically a supervisor or employer, treating an employee differently based on their disability, such as refusing to promote a qualified disabled employee.
  • Indirect discrimination: This refers to company policies and practices that disadvantage disabled employees.
  • Harassment: Harassment of a disabled employee includes taunting, ridiculing, demeaning, name-calling, belittling, humiliating, bullying, and more, which creates a hostile work environment. Harassment can be perpetrated by owners, managers, coworkers, clients, customers, and others with work-related access to employees.
  • Reasonable accommodation failure: One fairly common form of discrimination is the failure to provide reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee to complete their assigned tasks, such as providing a special desk or installing a wheelchair ramp.

What Are Reasonable Accommodations?

Reasonable accommodations are defined as alterations to an individual’s work environment or schedule that allows 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 unreasonable 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.

Though employers are required to make reasonable accommodations, there are limitations as to what is required. Accommodations that pose an undue financial burden, significantly disrupt production, or are a safety hazard to others, are not generally legally required.

How Can Employers Reduce Disability Discrimination in the Workplace?

Disability discrimination is illegal, and employers should take steps to ensure discrimination does not occur in the workplace, with the goal of a zero-tolerance culture. There are many steps employers can take to ensure this, such as:

  • Employ disabled people: Employing a diverse staff helps to ensure that discrimination is less likely to occur. Employing disabled persons benefits employers by:
    • A larger pool of talented job candidates.
    • Having a workforce better reflects customers and the wider community.
    • Introducing new skills to the workforce.
    • Improve staff morale by treating everyone fairly.
    • Demonstrating a commitment to equality for customers, clients, and other employers.
  • Encourage inclusivity: Fostering an inclusive work environment is crucial in preventing disability discrimination among staff. To accomplish this, employers can:
    • Increase the number of disabled staff to ensure a fairer workplace.
    • Make the workplace more accessible.
    • Provide information to applicants, employees, and customers in accessible and easily understood formats.
  • Discuss language: Educate staff about appropriate language when discussing disability and what language is inappropriate, offensive, or negative towards disabled employees.
  • Establish policies: Develop company policies and practices regarding disability discrimination, including a full and fair procedure for handling discrimination complaints.
  • Train senior staff: In addition to full workplace training, provide senior staff training and the tools to identify, understand, and address disability discrimination, such as:
    • How to support disabled employees.
    • How to handle unacceptable and discriminatory behavior.
    • How to properly handle disability discrimination complaints.
    • How to provide regular equality and diversity training among their staff.
  • Evaluate: Regularly evaluate and measure organizational change, including reviewing policies and procedures for preventing disability discrimination.

What Should I Do if I am Experiencing Disability Discrimination at Work?

You must first report the incident to your supervisor or HR. Keep records of all communication regarding your discrimination complaint. If you do not receive a response to your complaints and have exhausted all work-required options, seek an experienced lawyer.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Advocate for Clients Experiencing Disability Discrimination

If you are experiencing disability discrimination at work, our experienced Philadelphia employment lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. can help. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, and Montgomery County.

View All Practices
2019 American Trail Lawyers badge
Lead Counsel Rated
life time achievement
million dollar advocates badge
AV Peer Review Rated
Philly Happening
Top one badge
Silver Client Champion Award 2020
super lawyers badge

As Seen On

avvo Martindale Justia FindLaw
© 2024 The Gold Law Firm P.C. All rights reserved. [ Site Map | Privacy Policy ]

Attorney Advertising Materials. Sidney L. Gold is responsible for the content of this website. This website is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Website Accessibility: The Gold Law Firm P.C. is committed to ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilities. We are continually working to improve the accessibility of all content on our website and applying the relevant accessibility standards.

* The awards and accolades displayed on this website were issued to the attorneys, or the entire law firm by the respective providers of these honors. They are as follows, Avvo Inc., Super Lawyers®, Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Rated, ASLA Top 100 Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Legal Leaders Top Rated Lawyers, Bar Register Preeminent Lawyer, Happening List Winner, BBB Accredited Business, National Association of Distinguished Counsel Top 1 Percent, America's Top 100 Attorneys, The Employee Rights Advocacy Institute for law and policy, Best Lawyers, Lead Counsel Rated, Top Employment Lawyers in Philadelphia, Association of American Trial Lawyers Top 100 and Martindale Hubbell Client Champion Silver. No aspect of these advertisements have been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.