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What Is the Americans With Disabilities Act?

December 20th, 2023
disability at work

Protected disabilities are physical or mental impairments that notably limit major life activities. Understanding these disabilities is crucial for both employers and employees.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal law, protects individuals with such disabilities. This law impacts both employers and employees in significant ways. The ADA mandates employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations encompass a variety of modifications or adjustments in the work environment or how work is usually done. They aim to enable an individual with a disability to have equal employment opportunities.

These accommodations can take numerous forms, including but not limited to making existing facilities accessible, job restructuring, providing additional leave, modifying work schedules, or acquiring or modifying equipment. While the ADA requires the provision of reasonable accommodations, it is crucial to note that what is “reasonable” depends on the unique circumstances of each case and the employer’s capacity to accommodate without causing undue hardship.

For employees, the ADA ensures their right to equal opportunities in the workplace, regardless of their disability.

What Are Examples of Disability Discrimination?

To further illustrate what disability discrimination looks like, let’s explore examples:

  • Refusal to make reasonable accommodations: If an employer refuses to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment, allowing a disabled employee to perform their job, it constitutes discrimination. For example, an employer refuses to provide a sign language interpreter for a deaf employee during meetings.
  • Termination due to disability: Terminating an employee solely because of their disability is discrimination. For instance, if an employer fires a worker after learning they have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, that would be considered discriminatory.
  • Discrimination in the hiring process: If a candidate is not hired because of their disability, despite being qualified for the job, it is a form of discrimination. An example might be an employer not hiring a candidate because they use a wheelchair, even though the job is a desk job.
  • Unequal pay and benefits: Paying a disabled worker less than other workers who do the same job or denying them access to benefits because of their disability is also discriminatory.
  • Harassment based on disability: If an employee with a disability is subjected to offensive comments or unwanted behavior because of their disability, it constitutes harassment. For example, if co-workers make fun of an employee’s speech impediment.

Legal Rights of Workers With Disabilities

Workers with disabilities have several legal rights under the ADA:

  • The right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
  • Protection from discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, and benefits.
  • The right to file a complaint if they believe they have been discriminated against.

If you believe you have been a victim of disability discrimination, you should know that help is available. You can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces ADA laws.

Our Philadelphia Disability Discrimination Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Can Help You Understand Your Rights Under the ADA

If your employer has violated your workplace ADA rights, speak with our Philadelphia disability discrimination lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Call us at 215-569-1999 or complete our online form to schedule 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, Montgomery County, and Cherry Hill.

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