Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

If you or a loved one have suffered from disability discrimination at your place of employment, you are not alone and there is help available.  As an employee in the state of Oklahoma, you are most likely protected by federal and state regulations set forth by the ADA.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, outlaws employers from discriminating against employees (or applicants) with disabilities in all aspects of employment.  This includes hiring, wages, dismissal, promotions, fringe benefits and more. Additionally, the ADA protects employees from retaliation when they enforce their rights under the law.  The Americans with Disabilities Act “makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability. The ADA also prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in State and local government services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications”, according to the EEOC.

Is my employer required to adhere to ADA guidelines?

The ADA provides protections for workers of private businesses who employ 15 people or more, including state or local governments.  These laws also apply to employment agencies as well as labor organizations.

Additionally, there are many state and local laws which may provide certain protections for employees of smaller businesses. 

Do I qualify for ADA protections?

The EEOC states that if you have a disability and are qualified to do a job, the ADA protects you from employment discrimination on the basis of your disability.  To be protected under the ADA, you must have, have a record of, or be regarded as having a substantial impairment (as opposed to a minor one).  The ADA maintains that you have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA also protects you if you have a history of such a disability, or if an employer believes that you have such a disability, even if you don't.

A substantial impairment is one that restricts or significantly limits a major life activity, such as (but not limited to) breathing, hearing, caring for oneself, learning or working, seeing, etc.  However, an employee must still be able to perform essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodation.  You must meet the employer’s requirements for the position as well, whether it be college degrees, licenses, specific job skills or employment experience, etc.

What are reasonable accommodations?

“Reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.” This may include reassignment to a vacant position, modifying work schedules or equipment, job restructuring and much more.
To read more about your rights as an employee under the ADA, click here for more comprehensive details from the EEOC: https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/ada18.html

Find basic answers to common questions about the ADA here: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/adaqa1.cfm

Please visit https://www.ada.gov/ to access to technical assistance materials, updates on new regulations and much more directly from the Americans with Disabilities Act website.

What should I do next?

If you have been the target of illegal, discriminatory work practices based on your disability, there are several things you need to do right away.  First, you need to keep a journal of up-to-date notes of everything that happens.  Documentation is key and it’s nearly impossible to rely solely on your memory.  Once you have escalated the problems to the proper chain 0f command, however, if no measures are taken to improve and rectify the situation, you may need to reach out for help from a more professional structure.

Retaining the counsel of a legal team well-versed in employment discrimination law can safeguard you against many of the challenges regularly faced in these cases.  The window to file a formal complaint on the grounds of an ADA violation is limited and very specific, so time is of the essence.  At Adams Law Office, we will listen to your personal situation and help you form a plan to move forward from the perspective of a legal entity that understands how our court systems work and how to help you get the justice you deserve.  We will passionately work with you to ensure that your rights as well as your livelihood are protected, and to hold those at fault accountable.  Call us today at 918-587-8700 to schedule a free consultation.