How to Handle Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

Nov 29, 2017
By Peter Friedmann

Employers that discriminate against people with physical or mental disabilities break the law. Holding them accountable yields benefits for the individuals subjected to unfair and harmful treatment.

Unfortunately, identifying and stopping disability discrimination in the workplace can be difficult. Anyone in central Ohio who experiences or witnesses discriminatory behavior based on physical or mental capabilities should seek advice from a Columbus disability discrimination lawyer. Failing to follow the proper procedures for documenting, reporting, and seeking remedies for discrimination can result in no corrective action being taken.


Know the Law on Disability Discrimination

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers, supervisors, managers, and co-workers to treat all employees and job applicants who have disabilities fairly and respectfully. The law covers many aspects of seeking and holding a job, so the Columbus, Ohio-based disability discrimination attorneys with The Friedmann Firm have posted this list of frequently asked questions regarding the ADA. Topics addressed include

  • Protections offered by the ADA, especially regarding reasonable accommodations;
  • Knowing whether you are protected by the ADA as a “qualified individual”;
  • The definition of disability discrimination;
  • The definition of disability under the ADA;
  • The definition of and examples of reasonable accommodations;
  • Whether an employer can require medical exams for job seekers and employees; and
  • Whether managers and supervisors can ask questions about a suspected disability or known disability.


Recognizing Discriminatory Behavior

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the ADA. On its website, the commission makes it clear that the law prohibits unfair or unequal treatment when it comes to “hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.” The ADA also makes it illegal for any person in a workplace to harass or bully someone who is disabled.

Perhaps the most-important employment protection the ADA provides is the one that requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers’ disabilities. When an accommodation is refused for a discriminatory reason and the employer cannot show that granting the accommodation would cause an “undue burden,” the employer may be violating the law.


How To Request A Reasonable Accommodation

An employee is typically responsible for asking for a reasonable accommodation for a disability.  Because of this, speaking with a caring Columbus discrimination lawyer can be a valuable first step. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to offer an opinion on what steps to take.


Generally, the process of requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability is as follows:

  1. Speak with your manager or supervisor about the need for a reasonable accommodation. Ask he or she what you need to provide to request a reasonable accommodation.  If this conversation is in-person, ALWAYS follow it with an email and keep a copy of that email.
  2. If you don’t receive an adequate response, contact Human Resources. Alternatively, you can go to Human Resources as your first step.
  3. After you have a conversation about what you need to provide to request a reasonable accommodation, be sure to provide medical documentation from your doctor to prove that you actually need a reasonable accommodation. If possible, have your doctor review your job description and explain why you need a reasonable accommodation.
  4. A conversation between you and the employer will likely take place, in which you will be told whether or not your reasonable accommodation can be provided. If the employer says it cannot provide it, it must prove that doing so would be an “undue burden.”  This typically means too expensive, time consuming or a waste of resources.
  5. Lastly, consulting with a Columbus disability attorney throughout this process is vital to ensuring you ask for a reasonable accommodation in the right way. We can also provide advice as to whether a reasonable accommodation is truly an “undue burden” on an employer.

The Columbus, Ohio, disability discrimination attorneys with The Friedmann Firm offer free and confidential consultations. Call us at 614.610.9755 or request an appointment online.