The workplace is the most common of places where discrimination can occur. There are a lot of reasons why a person may be discriminated upon; one of them is due to disability. Disability discrimination in the workplace happens when a person is treated indifferently or is isolated away from others because of his condition. Even mere applicants may experience this.
Under the law, not everyone with a disability is protected. There are some qualifications that he must first meet.
- The physical or mental disability substantially limits a major life activity or bodily function like walking, hearing, seeing etc.
- The person has a history of disability.
- The disability is not transitory or minor.
Prior to Employment
During a job application, an employer is not allowed to ask things regarding his disability to the applicant. Asking things like "Are you disabled?" or "Will you require accommodation for the job?" are prohibited. Instead, he should say the tasks needed to perform and ask the applicant if he can do it with or without help. He may also ask the applicant how he can complete a task despite his physical limitations. Making an applicant take a medical exam before making a job offer is also not allowed.
After Job Offer
The employer is legally allowed to extend the job offer offered to an applicant by answering certain medical questions or passing a medical examination. However, all new employees in the same type of job also have to undergo the same thing.
Once hired, employers can only ask medical questions or require medical examination if he needs medical documentation for a disabled employee's request for accommodation or job assistance, or if the employer thinks that the condition hinders the employee's ability to perform his job successfully or safely. Such documents and records must be kept confidential under the law.
The law also forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment like hiring, training, pay, job assignments, promotions, firing, layoff, fringe benefits, and any other terms of employment.
Discrimination and Harassment
Discrimination and harassment may happen in form of verbal abuse towards the disabled, like making offensive remarks about the disability or calling him inappropriate names frequently. Severe cases of harassment create a hostile work environment or lead to adverse employment decisions for the disabled. The harasser may be a manager, supervisor, and co-worker, or even those who are not employees, like the clients.
This article is not meant to be interpreted as a legal advice. To know the available legal options regarding your case, consult a Los Angeles Employment Attorney for more information.