Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to treat disabled employees and job applicants the same as it does other employees. Disability discrimination occurs where an employer treats a disabled employee unfavorably because of their present or past disability or when an employer treats an employee unfavorably because a close relative of theirs has a known disability.
The law also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, but too often employers would rather move the goal posts on disabled employees than provide these required adjustments. Many times we see employers create new job descriptions when an employee requests an accommodation in an effort to paper the file with reasons they can’t work with someone. Other times, the employer simply rejects requested accommodations without suggesting new alternatives that might work. Both of these common practices are illegal.
Most of the time small adjustments can be made to jobs that will allow an employee with a disability to be a thriving and productive member of an employer’s organization. The law requires both the employee and the employer to work cooperatively and reasonably in an interactive process to come up with and implement reasonable accommodations that will work in real life. When this does not happen, the employer often claims that the employee cannot do his or her job and fires the employee.
Many times an employee’s own doctor ends up getting them fired by insisting on accommodations the law may not require. For this reason, it is important to discuss your accommodation needs with an experienced employment attorney before having your doctor fill out your company’s forms. Your doctor may be more flexible in the accommodations she believes are absolutely necessary if she knows ahead of time what it will take to keep your job.
For more information about disability discrimination in the workplace contact the employment law attorneys at Herrmann & Murphy.
Do I Have a Case?
If you believe you are the victim of disability discrimination or if you are considering requesting an accommodation, you should reach out for a legal consultation today.
Employees Must File Claims Within 180 Days
Employees must bring these claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discriminatory act. Unfortunately, the EEOC is far more likely to harm your case than to help your cause. Therefore, we strongly recommend you reach out for a consult before going to the EEOC if you believe you have been the victim of unlawful employment discrimination or retaliation. No matter what, though, you must comply with the 180-day deadline. Therefore, you should file with the EEOC immediately if it has been five months since the adverse employment action occurred.
North Carolina’s Equal Employment Practices Act provides the same protection from discrimination. However, the law does not provide for the defendant to pay your attorneys’ fees the way that the federal law does. Nor does the state law prohibit retaliation.
North Carolina’s Persons with Disabilities Protection Act does prohibit retaliation in addition to discrimination. However, this law requires employees to file an actual lawsuit in Court within 180 days of adverse action.
South Carolina’s Human Affairs Law provides protection more similar to the federal law and provides employees a longer period of time to file their discrimination claim (up to 300 days).