The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been an essential piece of civil rights legislation since it was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The American with Disabilities Act helps prevent discrimination on the basis of one or more disabilities. What does this mean for people who have disabilities?
This means that anyone who has a disability can be accommodated, and they will have protection from any actions or practices that are discriminatory. It does not matter if they are searching for employment or if they are currently employed, he or she will have protection because of the ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act also prohibits harassment by an employer or other employees.
This year is going to mark the 30th anniversary of President George H.W. Bush signing the Act into law. Since the Act was put into action in 1990, this legislation has given people with disabilities more access and opportunities in the workforce.
WHAT IS DEFINED AS A DISABILITY?
The Americans with Disabilities Act clearly defines what is considered a disability. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC), there are various conditions that will need to be met in order to be considered disabled. Some conditions that will need to be met are as follows:
- A person with a disability is someone who has a physical impairment or a mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, talking, hearing, or vision.
- A person who has a record of an impairment, even if a current disability does not exist.
- A person has a disability that is not permanent and does not have a major impact on one’s daily activities.
MAKING REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS IN THE WORKPLACE
When we talk about reasonable accommodations and adjustments being made in the workplace, what do we generally talk about? When mentioning accommodations, we talk about employers providing the things and services an employee needs to successfully perform their assigned daily activities.
An employer can provide office equipment that a disabled employee will need, in addition to needed breaks. However, it is important to know that an employer does not have to provide equipment and services that will result in the spending of an excessive amount of money. If an employee uses a wheelchair and needs office equipment that supports the use of a wheelchair, is that considered reasonable accommodation? Yes.
DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE
Disability discrimination in the workplace can occur in a variety of ways. When an employer refuses to hire a qualified individual on the basis of one or more disabilities, this is recognized as discrimination. If someone with a disability is hired but is treated unfairly, this is discrimination.
Discrimination in the workplace can include anything from unfair pay to jokes being made by other employees. The ADA offers a variety of protections for any type of discrimination that can take place in the workplace or during the hiring phase.
The ADA is used to ensure that employees who have disabilities will receive the same fair wage as the other employees who do not have disabilities. If employees are performing the same type of work on a daily basis, employees should receive the same wages.
If Jessie and Lee perform the same type of work assignments on a daily basis, but the employer pays Jessie less than Lee because of a disability, this is discrimination. Also, if Jessie has been subjected to harassment due to his disability, this should be seen as unacceptable by everyone in the workplace. All employees have civil rights, and harassment of any kind should not be allowed.
WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE IS WRONGFULLY TERMINATED?
If an employer fires an employee or lays an employee off for any reason that is not related to the performance he or she is doing in the workplace, this can be considered wrongful termination. If an employee is asked not to return to the job and suspects that it is because of the disability, this is considered disability discrimination.
If anyone believes he or she has been discriminated against because of an acknowledged or suspected disability, he or she should immediately make a report. If one makes a report but no actions are taken to address the problems, a complaint can be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
HOW CAN I PROVE DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION?
Employers are given a great amount of discretion over the firing or hiring of job candidates. However, this does not give anyone the freedom to discriminate against someone or allow them to be treated unfairly. In order to file a discrimination claim, one will need to prove that he or she was untreated fairly because of a disability.
While you may not be able to prove disability discrimination on your own, this does not mean you will be unable to prove it. An experienced law team that specializes in workplace discrimination will be able to assess your situation and use all the evidence you have to prove discrimination has taken place.
THE FIGHT CONTINUES
People with disabilities have faced barriers to equal participation in society for a long time. For the past 30 years, laws and acts have been put into place to protect the rights of people who have a disability. This is why the Americans with Disabilities Act continues the fight.
The ADA continues to be a big deal deserving as much celebration and recognition as possible. However, even with the Act in place, many people are still being discriminated against because of a disability.
This year and beyond, we will still notice barriers to equal opportunity will still be there. We are committed to doing our part in fulfilling the mission of the ADA. The 30th year ADA anniversary should be celebrated in order to bring awareness to the hard work that has been completed, and the hard work that still needs to be done.
For more information about defeating discrimination in the workplace or more information about the ADA, please do not hesitate to contact Villaume & Schiek. Our team is here to help you. You can contact us by phone at (952) 851-9500.
Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individualsituation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.