Disability Rights

Disability discrimination is when an employer makes an unjust employment decision or treats an employee or applicant unfairly based on their disability or past disability. Covered disabilities can include even temporary conditions like depression, PTSD or generalized anxiety disorder. Under the law, employers are in many instances required to provide reasonable accommodations to covered employees, which may include changes to the work environment necessary for the employee to perform his or her job. For example, if someone suffers from anxiety the employer may be required to provide a quiet work environment.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your disability, past disability or relationship with someone who has a disability, we can help. Spiggle Law is one of the largest firms in Virginia that focuses solely on employment law for employees. We have extensive experience and highly educated and knowledgeable lawyers who will work with you to protect your rights and stand up against illegal and discriminatory workplace practices.

Three Things You Can Do Right Now.
  1. If you suspect discrimination, report it to human resources in writing and contact an attorney.
  2. If you find yourself holding a pink slip, call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And, as always, call a lawyer.
  3. You must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the alleged act of disability discrimination.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does “reasonable accommodation” mean?

A “reasonable accommodation” is the change a disabled person needs to enable him or her to perform the essential functions of a job. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include time off to recover from an injury, a temporary limitation on the amount of weight a person must lift, or a change in work schedule to allow an employee to attend regular medical appointments. An employer is required to offer a qualified disabled employee a reasonable accommodation unless it would pose an “undue hardship” for the employer. An undue hardship is an action that requires “significant difficulty or expense,” when viewed in light of the cost of the accommodation in relation to the employer’s size, resources, structure, and nature.

What is “association discrimination” under the ADA?

Under the ADA, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because it believes that the employee’s relationship to a person with a disability would affect his or her job performance. That means an employer cannot discriminate against an employee whose spouse becomes disabled because it believes taking care of the disabled spouse will require an inordinate amount of leave time.

I have an obvious disability, and I just had a job interview. During the interview, the employer asked me to take a medical examination and said if I passed, I would get the job offer. Is this proper?

Employers cannot make any inquiries about a disability before employment begins except in limited circumstances. If the employer asks all employees in the same job category to undergo a physical examination, and if the exam is job-related and consistent with business necessity, then it is acceptable. Otherwise, the employer can only ask questions limited to whether you can perform the specific functions of the job you applied for and can ask you to explain or demonstrate how you might perform those functions.

I had an accident on the job, and now my employer wants me to undergo a medical examination. Can I object?

The law permits employers to require medical examinations if there is evidence that the accident was related to job performance or to a safety problem.

I am an alcoholic. Am I considered legally disabled?

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) considers alcoholism a disability. However, alcoholism does not excuse noncompliance with workplace policies. Therefore, if alcohol abuse leads an employee to fail to meet workplace standards of performance or behavior rules, the employer can discipline or fire that employee. Note that employees who are addicted to illegal drugs are not protected by the ADA and are not considered disabled.

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