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It is it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability in job application procedures; the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees; employee compensation; job training; or other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
Qualified Individual With a Disability
For the employee to be eligible to make a claim of disability discrimination he must be a “qualified individual with a disability.” This means that he must be physically able to do the job functions required. (Sometimes, a “reasonable accommodation” would be required. See below).
“With a disability” means that the worker is actually disabled. For an injury, disease, or their ailment to be a “disability” under the law, it must “substantially limit one or more major life activities.” A mere annoyance is not enough. The disability must actually interfere with a person’s life.
In determining whether or not a person actually has a disability, the Courts pay close attention to whether or not the ailment affects the person’s job and ability to earn a living. So, even if the disability doesn’t affect most areas of life, if it affects the person’s employment, it is more likely to be considered a disability.
It is also unlawful to discriminate against a person who is perceived to have a disability. If the employee is not disabled, but the employer believes he is, and discriminated against him, that is also illegal.
In this circumstance, it is not necessary to determine if the employee is a “qualified individual” with a disability. However, the Court may consider whether or not the person would have been a qualified individual if he actually had the disability that the employer perceived him to have.
Reasonable Accommodation for an Employee With a Disability
Reasonable Accommodation is the idea that even if a person is disabled and even if that disability may make it appear like he or she can’t do a job, the employer must consider whether or not a “reasonable accommodation” can be made to assist the employee to be able to do his or her job. A “reasonable accommodation” is when the employer modifies the job duties, provides some extra help, or takes some other measure to ensure that the person can still be able to do the job.
If the employer could make a “reasonable accommodation”, but refuses or fails to do so, then the employer may have a cause of action against the employer.
Employees have to ask for reasonable accommodations. Once they do, the employer has the right to consider the requests, and make counter-offers that the employer might see as more reasonable. If the employer and employee can’t agree, then the employee might want to consider bringing suit. However, to win, the judge or jury will have to find that the employee’s request was reasonable, or that the employer’s counter-offers were not sufficient.