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What is disability discrimination?

Workers in New York may benefit from learning more about what disability discrimination is and the remedies available to people who are victimized by it. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, disability discrimination occurs when an employer covered under the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act treats an applicant or employee unfavorably due to a perceived disability. In addition, the discrimination may be prohibited if it focuses on the victim's prior history.

In addition, by law, the employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations to people suffering from a disability. However, employers are not required to do so if the accommodations lead to a significant expense or undue hardship that would interfere with the conduct of business. Workers who have a relationship with a disabled person are also protected from employer discrimination. The law also prohibits employers from discrimination in regards to training, hiring, assigning work, fringe benefits, promotions, termination or fostering conditional employment.

Harassing a worker or applicant because of a disability is illegal. The EEOC considers harassment to include offensive remarks about the disability, any behavior that creates a hostile work environment for the complainant or any adverse employment action taken against the employee because of the disability. To be protected by these laws, the complainant must qualify for the position and have a disability that satisfies the legal definition.

People who suffer disability discrimination in the workplace or during the application process may benefit from contacting legal counsel. An employment law attorney may be able to investigate the incident and help determine what remedies may be available.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Disability Discrimination", October 20, 2014

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