Denying basic accommodations is a common type of discrimination

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination

Those with debilitating medical conditions ranging from acquired illnesses to birth injuries often require some degree of support to engage in the same activities as those with no medical challenges. Historically, having functional limitations has meant that individuals may struggle to secure gainful employment and live an independent lifestyle.

There are multiple federal statutes that have sought to address the discrimination that those with disabling medical conditions often face in different areas of their lives, including employment. One of the most common and insidious forms of disability discrimination occurs when an employer refuses simple and reasonable accommodations that would let someone take a job or keep a job despite their medical challenges.

Accommodations are different for everyone

The law provides very vague guidance on how employers should support workers with disabling medical conditions. Specifically, the accepted standard is that employers should offer reasonable accommodations that allow someone to continue working or accept a position with the company. Reasonable accommodations could range from letting someone sit while they work as a cashier to allowing someone to work from home. Assistive technology, accessibility changes to business spaces and alternate job responsibilities are all examples of accommodations that could help someone accept a job and perform it well.

Employers will often try to claim that accommodation requests are unreasonable and will create a damaging burden for the business. In theory, if human resources or management professionals can establish that the request would cause undue hardship for the business by interfering in its operations or costing a prohibitive amount of money, they could justify the decision to deny accommodations. However, the size of the business, the scope of its operations and the nature of the accommodations will all influence whether it is actually unreasonable for the worker to request certain forms of support from the business.

Disability discrimination demands action

If a worker forced out of their job or denied an opportunity because of a health issue outside of their control simply walks away, the company involved will likely only persist in its mistreatment of workers with disabling medical conditions.

By filing a disability discrimination claim, a worker impacted by an employer’s refusal to accommodate their needs can both potentially protect their job and pave the way for others to receive better treatment at the same company in the future. Documenting, reporting and even litigating disability discrimination can benefit the affected individual and countless others who must cope with the same employment conduct when seeking new jobs or advancement opportunities.

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