What is Disability Discrimination Law?
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) protects people with disabilities from job discrimination. The variety of disability discrimination may take on many different shapes. A good example would be an employer demanding medical tests to assess fitness for the job and use the findings to filter out candidates with impairments. This kind of action is prejudiced against an individual with a disability. Workers with disabilities may sometimes find themselves at a disadvantage, whether it comes to training, promotions, or perks. This might include, for example, repeatedly harassing an employee after the person reveals they have a disability. Discrimination may occur even if the employee does not have a disability.
Employers are not allowed to take discriminatory actions against workers with disabilities under the ADA. This is relevant to companies with more than 15 workers on a federal level. Under Oregon law, businesses with six or more workers are subject to state legislation. These disability regulations ensure that individuals with physical impairments, such as those who use wheelchairs, have equal opportunities to work and be self-fulfilled. People with mental disabilities, such as depression, also benefit from these laws. Individuals having a prior record of a disability and people who are not disabled but whose employer believes they are, maybe protected under this law. People with disabilities have the same civil rights as everyone else when it comes to the application of anti-discrimination laws.
Thus, employers are legally prohibited from discriminating against workers or job applicants because of their disabilities or because of the belief that they have a disability. People with various temporary and permanent injuries, as well as with both physical and mental disabilities, may claim this benefit and act against their employers if they are discriminated against.
Disability Discrimination in Oregon
Due to the ADA, certain instances of disability discrimination in the workplace are banned. Examples include:
- Denial of employment due to disability.
- Denial of promotion because of a disability.
- Denial of an employee’s right to do their work because of their disability.
- Dismissal, demotion, or even forced resignation due to the employee’s disability.
- Refusing to accommodate the employee’s disability.
- Retaliation by the employer after receiving a request for disability accommodations.
However, in addition to this federal law, workers in a small business in Oregon with more than 6 workers are also protected under the state’s disability legislation (ORS Title 51, Chapter 659A et. seq.). The State of Oregon’s Civil Rights Division (ORCD) of the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) enforces this legislation which is also known as the Oregon Disability Discrimination Statute. ORCD’s role is comparable to that of the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which investigates workplace civil rights issues, and is also tasked with raising awareness among employees about their civil rights in the workplace. An employment law attorney in Portland can assist you to deal with disability discrimination of any kind, including private litigation, or you can also contact the ORCD or the EEOC directly.
Rights of Workers with Disabilities
All workers who have disabilities that may impact their work have the right to seek reasonable adjustments from their employer. Reasonable accommodations may include adjustments, modifications, or new duties that enable employees to more fully and equally fulfill their work requirements. Although state and federal law require that negotiations occur in good faith, accommodations must be provided for those with disabilities.
If the change or adjustment would create an “undue hardship,” the employer may deny a reasonable accommodation request. A practical application of this theory is that implementing accommodations would be financially or practically unrealistic for the business. The cost and difficulty will depend on the size and resources of the employer.
Title I of the ADA and the protected individuals under it
One of the following must apply to a person for them to be eligible to be protected under Title I of the ADA:
- Their main life activities are limited because of a physical or mental disability. These include such activities as walking, seeing, talking, hearing, learning, and working.
- They have a documented history of this condition in their medical records.
- Their employer believes that they have a disability.
- Their connection with someone who has a disability, and caused them to be discriminated against. One such example of this is when an employer fears that insurance costs will rise because of the employee’s child’s disability. They are ineligible for health insurance if their explanation for being denied is invalid.
The second point for qualification under ADA is that the employee must have the skills or qualifications required for the job that they are looking for or have. The qualifications for the position are as follows: They must have all the necessary skills, experience, and education in order to qualify. The individual must be able to execute the core work tasks (either with or without accommodation).
“Reasonable accommodation” under Disability laws includes:
- Empowering individuals with disabilities to use company facilities.
- In order to accommodate the worker, restructuring the work in such a way as to reduce the number of hours or alter the schedules, change positions, or transfer the employee.
- Equipping, altering, or replenishing machines or devices.
- Altering, adjusting, or changing curriculum, instructional materials, or administrative procedures.
- Ensuring that there are qualified readers that are provided who are competent to understand or interpret and help the worker.
If providing reasonable accommodations to a qualified individual would be an undue burden, an employer does not have to do so. Sometimes it is very difficult or costly for the accommodations to be made for the employer. To assess whether an accommodation is an unreasonable burden for their company, employers look at many factors. The usual expectation is that bigger organizations will exert more effort than smaller ones.
In order for a company to accommodate an employee, they must first be qualified. Any functional accommodation may be selected by the employer, even if it is not the one the employee wants. When the employee asks for an accommodation that is different from what they have been offered, or when their first accommodation choice is failing, the employer must keep working to accommodate the employee. Participation and proper dialogue are always required. Even if an employee believes that the employer is not acting in good faith, they must complete the procedure so as to discover whether an accommodation is possible. They may be penalized by federal law if they do not do so.
Is it okay for the employer to ask about disability when you apply for a job?
No, one cannot be asked about your disability prior to being offered a position. The procedure does not need the employee to indicate whether they will need any adjustments. The employee may be asked whether they are able to do certain work tasks, but they cannot be asked questions that are specifically intended to probe into their disability.
It is also illegal for employers to have their prospective employees undergo a medical test before giving them a job. After making a job offer, though, they may insist on one. After first giving the employee a job, they may ask them questions relating to their disability as long as they ask everyone else the same questions who are applying for comparable positions. After discovering the employee’s disability, if the employer rescinds the job offer, then the employer must demonstrate that their decision to rescind the employment offer was based on a legitimate business need.
There is one exception to the rule of inquiring about a disability: if the employee voluntarily discloses their disability. To comply with an affirmative action program, some companies ask candidates to self-identify as having a disability.
Disability Discrimination Attorneys in Portland, Oregon
Meyer Stephenson represents employees in disability discrimination cases throughout the state.
Attorneys from Meyer Stephenson are experienced in a wide variety of disability discrimination claims. In Oregon, it is illegal to fire an employee due to their disability. It is essential that you consult an attorney with expertise in this area to help you.
Our attorneys have substantial experience representing employees in Oregon disability discrimination claims.
Have you experienced disability discrimination in the workplace? Do you have questions about disability discrimination? Allow an Oregon disability discrimination attorney to help. Contact us at Meyer Stephenson.
Disability Discrimination Attorney Portland Oregon, Christina Stephenson
Portland Disability Discrimination Attorney, Robert Meyer
Disability Discrimination Lawyer in Portland Or, Talia Guerriero
Portland Oregon Disability Discrimination Attorney, Michael Owens
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