What Rights Do Disabled Workers Have?

Written by Sattiraju Law Firm on October 17, 2019

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 19% of those with a disability are employed, either full-time or part-time. Disabilities can take many forms, such as physical or mental; but all disabled workers are protected under federal and New Jersey Law.

If you believe you have suffered workplace discrimination because of your disability, please contact a New Jersey discrimination attorney for help with your case.

Anti-Discrimination in Employment & Hiring

It is illegal for an employer to treat a qualified individual less favorably than another employee or applicant because of a disability. Federal protections apply to employers with 15 or more employees.

There are many situations in which disability discrimination can occur:

  • Hiring
  • Layoff
  • Termination
  • Promotion
  • Pay and benefits
  • Training opportunities
  • Job opportunities
  • Any other condition of employment

For example, if you are laid off because of your disability, you probably have a claim for compensation.

Workplace Harassment

Harassment is a special category of workplace discrimination. Under federal law, it is illegal to harass an employee or applicant because of a current or past disability. Harassment can take many forms, such as offensive remarks or slurs about a person. It can also include offensive gestures, nicknames, and even offensive imagery.

The key is whether the conduct is so frequent or severe that the workplace becomes hostile or offensive. Under this standard, a stray comment or simple teasing probably does not qualify. But repeated conduct very well could.

The person who is harassing the worker can be a boss, member of management, colleague, or even a non-employee, like a vendor, client, or customer. The person harassing you could even be disabled themselves.

Reasonable Accommodations

Disabled workers sometimes need adjustments to a job so that they can perform it, and federal law requires that employers honor reasonable accommodations. The word “reasonable” is key. An employer does not have to honor every request to change a job so that it is more convenient. If the accommodation is too difficult or expensive, then it is an undue hardship and an employer can decline the request.

What qualifies as an “undue hardship” is decided on a case by case basis. The fact that an accommodation costs some money is not a sufficient ground for denial. However, some accommodations might cost too much for an employer, depending on various factors, like the employer’s size. If your accommodation has been denied, you should meet with an attorney to review.

Understanding Your Rights

There are important limitations on federal law. For one, it only applies if an employer has 15 or more employees, so employees of very small businesses will not be protected.

New Jerseys’ Law Against Discrimination, however, can step in and protect other employees. This state law prohibits disability discrimination in employment and covers employers of any size, so employees at smaller businesses should have equivalent rights to those working at larger companies.

Contact Us About a Disabled Worker Lawsuit in New Jersey

The Sattiraju Law Firm is a leading New Jersey firm focusing on workers’ rights. We have handled many disability discrimination cases and would be pleased to explain the legal remedies available to you. Please contact us to schedule an initial consultation.

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