Everyone is created differently. You can’t help it if you get sick or injured and need to a little help from your employer to keep doing what you do. Your illness can be something as common as asthma or diabetes, which might require minor modifications to your job duties, or your situation could be as complex as developing a major disability that requires a complete modification of your responsibilities. If you have been fired, let go, laid-off or forced to quit and believe that it was because your employer discriminated against your disability, call us. Our firm represents many clients who have been discriminated against, harassed, and retaliated against by their employer for something out of their control. Read more below* to help determine if you are being discriminated against or call us today for a free consultation.
*This is not a list of requirements for a disability case, but examples of situations that may apply to you.What is Considered a Disability?
Disabilities can be any physical or mental illness that can potentially hinder your work performance. It can be chronic or temporary. It can be visible, such as using crutches or wearing a hearing aid, or it can be invisible, such as stress or depression. Employers cannot ask you personal questions about what your disability is but they do have to be aware of the existence of a disability if you believe that they are treating you differently because of it.Work Restrictions / Medical Leave
Many times a doctor will release you back to work with physical limitations. Depending on the injury or sickness, they will tell you that you can’t lift a certain amount of weight, limit the use of a certain body part, or work reduced hours. Keep in mind that if your doctor tells you to stay home for a few days or to take a leave of absence, it is considered a work restriction also.Good Faith Interactive Process
If your doctor gives you limitations, let your employer know. Your employer has a duty to engage in a good faith interactive process with you and ask you what needs to be done in order for you to recover and return to work. During that discussion, you or the company may suggest reassignment to a different position or location, purchasing equipment, or changing a few job duties. The purpose of this meeting is to agree about what your new situation will be in your best interest and the company’s. But remember that communication is a two-way street. Your employer needs to know what you can and can’t do in order to make the changes they need to make so that you can return to work. If they are not starting that conversation with you, take initiative and ask to speak to someone about it.Reasonable Accommodation
Your employer has a responsibility to provide reasonable accommodation for your disability and work restrictions. This means they have to consider all options to return you back to work and follow through after the interactive process. The accommodation should fully comply with your work restrictions.Harassment due to Your Disability
Your employer might treat you worse because of your illness or disability; that is considered harassment. Harassment can be verbal, physical or visual. Verbal harassment can include obscene language, demeaning comments, slurs, or even threats. It does not have to be oral to be considered verbal; text messages, postings, letters, or emails containing inappropriate language count as verbal abuse. Physical harassment is any unwanted touching or interference with your normal workspace or movement, such as having essential job equipment missing or being denied access to your workstation. Visual harassment includes offensive posters, drawings, images, or objects being purposefully displayed. These are just a few examples but being subjected to any conduct that is unwanted and derogatory is not acceptable.Retaliation
Retaliation means that your employer “punished” you because you for exercised your rights. In this case, could it be because you asked for an interactive process, asked for reasonable accommodation, took a medical leave due to your disability, or just because you complained about being discriminated against, harassed or retaliated against because of your disability. Retaliatory actions can include increased harassment, a demotion, a pay cut, reduced work hours (that you didn’t ask for), or termination.What Next?
If any of the above has happened to you, there is a possibility that you have been discriminated against. Not everything listed above.