Sometimes when I’m running errands or shopping, I’ll notice that an employee has a disability of some sort. I have always thought it was cool that stores are making efforts to empower and normalize those with disabilities. I recently learned, however, that’s it’s illegal to use a person’s disability against them when making a hiring decision.
The Americans with Disabilities Act outlines that employers must not take disabilities into account when making a hiring decision. Every state may have their own laws regarding these policies, but the ADA is a standard that all state laws must hold to. I wanted to learn more about the ADA so I went searching online for more information. I found a great post from The Melton Law Firm. The attorneys at that firm work in disability discrimination. That means that they represent and help those who have been discriminated by employers for their disabilities.
It turns out, people with disabilities have many protections under the ADA. For example, if an employer is found to have discriminated against you, you can pursue restitution for your lost wages and benefits, pain and suffering, pay until you find a new job, and punitive damages in harsh cases. It’s great that the law helps those who have been discriminated against stay afloat financially while they recover from a horrible situation.
I have to mention, employers can choose not to hire a person if their disability prevents them from performing the main tasks of the job. For instance, an employer can choose not to hire someone who is unable to walk or stand if the job requires that the employee stands throughout their shift. Employers cannot, however, choose not to hire a person if their disability prevents them from doing side tasks that are unrelated to the main job. Let’s say that a person with disabilities is hired as a bank teller. They are able to do all the main jobs of a bank teller, but they are physically disabled and cannot perform heavy lifting. An employer may not fire the worker for being unable to do a side task that requires heavy lifting because the main function of a bank teller never requires heavy lifting.
If people with disabilities need accommodations, the employer must provide them as long as they do not cause “undue stress” on the employer. For example, someone with a physical disability may need a couple minutes of extra break time during a shift so that their heart rate stays at a safe level. They may need regular, short breaks in order to take prescribed medication. These types of accommodations do not cause employers undue stress, and they are legally obligated to provide them. Employees with disabilities must ask for these accommodations though. Employers are legally responsible for not providing accommodations if they weren’t told what they needed to provide.