The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) expanded the opportunities available to those with disabling medical conditions. The law applies to everyone from landlords to retail stores, as well as employers working with those who have medical disabilities.
Employers should not consider someone’s medical conditions when making decisions about their employment and should instead only consider factors like education, experience and results when deciding who to hire, promote, terminate or offer a raise.
Unfortunately, even with federal laws like the ADA protecting the rights of workers with disabling medical conditions, disability discrimination still affects the careers of many. Knowing when to watch for signs of discrimination can help you fight back when you do experience it. When are you likely to encounter disability discrimination on the job?
Discrimination often pops up right after your diagnosis
Did you just find out that you have a degenerative condition that will require increasing levels of support from your employer as your condition worsens? Did you get hurt in a major incident on the job and need time to recover?
Usually, workers who have just suffered an injury or learned about their need for accommodations are vulnerable to employer misconduct. Companies often start looking for an excuse to fire or demote a worker dealing with a medical issue rather than supporting them so they can stay on the job.
You should be able to request reasonable accommodations to help you continue working or get back to work. Unfortunately, some companies may refuse to accommodate you, making it harder for you to do your job. Some may even find an excuse to fire you after refusing your accommodation request.
Discrimination often takes place during the hiring process
For those with an established medical condition, disability discrimination often prevents them from moving up at their company or finding a new job. When it comes to promotions, you may not receive the same opportunities and consideration as other workers despite an excellent work history.
Disability discrimination during the hiring process might involve the retraction of a job offer after you arrive for an interview in a wheelchair or when you submit a request for accommodation along with some of your hiring paperwork. You could struggle to find paying work at all because companies just find an excuse not to hire you despite your excellent qualifications.
Those who have experienced career setbacks because of disability discrimination may feel powerless. Learning about your rights can help you fight back against illegal disability discrimination.