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Philadelphia Discrimination Lawyers

Disability Discrimination

Working people are protected against discrimination and harassment on the basis of an actual or perceived disability. We have represented many disabled people in achieving compensation and job protection when they have been treated unlawfully. Employment lawyers at Galfand Berger are here to help you and protect you from disability discrimination and harassment.

If you feel as though you or a loved one has been discriminated against based on a disability, here are some questions that you may have:

What disabilities does the law protect?

You are considered disabled if you have a condition which limits one or more major life activities. This means that you have a condition or a disability if it is difficult to engage in a major life activity such as breathing, seeing, walking, caring for yourself, working, social activities, reading, eating, digesting, hearing, speaking or any other activity which is essential to daily living.

Disabilities can be physical or mental, such as developmental disorders, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness or specific learning disabilities, which limit a major life activity. This could be the result of disabilities that are apparent, such as being in a wheelchair, using a cane, being disfigured or having an amputation. Or, they could be subtler, such as a heart problem, breathing difficulties, depression, anxiety and any other disorders that affect any daily life activity. To be considered a disabling condition, a disability or limitation must be, or be perceived, as long-standing or permanent (an exception to this are pregnancy-related disabilities, which are covered under a separate law).

If you suffer from a temporary disability, you may be entitled to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); therefore, if your claim does not meet the criteria for disability discrimination, you may still have protection under the FMLA.

What are my legal rights?

If you are otherwise qualified for your job and can — by qualification, education, training, etc. — perform the essential job functions with or without an accommodation, you must be treated equally with all other applicants and employees. The essential job functions are the core job functions that the position requires.

An accommodation may be some tool, device, equipment, assistance and/or modification of a non-essential job function to make it possible, or easier, for a disabled person to perform an essential job function. Employers have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to employees. They don’t have to provide the accommodation preferred by an employee and they only have to provide accommodations that will not create undue hardship on the economic end or working place functions of the employer. When determining whether an accommodation is reasonable or places an undue hardship on an employer, the courts will take into account the size and economic capacity of the employer as well as the costs, expenses and disruptions associated with the accommodation. Most of the accommodations cost less than $100 and should provide no hardships to an employer.

Must my employer accommodate my disability?

The law requires that once an employer is made aware of an employee’s disability and/or any workplace difficulties associated with the disability that the employer and the employee have a duty to engage in a good faith discussion of potential accommodations. An employer who fails to engage in the good faith interactive process is in violation of a law, and may be subject to damages for their violation of that law.

Can an employer refuse to hire me because of my disability?

Employers cannot discriminate against potential employees on the basis of disability. They may not ask as part of the pre-employment interview or questionnaire if you are disabled. An employer who has determined that you are qualified and has offered you a position may then inquire as to what, if any, accommodations you may require.

Can I quit my job because of disability discrimination?

It is unlawful to retaliate against you if you have requested an accommodation. If you feel that you have been retaliated against, document that in writing and send the complaint to your management and human resources department.

You may quit if conditions are intolerable. The law recognizes that sometimes conditions get so bad that people have no reasonable alternative but to quit their employment rather than endure unlawful conduct. An employee cannot just quit and sue because of a single incident. The conditions must be of such severity and frequency that a reasonable person believes they have no alternative and they were in effect “constructively discharged.” Before you quit, you should report the condition through your company complaint procedure or your rights to recover damages could be lost.

What to do if you believe you have been unlawfully treated?

Many companies have policies regarding any discrimination, harassment or retaliation that occurs in their company handbook. Likewise, they may have reporting requirements, which may mandate you to follow a certain procedure. You should request that the company take action to correct and stop any discrimination, harassment or retaliation that is occurring. You should follow the procedures and document your actions in writing. Failure to follow the procedures may lead to a denial of your rights to recover legal damages for the improper action of the company.

You have to act promptly.

There is a limited time in which you can bring a claim for discrimination, harassment or retaliation. You must file your claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under Title VII of the Civil Rights within 180 days of the last act of discrimination. The same holds true for filing a state claim with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). However, if you file a claim with the PHRC within 180 days of the last act of discrimination or harassment, you can file a claim with the EEOC within 300 days of the last act of discrimination or harassment.

Contact the Experienced Philadelphia Disability Discrimination Attorneys at Galfand Berger

If you or a loved one believes that you have a claim for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, we are happy to answer your questions and have one of our Philadelphia employment lawyers review your case for free. Please call us at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our short contact form and a member of our firm will contact you.

With offices in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Bethlehem and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  And, remember, there is no fee unless we recover for you.

 

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