Disability Discrimination Lawyer in Rochester, NY
Experienced Rochester Employment Attorney Helping You Fight Against Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
If you have been mistreated in the workplace due to a disability, you have suffered from disability discrimination. The federal American with Disabilities Act and the New York Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination of this kind. Under the laws, your employer cannot discriminate against you based on a real or perceived disability and also must make reasonable accommodations to allow you to perform your job functions.
Even with these strict guidelines, countless employers try to get around the law and discriminate against employees. Fortunately, you can fight back with the help of The Cimino Law Firm. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
What Is a Disability?
A disability is defined as a mental, physical, or medical condition that creates substantial limitations when engaging in major life activities, such as hearing, learning, or walking. The disability can be current, such as multiple sclerosis, or in the past. For example, if a person had cancer, but it is now in remission, he or she is still protected from disability discrimination. Those who have family members with disabilities are also protected.
What Are Some Examples of Disability Discrimination?
Disability discrimination occurs when someone who is qualified and can perform a job with or without reasonable accommodation is treated unfairly. This happens in many different ways. Look at some of the most common ways employers discriminate against people with disabilities.
Recruitment and Hiring Practices
Disability discrimination often occurs during the recruitment or hiring process. Some employers use language like “seeking able-bodied employees” to weed out disabled applicants. Others ask people about their medical histories during the application process or require that they undergo medical exams before considering them for a job. Employers cannot ask applicants medical questions or require that they take medical exams during the job process.
Disparate Treatment Regarding Medical Exams
Employers are allowed to require employees to take medical exams after extending an offer of employment. They can also ask medical questions. However, the law has put guidelines in place regarding these practices. If an employer requires exams or asks medical issues, the company must do so for each person it hires. A company is committing discrimination if it only requests this for some employees.
Hostile Work Environment
As members of a protected class, people with disabilities cannot legally be subject to harassment in the workplace. This includes off-color jokes, rude comments, and offensive pictures or videos. If it happens once, it is not considered a hostile work environment. However, if the disabled employee is confronted continuously with harassment at work, he or she will have a claim.
Unfair Treatment Due to a Family Member’s Disability
Those who have disabled family members are also protected from disability discrimination. Employers often refuse to hire or promote people who are married to someone with a disability. They claim the employees cannot devote the necessary time to the job. However, this is discrimination.
Failure to Promote Due to Disability
Some employers refuse to promote people with current or past disabilities. The employer might refuse to promote the most qualified employee because of the possibility of missed work due to the disability. Also, the employer might not want someone whose cancer is in remission out of fear that it will come back. Both examples are against the law. If someone can perform the job duties and is the best candidate, he or she should not get passed over due to a disability.
Job-related decisions cannot be made based on a disability, as long as the employee is qualified and able to perform the job functions with or without reasonable accommodation. That includes termination. Some employers fire people after they become disabled, even though they can do their necessary job functions. Others fire people who take protected leave due to the disability. Disability-related absences are considered reasonable accommodation in the workplace. Firing someone due to taking leave is disability discrimination and against the law.
Failing to Provide Reasonable Accommodation
The law makes it clear that employers must provide reasonable accommodation to allow disabled employees to perform their jobs. Sadly, many employers who have the means to accommodate employees still fail to do so. In fact, between the years of 2012-2014, 34 percent of the disability claims filed with the EEOC were due to a lack of reasonable accommodation. It is even worse in New York, where 42 percent of the complaints were filed based on this issue.
What Is Reasonable Accommodation?
There is some confusion regarding what reasonable accommodation means under the law. The law requires that employers provide reasonable accommodation for those who have mental or physical limitations. This means that the employer must make adjustments in the workplace so the employee can perform his or her duties.
The keyword is “reasonable.” The employer must be able to make the accommodation without spending an unreasonable amount of money or causing an unreasonable disruption to the workplace.
Examples of a reasonable accompany include:
- Adjusting a work schedule
- Providing disabled employees with additional breaks
- Ensuring the facility is accessible
- Modifying training materials
- Changing policies
- Buying new equipment
Examples of unreasonable accommodation would be removing essential job functions to allow the employee to work or making another employee take on additional work.
How Do You Prove Disability Discrimination?
You will need evidence to prove a disability discrimination claim. The Cimino Law Firm can help you gather this evidence.
Direct evidence is rare in these cases. Most employers don’t send emails that clearly state that they are discriminating against an employee. Typically, circumstantial evidence is used to prove the claim.
You also need evidence that you were qualified for the position with or without reasonable accommodation. That means you must be able to perform the duties of the job.
Once you gather the evidence, you can file a claim with the state of New York, the federal government, or both. You also have the option to file a suit against your employer.
What Damages Are Available in Disability Discrimination Cases?
If you are a victim of disability discrimination, you have suffered a great deal. You have likely lost money and dealt with pain and suffering.
Fortunately, the courts can make you whole again. You can receive back and front pay, damages for emotional distress, and money for attorney’s fees. If your employer acted maliciously or recklessly, you also might be entitled to punitive damages.
Also, the court might require that your employer rehire you if you have been terminated. If so, your employer will need to make a reasonable accommodation if necessary.
Let The Cimino Law Firm Fight for You
Disability discrimination is not easy to prove. You need a skilled lawyer on your side, gathering evidence and fighting for you. Michelle Cimino of The Cimino Law Firm has dedicated her career to employment law. She has spent more than 20 years of fighting discrimination cases. She understands both state and federal laws and knows how to fight for your rights.
She is more than a warrior for people with disabilities. She and the rest of the firm also help clients deal with the emotions they feel during this difficult time. Being the victim of discrimination is not easy, but you will feel better when you have The Cimino Law Firm on your side.
You can begin the process with a free phone consultation. After you talk to an employment lawyer on the phone, you can come to one of our offices. We have offices in Rochester and Webster, NY.
Contact us today to begin the process.