It is against the law for an employer to treat a disabled employee or applicant unfavorably because of his or her disability. This also includes discrimination based on the employee or applicant’s disability history or based on the employee’s relationship with a person who has a disability.
Disability is defined by the law. It includes a physical or mental condition that limits a major life activity, a history of a disability or a physical or mental impairment that is not expected to last six months or less and is minor. Life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, talking, learning or operation of a major bodily function.
Employers cannot discriminate in any aspect of employment or harass an applicant or employee because he or she has a disability. This includes hiring, firing, pay, training and job assignments, among others. Harassment includes behavior that creates a hostile or offensive work environment.
Employers cannot ask applicants if they have a disability, ask them to answer disability-related questions or require a medical exam before providing a job offer.
Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled applicant or employee unless it would cause the employer an undue hardship. Undue hardship includes accommodations that would be significantly difficult or expensive for the employer to provide.
Accommodations may include wheelchair accessible workspaces or assistance for employees who are blind, for example. Once an employee is hired, the employer can ask him or her for medical documentation to support the accommodation request.
If an employee or applicant has been discriminated against in the workplace based on disability, an experienced attorney can help.