Disability Discrimination: How to Tell If You’re Suffering at Work

Disability discrimination remains one of the most common and least considered forms of workplace discrimination in the United States. According to statistics reported by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), two thirds of the 62,0000 workplace discrimination charges filed with the agency since 2020 have been disability-related. 

This comes as no surprise to many disabled Americans. Because of the wide range of conditions that are considered disabilities, there are no hard-and-fast rules regarding what is considered discriminatory and what is not. Instead, the EEOC interprets the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) using several rules of thumb. 

The most important and most hotly debated rule covers accommodations. It is typically no harder to determine if a disabled person is being harassed for their health than to identify racial or religious persecution. However, the ADA requires businesses to provide “reasonable” accommodations to disabled workers, where “reasonable” is defined as those that would not pose an “undue hardship” to the business. 

The wide variety of conditions protected by the ADA and companies subject to its rules mean that the definition and application of these two terms can vary significantly from case to case. In short, while it is may not be a surprise that disability discrimination remains common, workers may be surprised by the behaviors that may be considered discriminatory.

Signs You Are Being Discriminated Against for Your Disability

If you aren’t sure whether you are facing discrimination, you are not alone. Even if you are not being actively harassed, you may still be suffering. If you notice the three following trends in your workplace, you may be suffering discrimination based on your disability. 

You Aren’t Granted Basic Accommodations

While there is much debate about how much effort is considered an undue hardship, you are still owed certain basic accommodations at work. At a minimum, you have the right to request a stool if you work as a cashier and have a broken leg, or an ergonomic keyboard if you have a desk job and arthritis. If you struggle even to get small, low-cost accommodations like these, your workplace may be hostile to disabled people. 

You Don’t Receive Promotions or Raises at the Same Rate

Your employer cannot take adverse employment action against you for your disability as long as you perform up to standard with your accommodations. This means that your disability is not to be considered when deciding promotions and raises, just performance. 

Suppose you have not been granted reasonable accommodations and receive poor evaluations because you’re struggling, or you achieve similar results to your coworkers and still get passed over for raises and promotions. In these cases, you may be facing discrimination. 

You Receive Worse Treatment or Assignments

Employers also may not discriminate in job assignments or discipline because of your disability. If you always seem to be stuck in the back office instead of being on the floor where you can earn a commission, that could be discriminatory. Similarly, if you are treated more harshly for minor infractions like showing up late than able-bodied coworkers, you may be in a hostile workplace.At Alexander, Morrison + Fehr, LLP, we specialize in helping workers stand up to discrimination. Learn more about how we can help you by scheduling your consultation today.