Disability Discrimination

State and Federal Law Prohibit Disability Discrimination

According to the CDC, 61 million adults in the United States (1 out of every 4) live with a disability, and many of them live in the South. Under the current Texas Labor Code and Americans with Disabilities Act, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because of any disability that employee has. Employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. If you lose job opportunities due to your disability, or you can't get reasonable accommodations, you may have a case. Wiley Associates, P.C.'s Austin disability lawyers will help you make your claim in court.

Disabilities Are Broadly Defined Under the Law

The original ADA definition of disability only included impairments that severely restricted daily life or fully prevented normal activities. Chronic conditions such as HIV, diabetes, and cancer were not considered disabilities. Mental health issues such as anxiety or depression were also excluded. The old, narrow definition even caused doubt as to whether the use of prosthetic limbs would be considered a protected disability. Thankfully, that has now changed. In 2008, the ADA was updated to define disability as broadly as possible. Disabilities are no longer required to severely restrict or prevent life activities. Physical impairments, impairments of major bodily functions, and mental health issues are all now covered.

Disability Discrimination Takes Many Different Forms

Companies sometimes use an applicant's disability status as a reason not to hire them. However, if you can perform the essential functions of a job with or without an accommodation for any disability you might have, then the company is prevented by law from rejecting you because of your disability.

Employers commonly discriminate against employees by refusing to provide reasonable accommodations that would help them do their job. Reasonable accommodations include things like the ability to take time off for medical treatment, specialized office equipment, remote work, and guaranteed access to the workplace for employers with mobility issues (including ramps and parking spaces). If you request a reasonable accommodation to help with your disability, and your employer takes adverse action such as firing you, demoting you, transferring you, or in any way retaliating against you, that could be disability discrimination or ADA retaliation.

Workers with disabilities often find that their employer underestimates their abilities or assumes they won't be able to complete necessary tasks. It is not uncommon for employers to abruptly change their behavior towards a worker if they learn that that worker has a disability. If your company takes responsibilities away from you or stops trusting you to do your job after learning that you have a disability, that could be discrimination under the ADA.

Workers with impairments that do not materially affect their daily life, or that do not rise to the legal definition of disability, are still sometimes treated as though they are disabled at work. The 2008 amendments to the ADA extended the law to protect workers who are "regarded as" disabled by their employer, even if they do not have a disability. Therefore, if you have a condition that does not affect your ability to do your job, but your employer believes that it does and takes adverse action against you, you may be protected by the law.

When Can You Make a Claim?

In Texas, you have anywhere from 180 days (under state law) to 300 days (under federal law) to bring your case, depending on the details of the situation. These time limits can be strict, so if you have been a victim of disability-based discrimination, it's important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. An Austin disability lawyer will help you to bring the best case possible to the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commission. If you think you've been discriminated against or retaliated against, or if you think you have a case, please contact us today. You can do so by filling out our contact form or calling our office at (512) 271-5527.

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