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Disabilities and discrimination in the workplace

Finding and keeping a job can be stressful. If you have a disability, it can be even more challenging. However, you have rights as a disabled individual. This includes protection from discrimination and harassment.

In California, both state and federal laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that defines disability. It also provides employers with regulations they should follow to accommodate any person with a disability.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides state-specific rules and regulations that California employers must follow to protect employee rights.

Types of discrimination

Discrimination can take many forms. Some forms include harassment regarding a disability and unfair treatment during the hiring process.

More specifically, you may have cause for concern if:

  • An interviewer asks inappropriate or invasive questions about your disability that are irrelevant to the job
  • Colleagues make rude comments or exclude you from important meetings
  • Your employer fails to provide reasonable accommodations
  • Your employer fires or demotes you for taking a job-protected medical leave
  • Your employer gives negative references to future employers as it relates to your disability

Employers may also have discriminatory practices or policies. Examples of these might include:

  • Advertising jobs in places to which people with disabilities do not have access
  • Not offering promotions to someone based on a family member’s disability or a past disability
  • Failing to provide reasonable accommodations
  • Holding trainings, meetings or other work-related events in places that an employee with a disability cannot attend

These examples may be more subtle and possibly unintentional. However, they can still give rise to a disability discrimination claim.

What can I expect from my employer?

Your employer should treat you fairly when hiring, promoting, training and terminating. Employers should also provide reasonable accommodations that allow you to perform your job. Talk to your employer if you need any special tools to ensure you feel comfortable and productive in the office.

However, if you are facing discrimination in the workplace that you believe is due to your disability, you can consult with an attorney. An attorney can help determine whether you have grounds to pursue a legal claim and protect your rights.