Discrimination |
March 30, 2022

Disability Discrimination: What Is It and Why Does It Happen?

The law prohibits discrimination in employment based on a wide variety of disabilities. Unfortunately, some employees with disabilities can be left unprotected if they do not know their legal rights. The experienced employment lawyers at Minnis & Smallets work hard to prevent all types of discrimination in the workplaces of California. Learn more about disability discrimination – and your critical legal rights under state and federal law.

What is Disability Discrimination?

The law prohibits most employers from treating an employee – or even a job applicant – unfavorably because they have a disability. There are many employment decisions that are covered by these laws. If an applicant is not hired because of their disability, this could be unlawful discrimination. If an employee is not paid the same as non-disabled employees or given opportunities for advancement, this could also be discrimination. 

Even assigning disabled employees to less desirable shifts or denying opportunities for overtime pay could be considered discrimination. The question is whether a disabled employee is being treated less favorably than non-disabled employees in a similar position (with similar training, education, and experience).

Employers must provide “reasonable accommodation” to allow employees with a disability to perform their job. If, however, the accommodation would cause a significant amount of time, effort, or expense to the employer, then it is not considered “reasonable.” Employers may deny a request for accommodation if it would cause them an “undue burden.” 

Applicants and employees with disabilities should, however, consult with their own lawyers about the reasonable accommodations they require. Just because an employer denies a reasonable accommodation does not mean that it is actually an undue burden. Get advice from your own attorney on this critical legal issue. 

What Laws Protect Me From Disability Discrimination?

There are many different laws that protect California workers from disability discrimination. Federal law recognizes disability rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1991. Here in California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act also protects the rights of employees with disabilities. There are also several related employment laws that cover specific disabilities. For example, pregnancy discrimination is unlawful because it discriminates against a pregnant worker based on their gender. Disabilities that are related to pregnancy are therefore protected under both gender discrimination laws and disability discrimination laws. Consult with one of our experienced disability discrimination lawyers to determine which specific legal protections apply to your unique situation. 

Why Some Employers Think They Can Get Away With Disability Discrimination

Sadly, some employers still think they can get away with discriminating against employees with disabilities, even years after it was first made unlawful. When workers with disabilities are silent, employers think there will be no consequences for their unlawful actions. This is why it is so important to hold employers (and prospective employers) accountable for unlawful disability discrimination. The experienced legal team at Minnis & Smallets handles all types of disability discrimination issues. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with a Bay Area employment law attorney.