The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that protects employees and job applicants with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace. According to the ADA, so long as you are able to perform the essential duties of the job, either with reasonable accommodations or without them, then it is illegal for an employer to fire you due to your disability.
If your employer fires you because of your disability, you may have a wrongful termination claim against your employer. You will be required to gather evidence that disability discrimination took place in order to support your claim.
Disparate Treatment in Regards to Disability
There are many kinds of discrimination that takes place in the workplace. One common form of discrimination is called disparate treatment, which alleges that an employer singled out an employee or group of employees due to their disability. The most important aspect of disparate treatment is that an employee’s disability is the motivating factor for a loss of employment or being overlooked for a position.
An example of disparate treatment in regards to disability would be if your employer excluded you from a project because of your disability if a reasonable accommodation could have been made. No matter the motivation in a given instance, an employer should not exclude you from a project in lieu of providing an accommodation.
Documenting disparate treatment can be tricky, given that so much of the evidence hinges upon proving an employer’s motivation for their actions. However, if there is an established pattern of behavior, such as having a history of age, gender and disability discrimination, then you might be able to document a pattern of discrimination to help support your case.
Disability Discrimination Evidence to Gather
Since motive is such a major factor in determining whether or not an employee lost a job because of a disability, evidence that supports a discrimination claim is very important. The more evidence you can present, the stronger your case will be.
In most cases, the best evidence that you can gather is direct evidence of disparate treatment, which includes examples of conduct or statements that reflect an employer’s discriminatory behavior. This could include disparaging emails about accommodations, comments made to other employees about your disability or even statements made to you directly.
You can put together a list of examples of disability discrimination that includes the following:
- Refusal or lack of desire to provide a reasonable accommodation for your position
- Breach in confidentiality with regards to your disability. Not all disabilities are immediately evident, so a conversation with another employee about the need for an accommodation would be a violation of your privacy.
- Comments or disparaging remarks made about you or your disability
- Harassment as a result of your disability. An example of this would be expressing frustration when providing accommodation.
Be sure to include copies of your job evaluation as a reflection of your ability to do your job, which might be able to contradict the reason you were terminated.
Remember, your disability and the nature of your accommodations should remain confidential, between you and your employer, and should not be openly discussed between your employer and other employees. Even if the reason for the accommodation is obvious, such as a special desk for use with a wheelchair, your employer is not permitted to speak to other employees about it.
The more evidence you can provide for your disability discrimination case, the stronger the case will be. It’s important to gather as much information as you can at the earliest possible point, especially if you need to gather statements from coworkers. The sooner you can get their statements, the less likely the important details will be forgotten or left out.
How an Employee Rights Lawyer Can Help
With so much evidence to gather and paperwork to file, working with an attorney who specializes in employment law and employee rights can be very helpful. You’ll have someone advocating on your behalf who understands the process and knows what kind of evidence will help to make your case stronger. An employment attorney will know how to get statements from witnesses, obtain documents from your employer and even request copies of video surveillance systems as needed.
Fill out a free case evaluation form to have your disability discrimination claim sent to an attorney who handles cases in your area. Some employment lawyers work on a contingency fee basis and only require payment if they win your case, while others work for an hourly rate. Make sure you understand your prospective employment attorney’s fee structure in advance.