An Experienced NJ Disability Discrimination Lawyer Can Help You
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers protection to disabled individuals in the workplace. Under the law, employers cannot discriminate against a person with a physical disability or mental illness when hiring, compensating, promoting or firing. The law also protects disabled people from suffering retaliation from an employer when they report violations to the law.
Being discriminated against at your place of work because of a real or perceived disability is not just unfair and humiliating, it is against the law. From our offices in Red Bank, NJ, and Marlton, NJ, McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. represents both employees and employers throughout the state in a wide range of employment discrimination matters, including disability discrimination. A disability discrimination lawyer at our firm will provide you with a clear and candid evaluation of any potential claims, as well as all legal options available to you.
Who is Considered Disabled Under the ADA?
According to the ADA, a disabled person is one that has a permanent mental or physical ailment that significantly affects their mobility, communication skills, cognitive functioning or bodily functions such as breathing, digestion, bowel or bladder control, or immunity.
To be protected under the ADA, an employee must fall under the status of a “qualified worker with a disability,” which means the mental or physical disability is permanent and life altering, but the individual is still able to fulfill the job requirements of their position.
Examples of employees protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act include:
- Those who have a diagnosed disability. Covered employees include those who are unable to fully perform certain tasks of the job due to a significant physical or mental impairment. This can be proven with medical records that document the impairment.
- Those with a previous impairment. A potential or current employer cannot discriminate against an employee who previously had a disability, whether or not that disability still affects their ability to work.
- Those the employer considers to be disabled. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against a candidate due to a perceived disability, regardless of whether the employee has or does not have a disability. This includes false impressions of a previous disability or employees with a disability that has not been reported.
Employers and prospective employers must provide reasonable accommodations to meet the needs of the disabled worker. Failure to do so is considered disability discrimination, and they will be in violation of the law.
Reasonable Accommodations For Disabled Workers Under the ADA
Employers can expect disabled employees to be able to carry out the responsibilities for the job for which they were hired, yet in some cases, the employer may have to provide reasonable accommodations. Examples of reasonable accommodations can include:
- Handicapped access and ramps installed at the workplace for employees in wheelchairs
- Assisted hearing technology for workers with a hearing impairment
- Modified work schedules and flexible leave policies for those suffering from physical conditions such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes
- Allowing a disabled employee to work from home
If an accommodation for a disabled worker creates an undue hardship for an employer, they may be exempt from the law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considers several factors when determining whether an employer is able to provide a reasonable accommodation. The type of work required to provide the accommodation and the cost to the employer, as well as the financial health of the company can make it very difficult for some employers to supply the disabled worker with the modifications needed. The EEOC will also consider what efforts the employer has already offered and how the business itself would be affected by the accommodations.
State And Local Laws That Provide Additional Protection For Disabled Workers in New Jersey
The American with Disabilities Act is a federal law protecting disabled individuals, but state and local laws offer additional protection to disabled workers. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any individual based on a real or perceived disability. The NJLAD applies to all private, state and local government employers in New Jersey, whereas the ADA applies only to employers with 15 or more employees. The NJLAD also includes a broader list of disabilities than the ADA affords. NJLAD specifically covers physical disabilities as well as physical illness or disease, disfigurement, developmental impairments, psychological issues, paralysis, amputations, visual, hearing and speech impairments, and AIDS/HIV.
What is Considered Disability Discrimination?
Disability discrimination in the workplace can take many forms, and can occur between an employee and an employer, coworker, or client. Common examples of this type of harassment include the following actions based on the employee’s real or perceived disability:
- Termination or Demotion
- Failure to Recruit or Hire
- Differential Treatment or Pay
- Withholding Training, Promotions or Career Advancement
- Being Subjected to Harassment or Increased Scrutiny
- Jokes, Slurs, or Stereotypes Based on Disability
- The Existence of a Hostile Work Environment with Severe and Pervasive Harassment
- Terminating or Disciplining an Employee in Retaliation for Making a Complaint
- Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodations
- Exclusion from Work Events Due to Disability
How New Jersey Employers Can Prevent Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
Employers should be aware of applicable federal and state laws to avoid disability discrimination claims, including requirements for reasonable accommodation for disabled employees. It is the responsibility of an employer to take proactive measures to prevent, investigate, address, and defend any possible claims of disability discrimination. To avoid legal penalties and ensure that you are taking appropriate steps to prevent and correct unlawful workplace discrimination, it is imperative to contact a knowledgeable disability discrimination lawyer who can provide sound advice regarding your responsibilities under employment law.
What Should I Do If I Have Been the Victim of Disability Discrimination in NJ?
Whenever you feel you are being discriminated against in the workplace because of your disability, or you witness the discrimination of another, it is important to reach out to an experienced disability discrimination lawyer at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. We will review the details of your case and help you determine if you should pursue action by filing a lawsuit under the NJLAD or federal law. We can also defend you if you are an employer facing a claim of disability discrimination.