It is illegal in New Jersey to discriminate against an employee due to their medical condition. This includes discrimination in hiring, firing, promoting, training, and job assignments. There are federal laws that protect against medical condition discrimination such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as state laws including the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). The law requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to an employee who has a medical condition or disability, as long as doing so will not cause significant hardships to the employer.
With offices in Red Bank, NJ, Marlton, NJ, and Newark, NJ, McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. has experience in representing employees who have been faced with medical discrimination under New Jersey state law. If you have been a victim of medical discrimination, or faced retaliation for making a complaint, your employer may be responsible to compensate you for economic damages and your pain and suffering. Our experienced New Jersey medical discrimination lawyers can get you the compensation you deserve.
Types of Medical Condition Discrimination in the Workplace
Medical discrimination comes in many forms, and they are all protected under the FMLA and ADA. Some common examples of medical condition discrimination include:
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.
Mental Illness Discrimination
The ADA also protects people with mental illnesses. Mental illnesses, impairments, and psychological disorders are protected and include, but are not limited to:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Intellectual disabilities
Individuals who are diagnosed with mental illnesses that have proven medical records that document their impairment or were previously impaired are completely covered by ADA. Employers also cannot assume that an employee has a mental illness regardless if they do or do not.
Some individuals might be at a higher risk of certain medical conditions because of their family history or genetics. Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), as well as other federal and state laws, prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee or applicant because of their genetic information. “Genetic information” as defined under GINA includes:
- Information about the genetic tests of an employee or their family members
- Information about an employee’s family medical history, including manifestation of diseases or disorders.
- An employee’s request or receipt of genetic tests.
- Genetic information about the fetus of a pregnant employee, or pregnant family member of an employee.
Chronic Illnesses Discrimination
Chronic illnesses are conditions that last more than one year and require ongoing medical attention. While the ADA does not have a complete list of protected chronic illnesses, common examples of illnesses that may affect employees in the workplace include, but are not limited to:
- Bipolar mood disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Coronary artery disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Heart Disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
New Jersey State Protections Under NJLAD
State and local laws offer additional protection to disabled workers against medical discrimination. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any individual based on a real or perceived chronic illness or 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 range of illnesses than the ADA affords. NJLAD specifically covers:
- Physical illness, disease, disability, infirmity, malformation, or disfigurement
- AIDS/HIV infection or blood traits
- Non-physical conditions including mental or psychological conditions that prevent the normal use of any bodily functions.
What Should I Do If I Have Been The Victim Of Medical Workplace Discrimination In NJ?
If you feel your employer is discriminating or retaliating against you due to your medical condition or disability, an employment discrimination attorney at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. is here to represent you in the matter. 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 medical workplace discrimination. Contact us today to discuss your case.