Employment discrimination on the basis of disability is illegal under both state and federal law. These laws ensure equal rights for all employees, and sometimes require accommodations to level the playing field. If you’re an employer who has been accused of disability discrimination, you need effective legal counsel from New York business litigation attorneys.
Rosenbaum & Taylor is here to advocate for your New York business. We can help you reduce the likelihood of a discrimination lawsuit or defend you in the event you are sued.
What Is Employment Disability Discrimination?
While blatant discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited, most employers are not so bold as to openly discriminate. Lawsuits that allege discrimination often do so on the basis of more subtle policies and practices. In general, these claims typically fall into one of these categories:
- Refusal to extend employment, or employment opportunities or benefits, on the basis of disability
- Harassment of a disabled employee
- Physical inaccessibility to a workplace (e.g. lack of wheelchair ramps)
- Failure to accommodate a disabled employee
State and federal laws and regulations, along with some local ones, prohibit employment disability discrimination. These rules protect a person’s:
- History of disability
- Association with someone who has a disability
Indirect Discrimination: a Less Obvious Form of Discrimination
As mentioned above, most employers won’t openly discriminate because of an employee’s disability. But even if you have workplace policies and rules which seem fair, a court could consider them discriminatory. Rules that have a disproportionate negative impact on the disabled could violate the law.
For instance, let’s say that your company has a rule that a certain job requires a driver’s license. A disabled person would be put at a disadvantage. Even though this rule applies to every employee equally, it may be viewed as discriminatory.
As the employer, you would need to show that you have a legitimate reason to impose such a rule. If the rule is justified from an employment perspective, it’s much more difficult to argue it is discriminatory. Cases like these should be directed to an experienced New York business lawyer.
Failure to Accommodate an Employee’s Disability
Another category of workplace disability discrimination concerns failure to accommodate a disabled employee. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to allow disabled employees to do their jobs. Note the word “reasonable.” What is and is not reasonable can vary, but a New York business law attorney can guide you.
These are common examples of necessary accommodations that employers may be required to make:
- Adjusting job performance requirements and goals
- Allowing different working hours for someone with a disability
- Permitting time off for physical therapy, rehabilitation, or treatment of a disability
- Providing special keyboards to employees who are blind
- Designating parking spaces close to the building
Whether a requested accommodation is reasonable or not will depend on various factors. Among them are the type of disability and the resources of the employer. If an employee has requested an accommodation and you’re unsure whether to grant it, ask a New York business attorney.
How Rosenbaum & Taylor Can Help Your New York Business
At Rosenbaum & Taylor, we like to prevent lawsuits against businesses when we can. To that end, we can review your existing company policies to identify potential legal problems. We can help you modify these policies to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. But if you are sued, we can defend your best interests in court. That may include reaching an out-of-court settlement that is favorable to you.
To learn more about New York disability discrimination issues, give our firm a call today.