What is Disability Discrimination?
An employer may not treat an employee differently based on the employee’s disability or perceived disability.
Disabled employees are those who 1) have a physical or mental impairment that may substantially limit one or more major life activity; 2) have a record, or prior history, of such an impairment; or 3) are regarded, or perceived, as disabled.
A disabled employee must be able to perform the essential functions of his/her job with, or without, a reasonable accommodation. A reasonable accommodation is an accommodation that an employer must provide which would permit an employee to do his/her job while not imposing an undue burden on the employer. For example, an employee who has issues with his/her hands might need an ergonomic keyboard in order to do his/her job. An employer who has trouble walking might be permitted to move his/her workstation to a location that is closer to the door or on the first floor of a building. An accommodation is unreasonable if it would impose great difficulty or expense on an employer. Whether or not an accommodation is reasonable depends on a number of factors including the size of the employer, its financial resources and its business needs.
An employee who is regarded, or perceived, as disabled is one whom the employer treats as disabled when in fact he/she is not. For example, consider the case of an applicant who tells his potential employer that he has a recurrent condition that flares up occasionally and requires a few days off from work when it flares up. The condition does not qualify as a disability but the potential employer decides not to hire the applicant based solely on his medical condition. The employer has regarded the employee as disabled and violated the law.