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NYC Employment Lawyer > Blog > Employment Discrimination > Terms To Know In Workplace Disability Discrimination Cases

Terms To Know In Workplace Disability Discrimination Cases


The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, ostensibly prohibiting discrimination against disabled people in all aspects of life, including employment. New York’s Human Rights Law does the same thing. However, while many overt forms of discrimination are becoming less common, more subtle kinds of disability discrimination are sadly endemic. If you believe that your disability has been used against you at any point in the employment process, you have the right to seek compensation for what you have suffered.

Defining Disability

In general, the definition of disability discrimination is unfair treatment of a person based on their real (or perceived) disability. Because of this, it is crucial to understand that the definition of “disability” is a very specific one. Legally, the ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental “impairment” that “substantially limits one or more major life activities” – this definition has several terms that may require unpacking in order to arrive at an answer as to whether one is legally disabled or not.

The New York Human Rights Law, however, has a much broader definition of “disability” and “disabled person” – there are no qualifiers on how severe a disability has to be; it merely has to interfere with the “exercise of a normal bodily function.” All of this matters because if one is judged not to be disabled, or to not look disabled, they have no recourse under the law for the discriminatory treatment they have suffered.

Is An Accommodation “Reasonable?”

One of the major bones of contention in many disability discrimination cases is the issue of accommodations. Both the ADA and the NYSHRL mandate that a disabled employee should be granted reasonable accommodations to help make the performance of their job duties easier, and that requesting them should not be counted against the employee. However, an employer has the right to refuse the request if the accommodation is not seen as reasonable.

The reason for this right is that the word “reasonable” differs between employers. A disabled employee’s request may be eminently reasonable for a corporation with a large clientele and 500 employees, but it may be too costly or inefficient for a small “mom-and-pop” business with 5 employees and a fair amount of overhead. A mere refusal does not automatically mean that an employer is acting in a discriminatory way, but too often it is seen as such.

Contact A New York Employment Discrimination Attorney

Disabled employees are too often treated poorly because they are perceived to make bad employees, but they are entitled to be given every opportunity and treated with the same respect as any able-bodied employee. If this has not been your experience, calling a New York City employment discrimination attorney at Mansell Law, LLC may be the first step toward getting some closure on a bad situation. Call our offices today at 646-921-8900 for a free consultation.




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