Steffans Legal Represents Employees In Disability Discrimination Cases In Pittsfield, North Adams, Springfield, Worcester, Lowell, Fall River, New Bedford, And Cape Cod
Disability discrimination is one of the more complicated and common areas of employment law. This area of employment law is particularly complicated because it not only prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against employees because of their disability; it also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees so they can perform their job.
Over the last 12 years, Steffans Legal has handled countless cases involving unlawful disability discrimination. During that time, we’ve talked to countless people who were suffering from unlawful disability discrimination. From Pittsfield to Worcester; Springfield to Lowell, New Bedford to Fall River, and on the Cape, our clients have learned that if they are subject to unlawful discrimination, we can help.
Below are the most common questions we are asked by employees who think they are suffering from disability discrimination. Feel free to read those and the rest of this site to learn more. And, as always, feel free to schedule a free consultation to find out if you are suffering from unlawful disability discrimination.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Disability Discrimination
Am I really "disabled"? The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act both define ‘disability’ very broadly. As a result, many people who do not consider themselves ‘disabled’ are considered as such under the law. Technically, you are disabled if you suffer from a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Courts have interpreted this very broadly and typically find most employees who bring disability discrimination claims carry their burden of establishing they are disabled. Put simply, you’d be surprised how many conditions qualify as disabilities for purposes of anti-discrimination law.
I think I may be legally disabled. What rights do I have? The ADA and its Massachusetts counterpart provide disabled employees with four important rights: You are entitled not to be harassed because of that disability, you are entitled not to be terminated or disciplined because of that disability, you are entitled to reasonable accommodations that will address limitations caused by your disability so you may do your job, and you are entitled to participate in an interactive process with your employer to identify those reasonable accommodations.
Can you give an example of how all this works? Sure. Say you have glaucoma, which is a “disability” as it substantially limits your ability to see, and you are having a hard time reading information off the computer screen provided by your employer. That inability to read off the computer screen is preventing you from doing your job. At that point, your employer has an obligation to interact with you to identify potential ways to solve that problem. That’s known as the ‘interactive process.’ Your employer is obligated to provide all solutions that are ‘reasonable.’ Hiring you an assistant to read to you? Probably not reasonable. Purchasing you a $150 specialized monitor? Probably reasonable. Employers that don’t engage in the interactive process or that refuse to provide reasonable accommodations have engaged in unlawful disability discrimination.
What about an example based on medical leaves? This is the most common by far. Say you have cancer and need to take 2 months off from work for intensive radiation and chemotherapy. After that two months, you need to be on a reduced schedule for 6 months while you continue treatment. Clearly cancer is a disability. According to disability law, your employer will have to allow you to miss two months and then go on a reduced schedule for six months unless they can prove that would be an undue hardship. They will likely claim it is, but claiming it and proving it are two different things.