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Disabilities and the workplace: Protecting against discrimination

Being discriminated against is not legal, and if you've faced a struggle in the workplace because of harassment or discrimination just because of a disability, you're in a position to file a lawsuit. It hasn't always been the case that those who were disabled would be protected against wrongful terminations or discrimination, but since the 1990's, it's been the law throughout the United States that employers can't discriminate just because a person with a disability may need concessions to work a job.

As a worker with a disability, you want to know that you're being treated fairly. The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects you against discrimination by making it illegal to discriminate against you for your disability. Only certain employers are covered by the ADA, so it's important to know if yours has to follow the legislation.

Job discrimination is illegal when it's against people with disabilities at labor-management committees, labor organizations, state or local governmental agencies, private employers or employment agencies. The ADA can be enforced against all employers who have 25 or more employees after 1992 or 15 or more employees after 1994. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission is in control of enforcement actions for any discrimination claims.

An important thing to understand about the ADA is that it doesn't guarantee a person a job. Instead, it states that if you are qualified and can perform the job without help or with reasonable accommodation, then you should be considered for the job or allowed to work it. An employer can't refuse to hire you because you're unable to perform jobs unrelated to the job you're applying for.

Source: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "The ADA: Your Employment Rights as an Individual With a Disability," accessed Feb. 03, 2016

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