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Life in a wheelchair: Disability discrimination California

Living with a disability is hard enough without having to fight against those who discriminate against you. It's important that you get to work in a discrimination-free workplace where you feel comfortable and accepted. Employers should know better than to discriminate against those with disabilities. Your coworkers and supervisors should, too. If you've found you're living in turmoil because of harassment or discrimination, then your attorney can help.

What is discrimination in the workplace?

Discrimination is treating you differently than others because of your health or physical disability. For example, if you use a wheelchair, your use of a wheelchair shouldn't hold you back from a promotion for which you're qualified. Or, perhaps you use a wheelchair and ask for a ramp to get up a set of stairs. Your employer should provide this reasonable accommodation for you.

Discrimination takes place when an employer fails to provide you with reasonable accommodation and won't recognize you the same as others due to your physical or mental disabilities. As long as you are qualified for a job or position, you should not be refused it simply based on your disabilities.

What isn't workplace discrimination?

Not getting a promotion doesn't automatically mean there was discrimination. There are many qualified people in the world, and it may be that another person was more qualified than you for a particular position.

Another thing that isn't discrimination is, for example, a set of stairs without a ramp when there is an elevator right next to you. There's no reason for an employer to add a ramp if there is reasonable accommodation nearby that you can easily access.

When does workplace banter become discrimination?

Banter is often just that, banter. However, it is still discriminatory to call you by rude nicknames or slurs. For instance, it's inappropriate for your boss or coworkers to call you "wheels," and it's also unacceptable for them to treat you as if you're mentally handicapped simply because you're in a wheelchair.

Usually, rude or derogatory comments are fairly obvious, and you'll know when you're being made fun of or ridiculed because of your disability. In those cases, you have a right to speak to the human resources department or your boss to resolve the issue. If it does not resolve quickly, then you may want to consider seeking legal advice.

Discrimination comes in many forms, from discrimination against your race to discrimination against a disability. There is no place for discrimination in the workplace. You have a right to a healthy environment where you feel comfortable and welcome.

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