Under state and federal law, employment discrimination on the basis of disability is illegal. These laws guarantee equal employment access to the disabled. In some cases, they require special accommodations to ensure fair and equal employment rights.
Has your Connecticut company been accused of disability discrimination? Are you unsure whether your policies comply with the law? If so, you will need dedicated and experienced legal counsel from a Connecticut employment attorney. Aeton Law Partners can help you avoid a discrimination lawsuit or defend you if one has been filed.
How Does Connecticut Define Disability?
Connecticut statutes prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of disability. The laws cover physical disabilities, mental disabilities, and learning disabilities. They are each defined as follows:
- Physical disability: a physical handicap, infirmity, or impairment. May be the result of an injury or a disease.
- Mental disability: refers to a mental disorder as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
- Learning disability: describes a significant difference between intellectual ability and academic performance. May also include a disorder that impedes understanding or using language.
How Does the Federal Government Define Disability?
The main federal law requiring equal rights for the disabled is the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA. The law defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that limits a major life activity. A life activity can be something as basic as walking or eating. But it may also include cognitive activities such as thinking, communicating, or concentrating.
What Is Disability Discrimination in Employment?
The law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of an individual’s disability. State and federal laws are concerned with what is known as disparate treatment. This term means that a person has been singled out for negative treatment of some kind. In the context of employment discrimination, it can apply to current or potential employees.
More specifically, disability-based employment discrimination covers:
- Refusal to hire a disabled person
- Terminating an employee because he or she is disabled
- Demoting an employee, or failing to promote one, because of a disability
- Denial of unpaid or paid leave due to disability
- Denial of other benefits because of an employee’s disability
However, disability discrimination can also apply to workplace harassment of a disabled employee. Such harassment may come from the company, management, or other employees. Belittling, mocking, threatening, intimidating, or other harassing behaviors are prohibited.
What Is Failure to Accommodate?
Sometimes, employment discrimination comes in the form of failing to accommodate a disabled employee. Both state and federal laws require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees. Some examples of modifications that employers are required to make include:
- Adjusting a disabled employee’s job performance requirements and goals
- Allowing different working hours for an employee with a disability
- Permitting employee time off for physical therapy, rehabilitation, or treatment of a disability
- Providing special keyboards to employees who are blind
- Designating parking spaces close to the building for disabled employees
Two key questions to ask in these cases are:
- Was the employee qualified for the job?
- Could the employee have performed the job if a reasonable accommodation had been provided?
If the answer to both questions is yes, the disabled employee may have a claim against your business.
Aeton Law Partners Can Help Protect Your Company
Our firm approaches employment discrimination cases in two ways: preventive and defensive. Preventive means we take steps to help businesses prevent these lawsuits in the first place. That means reviewing existing policies and procedures to identify potential legal hazards.
Then, we get to work correcting them so you comply with the law. Defensive means defending your business in the event you are sued. That could include reaching a favorable out-of-court settlement through mediation.
Have questions about disability-based employment discrimination? Has your business been sued over it? Give Aeton Law Partners a call today.