Disability discrimination

Disability discrimination in employment occurs when an employer who is covered by the American with Disabilities Act treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because of that person’s disability. This not only includes people who currently have a disability, but also those who have a history of such a disability or who are believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory and minor.

Disability discrimination can also occur in the form of harassment in the workplace by a supervisor, co-worker, client or customer of the employer. Such conduct can include offensive remarks about a person’s disability. Although the law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

Federal and state law forbid disability discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. The Americans with Disabilities Act is the federal law applicable to disability discrimination claims. The Idaho Human Rights Act provides the basis for state law claims of disability discrimination in employment.

The ADA protects persons who have physical or mental impairments that substantially limit a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning); persons who have a history of such an impairment; or a person who is believed to have such an impairment, even if the person does not have such an impairment.

The law requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of the job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. An employer is not required to accommodate a disability if doing so would cause undue burden to the employer’s business in light of the employer’s size, financial resources, and other needs of the business.

If you believe you have been a victim of disability discrimination in employment, you should act promptly to pursue any claim as the time for filing such claims is limited. Claims for disability discrimination under the ADA and/or under the Idaho Human Rights Act must first be filed with the Idaho Human Rights Commission before such claims can be pursued in Court.