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What constitutes disability discrimination?

If you have a disability, work in the United States and have an employer that must adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Rehabilitation Act, you have a right to a workplace free from disability discrimination. Essentially, disability discrimination refers to a set of actions or behaviors your employer or others in your place of business may take that result in unfavorable treatment toward you because of your disability.

You also have a right to a discrimination-free workplace if you had a disability but it no longer exists (such as cancer that has since gone into remission), and you also have protections when it comes to discrimination relating to your relationship with a disabled person, such as a child or spouse.

Protected disabilities

Not all medical issues are also disabilities in the eyes of the law. For disability laws to apply, you must otherwise have the qualifications needed for your particular job, and you also must meet one of three specific disability criteria. If you have a mental or physical condition that inhibits your ability to perform primary life tasks, such as walking, seeing or hearing, this may constitute a legal disability. You may also qualify if you have a history of a disability, such as cancer, and you may qualify if you are under the impression you have an impairment that may affect you for six months or more, even if it turns out that you do not have such a condition.

Common forms of disability discrimination

Your employer may not treat you unfavorably or differently than your colleagues without disabilities when it comes to hiring and firing practices, salary decisions, promotions, or benefits. Further, your employer may not take your disability into account when making decisions about layoffs, specific job assignments or any other conditions of employment.

Disability discrimination in the workplace is a complicated area, but if you feel you are a victim, act promptly. There may be limitations in terms of the amount of time you have to act. 

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