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What is Disability Discrimination?

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that makes it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of a disability. Ohio Revised Code Section 4112 is the Ohio statute outlawing employment discrimination against disabled employees.


Both laws make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability in job application procedures; the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees; employee compensation; job training; or other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, because of the individual's disability.

For the employee to be eligible to make a claim of disability discrimination under the ADA or the Ohio Revised Code, he must be a "qualified individual with a disability." This means that he must be able to do the job. For instance, a person with no hands would not be qualified to be a typist. If the employer didn't give him the job, it wouldn't be discrimination. It's just that the person simply isn't qualified. "With a disability" means that the worker is actually disabled. For an injury, disease, or their ailment to be a "disability" under the law, it must "substantially limit one or more major life activities." A mere annoyance is not enough. The disability must actually interfere with a person's life. In determining whether or not a person actually has a disability, the Courts pay close attention to whether or not the ailment affects the person's job and ability to earn a living. So, even if the disability doesn't affect most areas of life, if it affects the person's employment, it is more likely to be considered a disability.


It is also unlawful to discriminate against a person who is perceived to have a disability. If the employee is not disabled, but the employer believes he is, and discriminated against him, that is also illegal. In this circumstance, it is not necessary to determine if the employee is a "qualified individual" with a disability.

Reasonable Accommodation is the idea that even if a person is disabled, and even if that disability may make it seem like he or she can't do a job, the employer must consider whether or not a "reasonable accommodation" can be made. A "reasonable accommodation" is when the employer modifies the job duties, provides some extra help, or takes some other measure to ensure that the person can still be able to do the job. For instance, let's say a person in a wheelchair wants a job in an office that is on the second floor. There are no elevators in the building. To accommodate he worker, the employer could install an elevator. But is that a "reasonable accommodation"? Is it reasonable to expect the employer to spend that kind of money? Probably not, particularly if it's just one small business. But there might be other possibilities. Perhaps the potential employee's job is really just talking on the telephone, selling products. Maybe the job can be done from home, and there is no need to even be in the office. Isn't it reasonable to ask the employer to let the person work at home? It may be.


Employees have to ask for reasonable accommodations. Once they do, the employer has the right to consider the requests, and make counter-offers that the employer might see as more reasonable. If the employer and employee can't agree, then the employee might want to consider bringing suit. However, to win, the judge or jury will have to find that the employee's request was reasonable, or that the employer's counter-offers were not sufficient.


The Law Firm of David A. Young, LLC represents executives and employees who have been discriminated against based upon a disability throughout the State of Ohio. Attorney David Young has been certified by the Ohio State Bar Association as a Specialist in the area of Labor and Employment Law. Attorney Young has also been recognized as a Super Lawyer in the State of Ohio for the years 2009 through 2013.


If you feel you have been terminated because of a disability or perceived disability, The Law Firm of David A. Young, LLC provides a free, no-obligation consultation.

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