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Disability Discrimination

Atlanta Disability Discrimination Attorney

Fighting For Those Who Have Experienced Discrimination Based on Their Disability in Georgia

There are tens of millions of individuals in America who face physical or mental disabilities that might limit their ability to carry out certain tasks. However, these disabilities do not prevent them from being valuable and productive members of society and the workforce. Sadly, despite the progress made in recent years, many employers continue to discriminate against employees with disabilities, driven by bias, stereotypes, and ignorance. 

The disability discrimination attorneys at Beal Sutherland Berlin & Brown have a proven track record in handling cases where individuals have experienced such discrimination. For example, Brian Sutherland represented an employee who was denied leave for mental health treatment and won a trial award of over $622,000

If your case involves failure to accommodate or you have been treated unfairly at work due to your disability, contact our Atlanta disability discrimination lawyers at Beal Sutherland Berlin & Brown by submitting an online for or by calling (404) 476-5305!

Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act

If you believe that you have experienced disability discrimination at work, it is crucial to know your rights. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, a disability can be defined in a number of ways, such as:

  1. A physical or mental condition that limits one or more major life activities
  2. A history or record of such a condition
  3. An employer's perception that the individual has such a condition
  4. An association with someone who has a condition

Examples of Disability Discrimination

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on their disability status, including:

  1. Discrimination in hiring, firing, recruitment, training, job assignments, promotions, benefits, pay, layoffs, leave, and other employment practices
  2. Harassment of employees with disabilities
  3. Asking inappropriate medical questions during the hiring process
  4. Requiring unnecessary medical exams
  5. Failure to accommodate or provide reasonable accommodations that enable employees with physical or mental disabilities to perform their job functions
  6. Maintaining a workplace that poses significant physical barriers for employees with physical disabilities.

What Are Reasonable Accommodations?

Employees with disabilities may require certain adjustments or assistance to perform their job duties, which are referred to as "reasonable accommodations." Employers are legally required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, enabling them to perform essential job functions.

For instance, an employer may be obligated to provide an employee with cancer or another condition a leave of absence to receive treatment. Additionally, employers may need to accommodate an employee's physical limitations by allowing them to sit or stand frequently, honoring lifting restrictions, or changing their schedule. 

The law specifies that reasonable accommodations may consist of:

  • Job restructuring
  • Modified or part-time work schedules
  • Reassignment to a vacant position
  • Special equipment or devices
  • Modified exams, training, or workplace policies
  • Providing readers or interpreters

Employers may sometimes refuse to provide reasonable accommodations, citing that it would cause an "undue hardship." While the law allows employers to avoid certain accommodations in some circumstances, it also requires employers to engage in an "interactive process" or discussion to understand the employee's needs and offer alternatives if the requested accommodation is not feasible. If you have been refused reasonable accommodations, our Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer can determine if your employer has committed a failure to accommodate.

Is Failure To Accommodate Discrimination?

Yes, in some circumstances, it is possible to consider the failure to provide accommodations as discrimination. Federal and state laws require employers to provide workers with disabilities with reasonable accommodations. It is referred to as a "failure to accommodate" when an employer neglects this duty. Disability discrimination is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as the failure to offer reasonable accommodations. Therefore, it may be discriminatory if an employer forcibly refuses a disabled employee's request for a reasonable accommodation.  Treating a disabled employee differently or unfairly because they require reasonable accommodations may be considered discrimination.

What Employers Are Legally Allowed To Ask About Your Disability

As a job applicant, you are protected by law from being asked about your disabilities or the extent of them during a job interview. However, a prospective employer can ask if you are capable of performing the job's required duties with or without reasonable accommodations. The employer can also inquire about how you will carry out the job's tasks. While you cannot be required to undergo a medical exam before being offered a job, a medical exam can be a condition of the job offer if certain conditions are met. For example, if all entering employees in the job category must take the medical exam, if the exam is relevant to the job, and if the exam is consistent with the employer's business needs. Information generated by the medical exam cannot be used to reject your employment unless it shows that you cannot fulfill an essential job requirement that is necessary for the employer to conduct business. 

If a reasonable accommodation would enable you to perform the essential job functions, the employer cannot refuse to hire you based on your disability. After being hired, an employer cannot make medical inquiries or require medical exams unless it is job-related and consistent with business necessity. Exceptions to this rule include fitness-for-duty exams for law enforcement officers or return-to-duty certifications for employees whose job-related health is crucial for safety.

What Damages Could Be Recovered In An ADA Disability Discrimination Case?

What you can recover in your disability discrimination case depends on whether your case is brought under the ADA, or the Rehabilitation Act, or both. The ADA applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as counties and cities and some state governments. The Rehabilitation Act applies to employers who receive federal financial assistance.

Under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, you can recover:

  • Back pay, or lost wages and benefits, from the two years preceding the date you filed your charge of discrimination to the conclusion of your EEOC case or the verdict or judgment in court;
  • Injunctive relief, including reinstatement or front pay for a reasonable period of time in lieu of reinstatement; and
  • Attorney’s fees and costs of litigation.

Under the ADA only, you can recover:

  • Compensatory damages for pain and suffering, including emotional distress damages; and
  • Punitive damages to punish and deter the employer from ever treating another employee like you were treated.

The amount of compensatory and punitive damages you can recover depends on the number of employees your employer has, and are limited to:

  • $50,000 for employers with between 15 and 100 employees;
  • $100,000 for employers with between 101 and 200 employees;
  • $200,000 for employers with between 201 and 500 employees; and
  • $300,000 for employers with more than 500 employees.

How Do I Know If I Have A Claim Of Disability Discrimination Against My Employer?

You might have a strong case against your company if you believe that you've been the victim of disability discrimination. Laws against harassment and discrimination based on a person's disabilities are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). People with disabilities are likewise protected from discrimination during the hiring process by federal statutes.

To establish a case of disability discrimination, you need to demonstrate that:

  • You have a qualifying disability;
  • You can perform your essential job duties;
  • And you have been subjected to unfair treatment because of your disability

It's important to note that you are also not required to inform your employer of your disability when applying for a job.

Contact Our Disability Discrimination Lawyer in Atlanta Today

If you wish to make a claim, reach out to an experienced disability discrimination lawyer in Atlanta near you at Beal Sutherland Berlin & Brown. We can help you understand more about your rights and the best course of action based on your situation.

Call our Atlanta disability discrimination attorneys at (404) 476-5305 or contact us online to set up a consultation. 

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