In 1945, Congress passed a law declaring the first week in October as "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." It was later expanded to include the entire month and the name was changed to National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The national campaign is designed to improve awareness about the employment issues facing people with disabilities.
One such issue that we're sure many of our California readers are quite familiar with is disability discrimination. It's an employment issue that can arise in any workplace and can lead to serious litigation if employers are not careful. In this week's post, we wanted to highlight what this type of discrimination is and how you can avoid it in your own business.
Disability discrimination occurs when an employer treats an applicant or employee unfavorably simply because of their disability. Some actions that could be considered as disability discrimination are:
- Not hiring a qualified person because of their disability
- Treating an employee unfairly because of a history of disability
- Not making reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability
- Asking a job applicant to take a medical exam prior to extending a job offer
If you're a business owner or manager for a company here in California, then you're probably well aware of the fact that people with disabilities are protected from workplace discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Partaking in or continuing to allow disability discrimination in the workplace is a violation of the ADA and can lead to civil litigation and possibly penalties.
It's important to point out that employers can often avoid discrimination lawsuits by being aware of employment laws specific to their organization and actively informing their employees about the consequences associated with discrimination in the workplace.
Sources: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Disability Discrimination," Accessed Oct. 2, 2014
The United States Department of Labor, "National Disability Employment Awareness Month," Accessed Oct. 1, 2014