People with disabilities often face challenges in the workplace. Many face disability discrimination and are never even hired for positions for which they are amply qualified. They may get teased because of their appearance or their inabilities. Perhaps they have mobility issues. Maybe they have a medical condition that requires reasonable accommodations from their employer.
It is important for employees to understand disability sensitivity. This means gaining awareness of a co-worker’s disability and learning to accept him or her instead of teasing, harassing, or ostracizing a coworker. Many people have never had a disability or known anyone who does, so working with someone who is mentally or physically disabled can be a new experience. However, with workplace training, employees can feel more comfortable working with disabled coworkers.
What is Disability Discrimination?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines disability discrimination as unfavorable treatment of a person who is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Discrimination also includes unfavorable treatment by an employer due to a history of disability (such as cancer) or a short-term mental or physical impairment (such as a broken arm or concussion). Discrimination can include demotions, pay decreases, layoff, terminations, or any other aspects of employment.
If an employee does have a disability, the employer is required to make reasonable accommodations. Reasonable means that the accommodations would not create a significant hardship on an employer. For example, if a blind person applies for a truck driver position—which would require a specific license as well as good eyesight—it would be unreasonable to expect the employer to make accommodations for that applicant.
Discrimination can also come in the form of harassment. It is illegal to harass someone due to a current or previous disability. Harassment does not include mere teasing or one-off remarks. However, if the harassment is offensive and pervasive to the point that it creates a hostile work environment, then the harasser can be punished.
What is Disability Sensitivity Training?
Disability sensitivity training allows employees to better understand a co-worker’s medical condition or disability. This can be tricky, as the ADA requires confidentiality, so the person’s disability cannot be disclosed by the employer. However, the employee is free to share as much information as he or she wants, so ideally, as an employer, you should work with the disabled employee to create an informative presentation.
This can be helpful because when one employee receives special accommodation, other employees often get jealous or resentful. They want the same treatment. Therefore, by providing information about the person’s disability, other workers become more aware of the person’s limitations and are more likely to understand that the person is not receiving preferential treatment. Contact the EEOC if you are an employer interested in providing disability sensitivity training for your employees.
Contact a New York Disability Discrimination Lawyer
Many people suffer from mental or physical disabilities. In many cases, they are still capable of gainful employment and should not be teased or excluded because of their disabilities. Disability training can help bring about awareness.
If you have faced discrimination in the workplace because of your disability, the attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can help. We will help you fight for your rights. Schedule a consultation by calling our office at (347) 464-8694.