What constitutes disability discrimination at my job?

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2022 | Disability Discrimination |

Employees in California who have suffered a disability while working recently got some support from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The federal agency has filed a disability suit against Wal-Mart Stores East after not accommodating an employee because of disability and then firing her after she complained.

Warehouse worker developed a neurological disability

In 2019, a Wal-Mart warehouse worker in North Carolina suddenly developed severe pain in her wrist. After she was diagnosed with a neurological condition, Wal-Mart declined to given her another job. The employee applied for intermittent leave as an accommodation, but her request was denied. Wal-Mart told the employee that she could only return to work if she could provide a medical release indicating that she could work without restrictions, which was impossible because of her condition. When she complained that the big box retailer was practicing disability discrimination, Wal-Mart fired her.

Not accommodating the employee with another job along with firing her when citing her complaints to an ethics board are both violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The act outline that businesses have to provide employees with reasonable accommodations when a disability occurs. Retaliating against an employee is also against the law. The EEOC tried to reach an out-of-court settlement for the employee through voluntary conciliation, but was unsuccessful. EEOC seeks back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, plus injunctive relief against Wal-Mart to end any ongoing discrimination.

Workplace discrimination can take many forms

It doesn’t matter whether your disability is temporary or permanent; your employer cannot discriminate against you. When you can’t work in your current position because of disability, your employer must interactively engage you to find a solution and then offer you another position that provide reasonable accommodation for your limitations.

Reasonable accommodations include giving you time off for medical care and recuperation, changing your work duties and your work shift, relocating your work area, and providing physical or electrical aids so you can comfortably do your job. If you encounter pushback from your employer over a disability, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.