Disability Discrimination Attorneys

What is Disability Discrimination?

Disability discrimination is prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA). Both laws require an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to employees or applicants with disabilities, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer or undue hardship. These laws also protect people from discrimination based on their relationship with or to a person who has a disability, even if they do not themselves have a disability.

Federal and Wisconsin laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace because of an individual’s disability. Discrimination can include all of the following:

  • Hire
  • Termination or being fired
  • Pay or compensation
  • Layoffs
  • Failure to promote
  • Failure to provide reasonable accommodations
  • Altering job assignments
  • Training
  • Denial of short-term disability leave
  • Failure to provide benefits
  • Any other term or condition of employment

Disability discrimination claims may be brought by more than just individuals with disabilities. Other individuals also protected under the law include those who:

  • Have a history of a disability, such as cancer that is controlled or in remission
  • Are believed to have a disability, regardless of whether the “disability” actually exists

Is it a Disability in the Eyes of the Law?

The ADA and WFEA only protect those employees or applicants who have a “disability.”  Not everyone who has a mental or physical condition is considered “disabled” by the ADA or WFEA.

Generally, an individual who meets one of the following conditions is  considered to have a disability:

  • Having a physical or mental condition that affects a major life activity, such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning.
  • Having a history of a disability, such as cancer that is in remission.
  • Perceived as having a physical or mental impairment, even if you do not have the impairment.

Disability Discrimination & Job Applicants

An employer cannot ask a job applicant to answer medical questions, take a medical exam, or identify a disability. After a job is offered to an applicant, employers may condition the job offer on the applicant answering certain medical questions or successfully passing a medical exam, but only if all new employees in the same type of job have to answer the same questions or take the same exam.

Medical Exams

Generally, an employer may only require an employee to submit to a medical exam if the employer needs medical documentation to support an employee’s request for an accommodation, or if the employer has a reasonable belief based on objective evidence that a medical condition will impair an employee’s ability to safely or successfully perform essential job functions.

Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodations

Federal and state laws require an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee or applicant with a disability unless doing so would cause an  undue hardship, such as the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive to provide, in light of the employer’s size, financial resources, and the needs of the business.

A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment, or in the way things are usually done, to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. Reasonable accommodations can include just about anything, from making the workplace wheelchair accessible, to providing a leave of absence, to pairing down an employee’s job duties, to refraining from imposing discipline on an employee while the employee’s medical treatment is allowed to run its course.

An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant wants. If more than one accommodation works, the employer may choose which one to provide. However, an employer may not refuse to provide an accommodations just because it involves some cost.

Providing a lawful reasonable accommodation is a highly complex and fact specific area of employment law. If you have a question whether a reasonable accommodation in your workplace complies with the law, contact the attorneys of Walcheske & Luzi, LLC.

Disability Harrassment

Federal and state law prohibits harassment of an applicant or employee because he or she has a disability, has a history of a disability, or is perceived as having a disability, even if the employee does not have one.

Disability harassment occurs when offensive comments are being made by someone in the workplace about another person’s disability, history of disability, or perceived disability. Disability harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as the employee being fired or demoted. The harasser can be the employee’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

The Walcheske & Luzi Difference

At Walcheske & Luzi, LLC  it is our pledge to provide open and honest advice, taking the time to listen, counsel, and advise. We have been characterized by many as a different kind of law firm, providing a certain type of personalized service, attention to detail, and honesty to its clients that other firms either can’t, don’t, or won’t provide.