Ethical, Innovative And Caring

What qualifies as a disability in workplace discrimination?

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Workplace Discrimination

You deserve to be safe in your place of work. This means that you shouldn’t be subjected to discrimination or harassment, and when you are, your employer should step in to protect you. But when they don’t, which happens all the time in the Houston area, your career, your reputation, your financial stability and your emotional well-being can all take a hit.

This can be especially difficult if you’re someone who suffers from a disability and who already struggles to find work. That’s why if you’ve been harmed by an adverse employment action, such as reassignment, demotion, or termination, due to your disability, you should consider filing a workplace discrimination lawsuit against your employer.

Defining disability

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which provides workplace protections to disabled individuals, there are three kinds of disability. This includes:

  • A physical or mental limitation that significantly limits your ability to engage in a major life activity such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or using other bodily functions.
  • You have a history of a serious medical condition that substantially limited your ability to engage in a major life activity.
  • You have characteristics that lead individuals to believe that you suffer or have suffered from a medical condition that substantially impacts your ability to live your life, such as scarring.

These categories are broad, which gives you a lot of room to argue that your medical condition, history, or physical characteristics qualify you for protection. Some of the medical conditions that are shielded by this law include:

  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Paralysis
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Autism

There are other qualifying conditions, of course, so carefully consider how your history, condition, or your employer’s perception of your condition fit with the law. You might find it helpful to seek out a current medical opinion as to your condition and document how your co-workers treat you based on your appearance and their overall perception of your condition. This is evidence that could be key to your workplace discrimination case.

Consider seeking reasonable accommodations

If you have a qualifying disability and your employer has 15 or more employees, then ADA protections kick in. This includes a requirement that your employer consider providing you with reasonable accommodations when requested. It’s important to note that your employer isn’t necessarily required to provide you with those accommodations, though, as they may be justified in denying them if they can show that the accommodation would create an undue hardship for them.

However, if you suffer from a disability, then it’s worth asking for the additional support that you need. And, if your employer denies your request, you might have more evidence to support a workplace discrimination claim.

Fight to protect your interests after workplace discrimination

You certainly don’t deserve to be discriminated against at work. But when you face disability discrimination, the burden is on you to take action to remedy the situation. If you don’t act and instead minimize what’s been done to you, you could suffer irreparable harm to your career and financial damage that can be hard to recover from.