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Sterling Employment Law

Understanding disability discrimination-Part II

Federal law forbids disability discrimination in all 50 states. In an earlier post, our readers saw that employers in Michigan are not allowed to discriminate against an individual based on disability.

Workplace discrimination also means that a person is not allowed to harass another person because of that person's disability. That means that no employer is allowed to harass a person because that person has a history of disability. The law also forbids an employer from discriminating against an individual on the grounds of mental impairment that is lasting for 180 days or more. Disability discrimination also means making an offensive comment about a person based on disability. However, the law does not prevent simple teasing or any isolated incident that is not considered serious.

The law also forbids harassment that creates a hostile work environment and leads to an adverse decision regarding work, for instance, if an employee is terminated or demoted based on disability, which is regarded as disability discrimination. The harasser may be a colleague or the supervisor. In the previous post, our readers saw that an employer is also required to provide a reasonable accommodation to the disabled employee. That accommodation should help the employee to perform the job successfully. One way to do that is by making the environment accessible for all employees in wheelchairs.

The law also requires that an employer provide an interpreter for the employee, if that employee cannot hear or speak. Anti-discrimination laws do not require that an employer provide benefits to an employee who is caring for a disabled member of family; however, the Family and Medical Leave Act may require an employer to do so.

Source: EEOC.gov, Disability Discrimination, Accessed on Aug. 15, 2015

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