Since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990, both private-sector and public-sector workers have broadly enjoyed the right to apply for employment, work and navigate the termination process free from discrimination based on their disabilities.
Yet, simply because disability-based discrimination is prohibited by law doesn’t mean that this practice has been eradicated from the American workforce. For example, earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against a non-profit organization after it allegedly discriminated against a worker due to her breast cancer.
Although many people think of obvious physical impairments – like blindness or amputation – when they hear the word “disability,” it is important to remember that disability is legally defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity. As a result, both chronic and acute illnesses may render someone temporarily or permanently disabled under the law.
Deciding whether to take action
If you either believe or straight-up know that you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace due to an illness-based disability, it’s important to explore your legal options. Both federal and state law feature protections for workers with disabilities. Yet, having legal rights doesn’t do someone much good if they don’t understand what they are and/or how to exercise them effectively.
By exploring your legal options, you can better ensure that you’re able to make informed choices about filing a complaint and/or taking legal action against your employer. Whether you ultimately choose to act or not, by learning about your options, you’ll be empowered by the opportunities that knowledge of your own rights afford.