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Discrimination and job-related disabilities

It's illegal to discriminate for many reasons in the Unites States, one of which is on the basis of disability. However, this type of discrimination is, at times, a bit more controversial than others. While it's obvious that discrimination based on race shouldn't be allowed, there are sometimes questions about discrimination based on disabilities.

The issue is that some disabilities may impact a person's actual ability to do the job. For this reason, employers are allowed to take job-related disabilities into account when hiring.

Many times, this is very clear-cut. If you're hiring someone to work in a warehouse and he or she needs to be able to lift 50 pounds, for example, a person with a disability that prevents him or her from lifting anything wouldn't be able to do the job.

However, the lines do get a bit blurry. For example, if an employer is hiring an office worker who has a hearing-related disability, the worker may be able to do most of the job -- typing on the computer, reading emails, filing papers, and all the rest. But the employer could argue that the disability will make it harder for the worker to communicate with other employees in the office. While this may not make work impossible, it could be an inconvenience that reduces productivity and communication, which can then lead to a lose in revenue. Does the employer still have to hire that person?

These situations can be quite complicated, with many factors to be considered, so it's important to know all of the legal options you have in Florida if you feel you're being unfairly discriminated against.

Source: Slate, "Disabilities and Inabilities," Michael Kinsley, accessed May 17, 2016

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