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How disability discrimination often works

When you think of disability discrimination, it's important to note that it can be different than other types of discrimination--like that based on gender or race--because a disability can realistically mean that someone can't do a specific job. That person may simply not be physically capable of performing the actions necessary to the job, so refusing to hire him or her based on the disability isn't automatically discrimination.

For example, it could be impossible for someone with an impairment that means he or she cannot walk to work as a mobile vendor in a stadium, where walking up and down the stairs to bring beverages to people is required.

The way that disability discrimination often works is when someone is harassed due to that disability. Even though the person can do the job just like anyone else, he or she is not treated the same.

For example, harassment in Florida could include:

-- Co-workers who make offensive remarks about that person-- Jokes that are told at the person's expense-- The intentional practice of leaving the person out of things--like a work retreat-- Anything else that makes for a hostile work environment

It's worth noting that minor things are overlooked in some cases; one joke that doesn't seem serious or dangerous, despite being offensive, may not be prohibited. Continued jokes that are serious and create an atmosphere where the person can't work are much different.

Those who have been subjected to disability discrimination must know all of the legal options that they have. This is true for all types of disabilities, regardless of how long they may last.

Source: EEOC, "Disability Discrimination," accessed Dec. 21, 2015

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