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How to respond to disability discrimination

Having a disability should not limit your right to work in a fair environment. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees with disabilities from discrimination. It also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations.

Unfortunately, you may still face disability discrimination, even though it is illegal. Here is some general guidance on how to respond to discrimination and bring a claim against your employer. 

Determine if you are covered

Not every medical condition counts as a disability under the ADA. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the law covers disabilities under three main categories:

  • Physical and mental conditions that significantly hinder a core life activity, such as talking, walking, hearing, seeing or learning.
  • A history of disabilities, such as cancers in remission.
  • Real or perceived physical or mental impairments that are temporary and minor.

Additionally, the ADA only applies to businesses that have at least 15 employees. 

Document everything

The first step is to collect the facts. Is a co-worker making jokes about your disability? What about a manager denying you a reasonable accommodation? Whatever happens to you that you believe to be discriminatory, make sure you write it down. Include all the details, including the location, date and time. If there are text messages, emails or other types of correspondence, take screenshots and make copies. 

Talk to witnesses

If anyone is present when the discrimination takes place, get his or her contact information. Having coworkers, customers or even superiors back up your claims can help bolster your case. 

File a complaint, claim and/or lawsuit

Once you get legal advice, you can determine what your next steps should be. This may involve filing an internal complaint, submitting a charge to the EEOC or pursuing a lawsuit against your employer. You may need to follow all three steps or just a few. 

The bottom line is you deserve to assert your rights and fight for the protections you have under the law.

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