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Disability discrimination in the hiring process

Looking for a job is not always easy. The position you desire may require you to earn a college degree, obtain special certification, or acquire training or experience in other ways. You may feel especially proud of those accomplishments if you are living with a disability. Like many in Florida who are seeking work, you may prefer potential employers to see you for your achievements and qualifications instead of measuring you based on your disability.

In fact, if an employer refuses to hire you or otherwise treats you unfairly because of your disability, he or she is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is true that the ADA is a complex law and that many employers do not fully understand it. However, this does not mean it is acceptable for a manager or business owner to deny you a job for which you are the best qualified applicant.

Off-limits questions

It is the responsibility of the person interviewing you for a job to know and understand the protections the ADA affords and the limitations these protections place on the interview process. For example, a potential employer may not ask you about your disability even if it is obvious, such as if you use a wheelchair. Neither can the interviewer ask if your disability may prevent you from completing certain aspects of the job. Instead, the questions should focus on your abilities and how you can perform these tasks.

You can recognize if interviewers are violating your rights under the ADA if they do any of the following:

  • Ask you questions about your physical or mental health that they do not ask of every other candidate for the job
  • Ask if you require accommodations unless you have revealed your disability or it is apparent that you have a disability, such as if you are using a wheelchair
  • Ask about your past medical history or treatment for specific diseases or conditions
  • Ask questions about your mental health or treatment for drug or alcohol addiction
  • Inquire about the number of days you missed work for illness at your previous job

An employer who understands ADA laws will instead ask you and all other applicants about your ability to perform the essential tasks of the job, how you would complete those tasks and whether you can adhere to the company's attendance policies. If you have an interview that you feel centered on your disabilities, you may have questions about whether the employer based the decision not to hire you on discriminatory factors. Speaking with a skilled attorney may provide you with answers to those questions.

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