John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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Understanding what disability discrimination looks like

No matter the characteristics of an individual, obtaining a good and fulfilling career in a safe and supportive workplace should be available to all those seeking employment. Residents in Minnesota who struggle with disabilities often face struggles such as the constraints that their disability includes. Despite being constrained mentally or physically, employees should not face unemployment or termination due to their disabilities. Disability discrimination is a serious issue that could cause a hostile work environment or even the unlawful discharge of an employee.

Not being hired due to a disability is a serious form of employment discrimination and could result in a cause of action. Disability discrimination comes in various forms, but they all stem from employees being treated differently due to their disability, perceived disability or other characteristics associated with a type of disability.

Discrimination could also come in its most obvious form, which is explicit discrimination of an employee or potential employee based on his or her disability. This could be verbal statements, restriction on job assignments, being fired, not being considered for a promotion or not receiving the same training as other employees. Furthermore, discrimination could come in a harassing form, which is through statements and actions that relate to the disability of the employee.

If a potential employer asks about current and past medical conditions or requires that an employee take a medical exam, this could be a type of discrimination depending on how they are asked and how the information is used. It is best to speak with a legal professional about such situations to determine if wrongdoing has occurred.

Lastly, the work environment itself could be a form of discrimination. Keeping or causing barriers that interfere with the movement of some employees could be classified as discrimination. Also, refusing to provide accommodations for those with disabilities may be considered disability discrimination.

Understanding how disability discrimination looks allows those who suffer it or witness it to take action. It is important to report these occurrences to ensure a hostile work environment is not occurring and all employees experience proper and equal treatment. A cause of action might be the proper legal remedy for those who are subjected to disability discrimination, and they should seek advice about moving forward with such a claim.

Source: Examiner, "Disability discrimination in the workplace," Steve Spiegel, June 11, 2009

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