For more than 20 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act has made it unlawful for employers to discriminate against workers who have disabilities, but this kind of discrimination is still all too common in Minnesota and around the nation. Workers are still denied employment opportunities, wrongfully fired or otherwise mistreated due to disability discrimination.
Last month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it had filed charges against Presbyterian Healthcare Associates Corp., claiming that the large health care company unlawfully refused to hire a qualified applicant simply because of his physical handicap. The lawsuit seeks back pay for the man, as well as punitive damages and other remedies.
According to the EEOC, the man suffered an injury to his left knee some years ago, leaving it permanently impaired. He later took part in a phlebotomist training program and a seven-week internship with the hospital chain Presbyterian Healthcare, which offered him a full-time, permanent position upon completion of his training. When filling out paperwork as part of the hiring process, the man revealed his disability and the company rescinded its job offer, according to the EEOC's complaint.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits employment discrimination against workers merely because they are disabled, and the EEOC is charged with enforcing this law. The ADA applies to federal, state and local government employers, and to private employers with more than 15 employees. However, to be protected by the ADA, the worker's disability must be considered a substantial impairment under the law.
The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers in order to allow disabled employees to perform their jobs. During the hiring-screening process, employers cannot legally exclude disabled applicants if they can perform the essential functions of the job.
There are also Minnesota laws that protect the disabled from discrimination. No one who can do the work should be denied employment opportunities simply because of a disability.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "EEOC Sues Presbyterian Healthcare for Disability Discrimination," March 26, 2013