Discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by many different state and federal laws. Minnesota workers cannot be discriminated against in their jobs based on their age, gender, race, religious affiliation or a number of other protected classifications. When discrimination threatens the work of a person, they may have options under the law to protect their rights.

Disability discrimination is a major problem that can affect men and women who may have to face medical or intellectual hurdles just to function in modern society. Disability discrimination can prevent a person from achieving promotions or from getting preferred work assignments. It can occur when individuals do not actually suffer from disabilities but are perceived to suffer from such conditions.

However, not all wrongful acts against disabled or perceived disabled workers in the employment context are discrimination. A person may suffer harassment at the hands of their supervisor, co-worker or other work associate. If that harassment is based on the victim’s disability or perceived disability, then that harassment may be actionable under the law.

Harassment is often not identified by a single act but rather by the systematic treatment of a person to inappropriate and harassing comments that renders their work environment hostile. When a person cannot work in their place of employment because of the damaging comments that are made to them and about them, they may have a claim for disability harassment at work. If those comments result in the individual suffering an adverse employment action, they may have a claim based on discrimination.

Workers should not take disability harassment lightly. While crude or offhand jokes may not constitute harassment, persistent attacks on a person for their disability or perceived disability may warrant legal action and the protection of the victim’s rights.