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Discrimination against the disabled in the workplace

As New York workers may know, federal law protects employees from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The term disability has multiple meanings and includes individuals whose activities are limited due to a mental or physical disability. Individuals who have had a disabling illness in the past, which is under control, may be considered disabled. Someone with a type of disability that lasts for six months or longer may claim disability status. Employers are unable to discriminate against the disabled.

While undue expense or hardship may limit an employer's obligation, the employer is generally required to make suitable accommodations for the disabled individual to perform their work. If several means of accommodation are available, the employer may choose one that suits both his capability and the employee's needs.

Another form of employment discrimination that is forbidden by law may surface when an employee has a family member or spouse who is disabled. Discrimination may affect aspects of employment starting with the hiring process, promotions and harassment. While the latter may be the result of a supervisor or co-worker's remarks, random non-serious events may not be considered discrimination.

When an individual applies for a job they may not be asked medical questions, be forced to take an examination. The employer might ask the applicant if they are able to perform the work without assistance. Once the job is offered, the employer may ask medical questions and ask the individual to submit to an exam provided this is asked of all applicants. If a worker feels he or she was discriminated against in the workplace or during the hiring process, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney. The attorney may help by advising the individual of his or her rights pertaining to disability discrimination and help them address the issue.

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