Disability and Discrimination Law
Discrimination is most often equated with racism or sexism. And while these biases are still widespread in our society, many people ignore or downplay the large determining role that ableism has in the lives of people with physical or intellectual disabilities. Ableism is discrimination against people with disabilities.
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), any individual with a “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity” such as walking, breathing, learning, hearing or speaking, is afforded legal protection from harassment. The act also mandates that an employer must take measures to accommodate individuals with a disability.
Knowing Your Rights
Disability comes in various forms. There are many factors that impede our capacity to live a normal life without requiring accommodation. Disabilities protected under the ADA include debilitating diseases such as cancer and HIV, behavioral and mental health illnesses such as bipolar disorder and depression, chronic conditions including migraines and carpal tunnel syndrome, and more. Individuals can also be discriminated against on the basis of a perceived disability, or if they are associated with someone who has a disability.
Some examples of discrimination due to disability include:
• Failing to provide an accessible work environment for someone in a wheelchair
• Passing someone over for a promotion because they once took time off to deal with a depressive episode
• Denying an employee paid medical leave due to fibromyalgia or a similar chronic pain condition
• Denying housing to someone because they live with a service animal
• Not providing braille translations or ASL interpretation services
In short, any incident of discrimination or harassment due to a disability — defined as a situation that intimidates, insults or impedes someone — is covered under the Act. One of the challenges of proving a case of disability discrimination in court is that concrete evidence must be provided first. Secondly, you must prove that disability was the sole cause of the harassment. This can often be hard to do.
How a Disability Lawyer Helps
The role of a disability lawyer is not limited to helping people apply for benefits under SSI and SSDI. If you have been unfairly discriminated against due to a disability, a discrimination lawyer may be able to help. A skilled attorney specializing in discrimination disability work can help you assess your case and determine the best way to proceed. This can include representing you in civil proceedings against a landlord, employer or other third party, or attending meditation to avoid the hassle and expense of a trial.
Many individuals who consider pursuing a discrimination lawsuit may also qualify for benefits under one of two federal programs from the Social Security Administration. Lisa M. Ritacco and her team can provide a number of useful services to anyone in this situation, from helping you file a claim with Social Security to recommending a disability discrimination lawyer who can represent your interests in civil court.
Contact our office directly to learn more about what we may be able to do for you.