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Disability discrimination in the workplace

California employees have the right to work without subjection to discrimination based on their disabilities. Despite the laws in place to discourage this practice, many disabled workers experience varying degrees of bias at work. It is also not uncommon for employees who do not have disabling conditions to experience disability discrimination due to misconceptions

Not all physical and mental impairments are obvious, nor do they all require employers to make long-term accommodations. Some impairments are temporary and invisible. Regardless of the nature of a person's disability, the following actions of employers violate federal law.

Failing to provide reasonable duty and work environment modifications 

Many employers are aware that they must implement reasonable employment practices and environmental adjustments for impaired workers. This includes making their workplaces compliant with the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. They must also have an alternative means for disabled workers to perform their duties. Providing disability accommodations can become an unexpected and unwelcome expense for some employers, which is a common reason some of them ignore the obligation or try to get away with less than the law requires. 

Failing to prevent harassment 

Workers must not make negative remarks, mistreat co-workers or target them when there is a disability or perception of a disability. It is up to employers to take action to prevent offensive jokes, bullying, name-calling and other negative behaviors that can create a toxic and discriminatory work environment. Employers must have policies and procedures in place to address unacceptable employee behavior.

Discriminating against employees with disabled dependents

Employment disability law also prohibits employers from using an employee’s disabled dependent or spouse as a factor in their employment decisions. An employer may believe there are disadvantages to hiring or promoting someone who may need to be off work frequently to take a loved one to doctor appointments or stay home with a sick loved one. Workers who have dependents with disabilities can file a claim for disability discrimination if they feel an employer acted illegally in its treatment of them.

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