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Disability discrimination in the workplace: What can I do?

If you have a disability, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 61 million adults live with a disability in the United States. You deserve to be treated with respect, and if you believe that your employer is discriminating against you, you can file a complaint against them with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Identifying discrimination

The federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against those with a disability. But what exactly does discrimination mean? An employer may be discriminating against you if:

  • They are not paying you like your other coworkers
  • They ask about your disability, family medical history or genetic information before they offer you a job
  • They are not giving you the same privileges as your coworkers (training, promotion and social activities)
  • They mistreat you or allow your coworkers to do so
  • They harass you or allow your coworkers to do so
  • They ask improper questions about your disability
  • They don’t provide you with reasonable accommodation unless it results in undue hardship

You must note that you cannot take legal action against your employer just because they are not friendly. For a complaint to be valid, they, or their employees, must have made hurtful or insulting comments about you.

Filing a complaint

If you are a victim of discrimination in the workplace, you must file a complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of the date of discrimination. If your workplace has less than 15 employees but more than 6, you can file a claim with Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) within 300 days of the date of discrimination. You can also ask someone else to file the complaint for you.

The process

After the EEOC receives your complaint, they may offer you and your employer to go to mediation, which is a method in which a neutral party will help you resolve the dispute. If the EEOC does not offer mediation or mediation does not work, your employer will have to send the EEOC a written answer to your complaint. After that, the EEOC will start an investigation and carry out interviews with your employer and other witnesses. If they find a case of discrimination, they will ask you and your employer to resolve the situation. If that does not work, the EEOC will file a lawsuit against your employer. You can also file your own lawsuit if the EEOC does not do it.

Doing justice

If you win the lawsuit, you will receive money damages. Also, the EEOC could help you get promoted or make other workplace changes. By filing a lawsuit, you will stop your employer from discriminating against you and others in the future. You should not tolerate this behavior, and it is your right to seek justice for it.