working disabled woman

5 Signs of Disability Discrimination at Work

By Tom McKinney
NJ Employment Attorney

Despite the many federal, state, and local laws that protect disabled individuals at work, disability discrimination still occurs at workplaces across the state and country. In some cases, the discrimination is subtle and shrouded; in others, it is blatant and unapologetic. 

If you are a disabled worker, it is important to know that you have powerful protections against discriminatory behavior and policies on the job. The following outlines common signs of disability discrimination in the workplace. If you are experiencing or noticing any of them, you can take action by reaching out to an employment law firm for help.

1. Disability Harassment

Sadly, harassment by employers and other coworkers is something that many disabled individuals have to put up with at work. The harassment can be verbal, physical, or both — and it may or may not be enacted to cause harm. 

In fact, many who harass disabled workers claim to only be joking around. What they do not understand is that these jokes are actually illegal and open the company up to serious liability.

2. Denied Accommodation Requests

Disabled workers have the right to request reasonable accommodations from their employers. Employers who care about their disabled employees and the law act within a reasonable period of time to furnish the accommodations their workers need. 

However, some employers simply put these requests on the back burner or disregard them entirely because they are too costly or time-consuming. This is illegal. At that point, the disabled employee then finds themselves at a disadvantage, meaning they must seek legal advice to enjoy the workplace they are entitled to.

3. Retaliation for Speaking Up

Disabled individuals have significant rights in the workplace. However, employers and managers have the power to make disabled employees’ lives miserable by effectively punishing them for speaking up for themselves. 

Some workplaces foster a culture of silent suffering in which disabled workers keep quiet about discriminatory treatment and lack of accommodations for fear of retaliation. Common forms of retaliation include cut hours, skipped promotions, and poor assignments.

4. Demotion or Termination Based on a Disability

Demoting and terminating employees are difficult tasks that employees and supervisors must regularly engage in. When doing so, however, they must avoid using an employee’s disability as a reason — except in very few circumstances. 

For example, if an employee becomes disabled to the point that they can no longer safely and adequately do their job, the employer may reasonably remove them from that employment. However, if an already disabled employee is demoted or fired simply because of their disability, they can take effective legal action against their employer. 

5. Skipped Promotion or Raise Due to Disability

Nothing boosts employee morale like a raise or a promotion. Both demonstrate that the company is pleased with a worker’s performance and that the worker should expect to be gainfully employed for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, disabled individuals find themselves routinely skipped over for promotions and raises. This is true even in cases where they have earned the right to advance in position and pay. 

There is a way to avoid this scenario. Disabled individuals can often easily demonstrate that they deserve a promotion or raise by comparing their performance records with other promoted workers and demanding answers. 

An employer must provide a viable reason that a disabled individual should not be promoted or granted a raise. If they cannot do so, the employer is likely guilty of discrimination. 

Experienced Employment Law Attorneys

If you are facing disability discrimination at work, contact the NJ Employment Lawyers, LLC. We are ready to review your case and potentially fight for your right to enjoy a New Jersey workplace free of disability discrimination.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is a skilled employment law attorney with New Jersey Employment Lawyers LLC. He has a track record of success in all areas of employment law, including sexual harassment, discrimination, harassment, wrongful discharge, whistleblower claims and hostile work environment claims. Besides litigation, Tom handles severance agreements and severance package reviews/negotiations for over 100 people each year. If you have any questions regarding this blog, contact Tom here.