Disability Discrimination No Company is Too Big to Play Fair.

Minneapolis Disability Discrimination Attorneys

The law generally prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees because of a disability. In addition, the law requires employers to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations that enable them to work.

Our attorneys are dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights of disabled employees.

About the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law in the United States that was enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in various areas, including employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications.

The ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Here are the main aspects of the ADA:

  • Title I - Employment: Under Title I of the ADA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in various aspects of employment, including hiring, promotion, job assignments, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential job functions, unless it imposes undue hardship on the employer.
  • Title II - Public Services: Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities, including state and local governments. This includes services provided by public transportation, schools, and other government programs. Public entities are required to make their programs and services accessible to individuals with disabilities and provide reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures.
  • Title III - Public Accommodations: Title III addresses discrimination in places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, and retail stores. It requires that these establishments be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Businesses and facilities are expected to remove architectural barriers and provide auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication.
  • Title IV - Telecommunications: Title IV focuses on ensuring that individuals with hearing and speech disabilities have access to telecommunications services. This includes the provision of relay services that facilitate communication through the use of text telephones (TTYs) or other assistive devices.
  • Association Discrimination: The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals based on their association with someone who has a disability. This extends protection to individuals who may face discrimination in employment or other contexts due to their relationship with a person with a disability, such as a spouse, family member, or friend.

The ADA has significantly contributed to fostering inclusivity and equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities across various facets of public life in the United States. It continues to be a vital piece of legislation in promoting the rights and dignity of individuals with disabilities.

Disability Discrimination Can Happen in Many Ways

Disability discrimination in the workplace can manifest in various ways, affecting both the hiring process and the treatment of employees. Here are different ways disability discrimination can occur in the workplace:

  • Hiring Process:
    • Pre-Employment Inquiries: Asking inappropriate questions about an applicant's health or disability during interviews or on job applications.
    • Refusal to Hire: Declining to hire a qualified candidate based on their disability, even when they can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations.
  • Job Assignments and Promotion:
    • Unequal Opportunities: Denying individuals with disabilities equal opportunities for job assignments, promotions, or training.
    • Demotion or Termination: Demoting or terminating an employee based on their disability, rather than assessing their ability to perform the essential job functions.
  • Reasonable Accommodations:
    • Failure to Provide Accommodations: Failing to provide reasonable accommodations that would enable an employee with a disability to perform essential job functions.
    • Undue Hardship Claims: Unjustly claiming undue hardship as a reason for not providing necessary accommodations.
  • Harassment:
    • Verbal or Physical Abuse: Subjecting employees with disabilities to offensive comments, jokes, or physical mistreatment related to their disability.
    • Creating a Hostile Work Environment: Allowing a work environment that is hostile or intimidating for individuals with disabilities.
  • Retaliation:
    • Retaliation for Asserting Rights: Punishing employees for asserting their rights under disability discrimination laws, such as filing a complaint or requesting accommodations.
  • Termination:
    • Wrongful Termination: Terminating an employee based on their disability, rather than addressing performance or conduct issues in a fair and unbiased manner.
    • Lack of Job Security: Providing less job security or advancement opportunities to employees with disabilities.
  • Inaccessible Facilities and Policies:
    • Physical Barriers: Failing to make the workplace physically accessible for individuals with disabilities.
    • Inaccessible Policies: Implementing policies that disproportionately impact employees with disabilities, such as inflexible attendance policies.
  • Perception and Stereotyping:
    • Regarded as Having a Disability: Discriminating against individuals who are perceived as having a disability, even if they do not have one or if the impairment does not substantially limit major life activities.
    • Stereotyping: Making assumptions or decisions based on stereotypes about the abilities or limitations of individuals with disabilities.

Who Is Protected from Disability Discrimination?

You may be protected under the ADA and MHRA if you have an actual disability, have a record of disability, or your employer regards you as disabled. An actual disability involves a physical or mental impairment that significantly affects a person in one or more major life activities (e.g., walking, talking, seeing, hearing, reading, manual tasks, thinking, or learning). Since the ADA was amended in 2008, major life activities can also include major bodily functions (e.g., involving the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive system, circulatory system, reproductive system, and so on). Thus, even impairments that are episodic, invisible, or in remission might qualify as disabilities under the law. Finally, the law also protects people who are not disabled but have an association or relationship with someone who is.

What Are Reasonable Accommodations & When Are They Required?

"Reasonable accommodations" involve actions an employer can take to make it possible for a person with a disability to do their job; the job for which they applied; or potentially, another job. If a person needs an accommodation to become or stay employed, the law requires an employer to provide it so long as doing so will not be an undue burden on the employer. The purpose of the employer’s duty to provide reasonable accommodations is to ensure that people with disabilities are able to find, keep, and enjoy the privileges and benefits of employment.

Reasonable accommodations can include, for example:

  • Physical changes to the workplace
  • Job restructuring
  • Modified work schedules
  • Reassignments to available positions
  • Leaves of absence

Determination of what accommodations might be available, whether they are reasonable, and whether they create an undue burden on the employer will depend on the facts of each case. Regardless, employees and employers should work together by engaging in an interactive process to determine the answers to these questions. The law may not look kindly on the failure to make a good-faith effort during this process.

What Does the Law Allow an Employer to Ask About an Employee’s or Job Applicant’s Disability?

In general, an employer may only ask medical questions or require a medical exam if the employer needs medical documentation to support the employee’s request for an accommodation or if the employer is concerned the employee may not be able to perform their job safely or successfully due to a medical condition. During the hiring process, an employer may not ask a job applicant whether they are disabled or about the nature or severity of their disability. Nor may the employer require them to provide this information. Similarly, the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information and restricts employers from soliciting information about a job applicant’s or employee’s genetic services, genetic tests, or family medical history.

Examples of potential disability discrimination include:

  • Your doctor diagnosed you with a medical problem but says you can still perform your job with a little help. Your employer makes little (if any) effort to see if they can provide such help and decides to fire you.

  • You used to have a mental or physical impairment and you are denied a job, denied a promotion, reassigned, or fired because of a record of this prior disability.

  • You are at a job interview and a potential employer asks you questions related to your actual or perceived physical or mental impairments.

  • A potential employer offers you a job, requires you to submit to a medical examination without justification, and then denies you the job based on the examination.

  • An employer requires you to reimburse them for the costs of providing a medical examination or reasonable accommodation.

Send us a message or call (877) 344-4628 to speak with our disability discrimination lawyers in Minneapolis.

  • Nichols Kaster obtained a successful jury verdict for a BNSF railroad employee on a Federal Railroad Safety Act retaliation claim.

  • Nichols Kaster obtained a jury verdict for a task force Special Agent in South Dakota on sexual harassment and retaliation claims.

  • Nichols Kaster confirmed the standard protecting workers from retaliation for verbally reporting to employer violation of wage and hour law in front of the Supreme Court.

  • Nichols Kaster obtained the second-largest settlement ever paid by the City of Saint Paul in an employment suit.

  • Nichols Kaster obtained a jury verdict for a St. Jude medical device sales representative on a retaliation claim and defeated the company’s counterclaim for violation of a non-compete agreement.

Compassion. Strength. Experience. A Voice for Employees and Consumers When They Need it Most

Our team of passionate, talented professionals work every day on advancing and protecting people's rights. No entity is too big to play fair, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm to discuss the details of your situation.