Not hired for a position because of a disability?Fired from a job because of a disability? Passed up for a promotion or raise at work because of a disability?
Those are just a few general examples of how Washington disability discrimination can manifest itself in the workplace. And unfortunately, this type of discrimination happens more than you think. Whether the discrimination is subtle or obvious, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) provide important workplace protections for persons with disabilities. In addition to providing Washington workplace protections both those laws (and others) also strictly prohibit employers from engaging in any type of disability discrimination and places an affirmative obligation on employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees when possible.
That’s right, state and national disability laws not only protect against it, but also demand that workplaces are able to accommodate disabled workers.
But before any of these protections can be triggered, a person must be recognized as disabled in the state of Washington. A disability is defined as an actual physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Because the definition of a major life activity can widely vary among individuals and age groups, this is generally (but not always) limited to things that are a basic component of one’s life. Determined on a case-by-case basis, here’s a look at where certain issues and ailments fall when it comes to disability coverage by the ADA.
ADA Recognized Disability
2. Confinement to a wheelchair
3. Learning disabilities
4. Serious bodily injuries
Quite the list, right? The best place to start in defining a disability is not with your employer’s HR department but with your physician. Some physical issues that are not recognized by the ADA include things like: alcoholism, drug abuse, nearsightedness and hard of hearing. The more documented an issue is as well as how it affects work-related activities, the more likely your issues will be covered and protected.
The reality is that in almost all of the employment discrimination cases, the attribute that an employee is experiencing discrimination for (i.e. gender, sex, race), has absolutely nothing to do with his or her ability to do the job at hand. If you feel like you are being discriminated against because of your disability as an employee or potential employee, getting in touch with a Washington employment attorney is always a recommended course of action.
As with most workplace scenarios, make sure you try to bring your issues and concerns to the attention of your employer before the situation gets out of hand. In many cases, employers are happy to work with their employees, but an employer only knows what you tell them. When dealing with a disability in Washington, whether permanent or temporary, you already have a lot on your plate and workplace problems should not be one of them.