U.S. federal and Pennsylvania state laws bar employers from discriminating against disabled or handicapped employees. These protections kick in when an employee demonstrates a severe impairment. In the face of these protections, however, there are hostile work environments where disabled employees suffer harassment and discrimination. To preserve their legal rights, employees who suffer discrimination should consider reaching out to a proficient employment attorney.
HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a highly rated law firm that specializes in employee representation. Combining a local touch with a national presence, HKM Employment Attorneys ensure that disabled employees receive fair and equal treatment under the law. If you are a disabled employee who suffered unlawful employment discrimination, contact us today to learn about your legal options.
U.S. Federal Disability Protection
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents companies from discriminating against disabled workers. In other words, disabled or handicapped workers deserve equal treatment in the workplace. For organizations with 15 or more employees, the ADA prohibits adverse treatment based on disability, handicap or similar impairment.
In order to qualify for a disability or handicap under the ADA, an employee must demonstrate a qualifying impairment. Specifically, the employee must:
- Have a significant mental or physical issue that impairs his or her ability to conduct certain basic activities;
- Provide a medical or similar record that indicates a significant impairment
- Show that he or she is regarded as having a significant impairment.
If a worker satisfies the three-part test above, then he or she enjoys freedom from employment discrimination under the ADA.
Pennsylvania State Disability Protection
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) provides a safety net for disabled employees. Under the PHRA, Pennsylvania attempts to foster an equal opportunity atmosphere for employment. The PHRA applies to organizations large and small, including all entities with at least four employees.
In terms of disabilities and handicaps, specifically, the PHRA employs the three-part test for impairment required under the ADA. Though there is an important stipulation under the PHRA. Illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance does not qualify as a disability, handicap or impairment in Pennsylvania. Essentially, Pennsylvania law excludes the use of illegal drugs from the state definition of disability.
The PHRA does allow companies and entities to give preferential treatment to disabled or handicapped employees. Stated otherwise, it is legal to prioritize the employment of disabled or handicapped employees. It is also illegal to downgrade an employee based on his or her disability or handicap.
Reach Out to a Pennsylvania Employment Attorney Today
If you are a disabled employee who suffered employment discrimination in Pennsylvania, you can turn to HKM Employment Attorneys to pursue legal action against your current or former employer. Featuring wide-ranging experience and capabilities in the disability discrimination arena, HKM Employment Attorneys will fight to protect your federal and state rights. If you need legal help with disability discrimination, contact us today for an initial consultation.