Disability Discrimination and the Workplace
When it comes to employment law, the subject of discrimination is very clear. While there are many types of discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) strictly prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals based on a disability.
Disability discrimination is prohibited during any and all of the following:
- The application process
- The hiring process
- The review and consideration of individuals for promotion
- Determining pay and benefits
- Discharge and termination
Therefore if you, as an employer or an employee, need to consult with an attorney regarding a disability discrimination case or claim, contact a Washington employment law attorney at our firm today. The attorneys at our firm are not only versed in employment law, it is what we do every day, and is the full focus of our entire law firm. With over 40 years of experience, we have the knowledge and the record of success you need in legal counsel.
Video on Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation
Disability Discrimination under Washington Law
While the federal ADA does protect against disabled employees, the Washington Law Against Discrimination defines “disability” in a broader sense to cover a greater number of potential impairments and protect a larger number of employees. WLAD defines “disability” as the presence of a sensory, physical, or mental impairment that:
- Is medically cognizable or diagnosable; or
- Exists as a record or history (previously diagnosed or has a history of disability); or
- Is perceived to exist whether or not it exists in fact.
“Impairment” is further defined as any physiological disorder, or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: Neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, including speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitor-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine; or any mental, developmental, traumatic, or psychological disorder, including but not limited to cognitive limitation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
Additionally, Washington law covers temporary disabilities and disabilities that may be mitigated or alleviated by medication, both of which are often not covered by federal law. Finally Washington state law does not require a condition or impairment to impact any major life activity or your ability to perform your job in order to be considered a disability as the ADA does.
Conditions that are not protected by Washington law include personality traits (i.e. irritability), certain physical traits (such as being left-handed), or use of illegal drugs. Recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, however, are considered to have a disability and are protected, however are still expected to adhere to proper behavioral standards in the workplace.
Potential Disability Discrimination Claims
In cases of disability discrimination, the law actually goes beyond the hiring, promotion, pay and termination processes. Federal and Washington state laws require employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees on a variety of fronts.
Any of following circumstances can be grounds for a disability discrimination claim:
- Failure to hire someone due to a disability
- Failure to promote someone due to a disability
- Taking an adverse employment action against an employee with a disability
- Failure to reasonably accommodate someone with a disability
- Termination due to a disability
- Retaliation because of receiving disability accommodations or because of requesting disability accommodations
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your specific case, you can be certain that our firm has the extensive experience you will need in all aspects of employment discrimination including the negotiation, litigation and full resolution of disability discrimination claims in both state and federal courts. Whether you are an employee, or potential employee, suffering workplace discrimination as a result of a disability or you are an employer facing allegations of disability discrimination our firm is here to help.
Contact a Washington employment law attorney at HKM Employment Attorneys today to schedule a private consultation and review of your case.