Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and RCW 49.60.030, the Washington State Freedom from Discrimination law, employees with physical and mental disabilities have the right to a safe, hostility-free workplace. That means that any form of discrimination, along with retaliating against an employee or group of employees for reporting acts of discrimination they’ve experienced, is illegal.
A hostile work environment is defined as any work environment where the discrimination that occurs can reasonably be believed to cause enough mental and emotional stress to an employee or group of employees that it interferes with their ability to fulfill their job duties or advance in their careers. There is not a specific legal definition of a hostile work environment – whether or not a workplace is hostile is determined by whether or not a neutral, reasonable third party would consider it to be so after reviewing the behavior that has occurred within.
Examples of Disability Discrimination
Discrimination in the workplace takes many forms. The following are examples of workplace discrimination that could be considered to be part of a hostile work environment.
- Harassment. This is any type of comment, mockery, unwanted physical contact, joking, or interference with job duties based on the victim’s physical or mental disability.
- Refusal to hire. Refusing to hire an individual for no reason other than his or her disability may be considered to be discrimination. Similarly, asking illegal questions to a prospective employee during an interview may be considered to be disability discrimination. Questions about the interviewee’s medical history or the cause of his or her disability are illegal.
- Refusal to promote. Like refusing to hire an individual, refusing to promote him or her because of his or her disability may be considered to be discrimination.
- Failing to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is a small change in the work schedule or job duties made to accommodate an individual employee’s needs because of his or her disability. Examples of reasonable accommodations are wheelchair ramps, sign language interpreters for deaf employees, and readers for blind employees. Reasonable accommodations are required for most employers under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Under this act, an employer must provide such accommodations for its employees unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the company. An undue hardship can mean that the cost of the accommodations is too great, that it requires more resources than the company has, or that making such accommodations would be dangerous to the disabled employees and their colleagues.
Hostile Work Environment Attorneys Can Help
If you’ve been subject to a hostile work environment because of your disability, you deserve justice. Call HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at 206-838-2504 to speak with one of the knowledgeable employment lawyers on our team. At HKM Employment Attorneys LLP, we understand Washington and federal discrimination laws, and we’re here to fight for your right to a hostility-free work environment. Don’t allow discrimination to prevent you from advancing in your career – give us a call today to get started on working toward a healthy, productive solution for your case.