Philadelphia Disability Discrimination law firm serving pennsylvania and new jersey

Individuals with disabilities are entitled to the same civil rights as all other Americans. Within the employment sector, both federal and state laws require employers to provide equal opportunities for an applicant and/or employee with a disability. In other words, discrimination based on disability is prohibited.

If you believe that you are dealing with employment discrimination based on a disability, it is vital to contact an employment attorney who can determine your rights and remedies.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. The ADA applies to employers who employ 15 or more employees.

The ADA is an extensive body of legislation, covering a wide variety of circumstances; however, in order for any portion of the ADA to protect a person, he/she must have a “disability.” Under the ADA, an individual is “disabled” if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment. In certain circumstances, the ADA protects someone who has a relationship or association with a person with a disability.

The ADA requires that employers provide qualified persons with disabilities with an equal opportunity to access the same opportunities and benefits offered to those without disabilities. This means that employers may not discriminate based on a person’s disability. For example, during the hiring process, an employer may not overlook an otherwise qualified person who is capable of performing the job functions with or without an accommodation based on the person’s disability. Further, employers cannot discriminate an employee with a disability in employment-related matters, such as benefits offered and training opportunities.

In addition to prohibiting discrimination, the ADA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations for the known disabilities of otherwise qualified individuals. Under the ADA, a “reasonable accommodation” includes making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; and job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities. An example of a reasonable accommodation is providing an appropriate desk for an employee in a wheelchair.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) prohibits discrimination against multiple classes of people, including discrimination based on handicap or disability. The PHRA applies to employers who employ 4 or more employees.

New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) also prohibits discrimination against multiple classes of people, including discrimination based on atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, mental or physical disability, perceived disability, and AIDS and HIV status. The NJLAD applies to employers of any size.

The NJLAD’s definition of “disability” is expansive and includes “any physical disability, infirmity, malformation, or disfigurement caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness, and any mental, psychological or developmental disability that results from conditions that prevent the normal exercise of any bodily or mental function or which can be shown to exist through accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic tests.” Further, the NJLAD prohibits discrimination based on a disability someone thinks an individual has now or in the past, a disability an individual had in the past, or a disability an individual might have in the future.

I have been discriminated against. What do I do?

There are strict deadlines for filing discrimination claims that vary by the circumstances of your situation and the state in which you reside. In Pennsylvania, victims of discrimination must first file through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) and receive a “Right to Sue” letter in order to file a lawsuit in court. In New Jersey, individuals may file a lawsuit in court without first filing with an agency.

If you have been a victim of illegal discrimination in the workplace, contact employment lawyer Stephanie J. Mensing of Mensing Law LLC at (215) 586-3751. Ms. Mensing in an employment attorney with extensive experience handling discrimination cases in the agencies and state and federal courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Schedule a consultation today to ensure that your rights are protected.