Federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on a disability of an employee or job applicant. Disability discrimination is governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the protections offered by the act, employers may not treat a person less favorably because of a belief that he or she has a disability or a history of disability. Discrimination is prohibited with regard to pay rates, job assignments, hiring and firing decisions, promotions, layoffs, fringe benefits and other employment related matters.
An employer's discriminatory action may violate the ADA even if the person affected does not actually have a disability because the discrimination may occur due an employer's incorrect belief that a disability exists. History of disability may be sufficient to support a claim of discrimination as well. An employee or applicant who has cancer that is in remission, for example, may have a claim for disability discrimination if he or she suffers adverse employment action due to medical history.
Employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees and job applicants with disabilities. Reasonable accommodation may include such things as providing for wheelchair access or providing an interpreter for a person who is hearing impaired. An employer may not be subject to the reasonable accommodation requirement if making accommodations would constitute an undue hardship.
Not all medical conditions qualify for protection under the ADA. For instance, a person may be protected if he or she is substantially limited in an activity such as seeing, talking, learning, hearing or walking. However, those who believe they have been discriminated against in violation of the law may wish to consult an employment law attorney for an analysis of the facts of their case. An attorney may be able to help with the preparation of a civil claim or attempt to negotiate with the employer to avoid litigation.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Disability Discrimination", September 03, 2014