Preventing disability discrimination in the workplace

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has released a publication concerning the rights persons with disabilities possess in regards to employment. Qualified people with disabilities are protected under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Law. Disability discrimination is also prohibited under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

A disability is a substantial mental or physical impairment that limits one’s capacity to work, achieve or engage in major life activities. Those with mental illnesses or certain diseases are generally protected even if an illness or disease is treated, and the law also protects those with disabilities that do not interfere with the ability to perform essential tasks. When a worker with disabilities is qualified, he or she is allowed reasonable accommodations while on the job. A written diagnosis from a health care provider is evidence of a disability, but some conditions may qualify as disabilities after review.

Typically, employers are not allowed to ask about disabilities before hiring a candidate but may ask about one’s abilities in reference to a position. Persons with disabilities cannot be discriminated against in matters including hiring, pay, promotion, training and job assignments. Those who think discrimination has occurred have 300 days to file a complaint with the Equal Rights Division. This division investigates complaints, make orders if discrimination exists and helps settle cases.

Employment rights protect workers when discrimination occurs because all those who are qualified for a position should be given fair treatment and consideration. One who is not hired or is passed over for a promotion because of a disability may want to consult with an attorney. Employers are required to discuss reasonable accommodations with an employee and provide those accommodations to those who qualify.

Source: The Department of Workforce Development, “Persons with Disabilities on the Job“, November 03, 2014

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