An employer cannot refuse to hire or employ an employee, discharge or fire an employee or discriminate against an employee because of an employee’s present or history of mental disability, learning disability or physical disability. This conduct is illegal. Unfortunately, though, it is still happening in workplaces in Connecticut and throughout the country. If you have been subject to this, call us. For over 40 years, the Connecticut disability discrimination lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C. have been helping discrimination victims across the state with their legal needs. We understand your frustration and anger, and we know that you want the same rights as your fellow non-disabled counterparts. We will do everything we can to ensure you are granted all protections available to you under the law.
What is Disability Discrimination?
Signed into law in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment and all areas of public life. All private employers with 15 or more employees, state and local government, educations institutions, employment agencies, and labor institutions are covered.
In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) was passed to provide “a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination” and “clear, strong consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination.” An employee’s rights were broadened. For example, a person regarded as having a disability is now covered. Under the ADAAA, an individual with a disability is a person who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (the definition of which was more clearly defined following the Amendment in 2008);
- Has a record of such an impairment; or
- Is regarded as having such an impairment.
Do you care for someone with a disability, but are not disabled yourself? You may have protection under the law. Our State law equivalent to the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act is the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act. While the state and federal laws mirror each other, they are not identical. Our employment lawyers will explain the difference, the damages allowable under each law and strategize to determine whether you should bring your claims in State or Federal Court.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires an employer to reasonably accommodate for a known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it does not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer’s business. The key question is whether the qualified applicant or employee with a disability can perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. Reasonable accommodations are any change in the work environment. Remember, you must ask for a reasonable accommodation. After you do so, the employer has an obligation to engage in an interactive process with the employee to discuss the individual’s needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodations. Our employment lawyers will work with you and your medical doctor to determine the reasonable accommodations to allow you to stay in your job and perform the essential functions of your job.
Retaliation – Disability Discrimination
The ADA prohibits retaliation against an individual who has opposed a discriminatory employment practice, who has filed a charge, testified or participated in an investigation, proceeding or litigation under the ADA, or a person that has requested reasonable accommodations.
Bringing a Disability Bias Case in Connecticut
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the number of charges filed and resolved under the ADA has increased over the past few years. In 1997, the number of complaints the EEOC received was 18,108. According to 2017 data, the number of complaints had increased to 26,838. You do not have direct access to the Courts if you have been discriminated against or retaliated against. First, you must exhaust administrative remedies – meaning you must file a complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities or the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. There are strict deadlines in place for these filings. Please visit our CHRO and EEOC pages for more information. Time is of the essence, so speaking with an experienced employment lawyer quickly is crucial. Contact the Connecticut disability discrimination lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C. today for an evaluation of your case.