Employment discrimination cases involving a failure to hire a job applicant are not that common because of the misconception that you cannot pursue a lawsuit against a business they did not actually work for. However, anti-discrimination laws do in fact apply to hiring decisions.
Federal anti-discrimination laws protect employees and job applicants
There are many federal statutes that protect individuals from discrimination based on certain protected categories. These categories include race, sex or gender, religious beliefs, age, among others. Individuals with disabilities are also protected by a federal statute called the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, also known as the “ADA.” The ADA applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as to state and local government employers.
The protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against “qualified” individuals with disabilities with regard to employment decisions. This prohibition includes job application procedures, hiring and firing practices and policies, promotions, discipline, compensation, job training and many other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
Women not hired after being seen using sign language
Katelynn Baker and Tia Rice applied for positions in a cell phone repair facility operatedby S&B Industry. They appeared at the company to participate in a group interview but were seen using American Sign Language to communicate with each other. When they later met with a member of management, they were told they would not be hired.
The women filed charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC filed a lawsuit on behalf of the women. Ultimately, the company settled the case for $110,000 rather than go to trial and put the case in the hands of a jury.
Applicants are also entitled to accommodations
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals who are covered by the Act are entitled to reasonable accommodation, not only in their employment but also during the job application process. The only exception is when the employer can show that providing a reasonable accommodation would result in an undue hardship. That means something that requires significant difficulty or expense to implement. Ultimately, employers cannot refuse to consider a disabled job applicant simply because they request a reasonable accommodation.
What constitutes a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is simply an adjustment or modification an employer provides to enable individuals with disabilities to have equal employment opportunities. Of course, accommodations vary depending on what each individual needs, and not all individuals with disabilities will need the same accommodations.
Applicants must still be able to meet the job requirements
It is important to understand, though, that even job applicants who are covered by the ADA are still required to meet the employer's requirements for the job. Those requirements can include things such as education, training, employment experience, skills, and licenses. They must also be able to perform the essential functions or duties of the job either, either with or without a reasonable accommodation.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.