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."
Understanding the protections of the ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against "qualified" individuals with disabilities with regard to employment decisions. The prohibition extends to job application procedures, hiring and firing practices and policies, promotions, discipline, compensation, job training and many other "terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
Healthcare company refused applicant's request for an accommodation
A healthcare company in Charlotte, North Carolina, Xerox State Healthcare, LLC was accused of denying an applicant with end stage renal disease a reasonable accommodation. According to the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, Victoria Dozier received an employment offer contingent on a pre-employment drug screening. Although she was willing to submit to drug screening, she requested an alternative to providing a urine sample because she was receiving hemodialysis treatment. Her dialysis center offered to provide a different type of drug testing, but the company refused and withdrew the job offer.
Xerox Healthcare settled the claims of disability discrimination
Xerox Healthcare, in an effort to settle these claims, agreed to pay Dozier $35,000 along with other injunctive relief. Specifically, the company agreed to a two-year consent decree requiring it to notify employees and applicants that they are entitled to reasonable accommodations in connection with drug screening, if applicable. The decree also required the company to provide annual training to recruiters and recruiting managers on the requirements of the ADA, including specifically, that employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals covered by the ADA, including applicants.
Reasonable accommodations must be provided
Along with prohibiting discrimination, the ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled applicants or employees. 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.
Under the ADA, an employer is "required, absent undue hardship, to provide a reasonable accommodation to an otherwise qualified individual who meets the definition of disability…" The term "undue hardship" means that, if the accommodation requires significant difficulty or expense, the employer may not be required to provide that accommodation.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or been denied an accommodation, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady Michel & King , either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.