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Federal Employment Law
How to Prove Disability Discrimination

The government has passed many laws over the years to eliminate discrimination against people because of their disabilities.

Disability discrimination is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act, yet this kind of discrimination happens all the time.

If you become the victim of disability discrimination, it can easily turn your life upside down. 

Sometimes disability discrimination is obvious. Other times, it can be hard to prove without professional legal help.

In this article, we’ll review the most common kinds of discrimination. We will also discuss several possible ways you can prove disability discrimination.

If you suffer from disability discrimination, do not wait for a supervisor or a co-worker to take action.

Stand up for your rights and obtain compensation for your losses. Start the process today by reaching out to a veteran federal employment attorney right now. 

Understanding the Two Types of Disability Discrimination

The Disability Discrimination Act recognizes several forms of discrimination. The first kind is called disparate treatment.

Disparate treatment occurs when a person with a disability is treated worse than other similarly-situated employees without a disability. 

The second form of disability discrimination is harassment. Harassment encompasses a variety of actions that can collectively create a hostile working environment. 

Two Examples of Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination can come in all shapes and sizes. Here are just two hypothetical scenarios.

Disparate Treatment Example #1

Oliver, who has vision difficulties, works as an accountant for a federal agency. Like most agencies, his employer is embracing a hybrid telework model.

This means all employees need to work two days per week at the office. However, shortly after the new work schedule starts, Oliver’s boss tells him that he needs to come into the office four days a week.

The supervisor claims that everyone else in the office will also need to come in four days a week.

After a few weeks, Oliver notices that only employees with medical or physical conditions are in the office four days a week.

When Oliver confronts his supervisor about it, the supervisor says that he asked the disabled employees to come into the office more so that they could receive better office support.

Disparate Treatment Example #2

Cindy is a security officer for the Department of Homeland Security. As a security officer, she patrols a top-secret facility every night.

Cindy discovers that she has diabetes and informs her supervisors. She also asks to be able to eat a snack during her work shift so she can maintain her blood sugar.

After she makes her request, her bosses take her off patrol duty and assign her a desk job within the department. 

Other Examples of Disability Discrimination

Both of these examples constitute textbook disparate treatment disability discrimination.

It does not matter whether a supervisor thinks they are doing a disabled employee a favor by treating them differently.

Lightening a disabled person’s job simply because they are disabled is just as illegal as firing them or transferring them because of their condition.

And simply because a federal employee requests reasonable accommodation does not mean their job duties should be changed. 

Other ways disparate treatment disability discrimination manifests include:

  • Not being hired or promoted because of a mental or physical condition;
  • Being fired after disclosing a disability;
  • Suffering from a loss of pay because your supervisor thinks you “can’t do the job as well” with a disability; and
  • Not being given the same opportunities as other employees.

Most of the time, managers try to cover up discrimination by claiming it is a “routine office practice” or asserting that your job performance is inadequate.

However, an experienced disability discrimination attorney can help you hold bad actors responsible in court. 

Disability Harassment Examples

Disability harassment is any unwelcome or offensive behavior that is related to your disability.

To succeed in a harassment case, you need to prove that the harassment is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a work environment that the average person would find intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

Very rarely, one act of harassment can meet the “severe or pervasive standard.” That said, harassment usually consists of many actions over time.

Here are just a couple quick examples:

  • Your coworkers continually make jokes about your wheelchair and ask whether you can perform “any cool tricks” for them in it; 
  • Your supervisor calls you a “cripple” because you have a congenital foot disorder that causes you to limp; and
  • A contractor makes fun of you for having a stutter, slaps you in the face when you try to talk because you “sound annoying,” and threatens to beat you up if you file a complaint. 

If you’re encountering this kind of behavior, keep a thorough events journal. Record every incident and all the details you can remember. Then contact an attorney immediately. 

Want to Learn More About How to Prove Disability Discrimination in the Federal Workplace?

At the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we refuse to let our clients be the victims of disability discrimination and harassment.

We have many years of experience holding bad actors accountable and ensuring our clients receive compensation for suffering from discrimination and harassment.

Do not wait for someone to help you or hope that things just blow over. Stamp out disability discrimination in the federal workplace by contacting us today.

Author Photo

Aaron Wersing, Attorney at Law

Aaron Wersing is the founder of the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing. Mr. Wersing graduated from the Georgia State University College of Law with a Doctorate in Jurisprudence and was the recipient of the CALI Excellence for the Future Award. Mr. Wersing previously attended the University of Georgia, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. Mr. Wersing is an active member of his local community. Mr. Wersing acts as a volunteer attorney with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the pro bono legal aid organization of the Houston Bar Association. He is also a member of professional legal organizations such as the National Employment Lawyers Association and the American Inns of Court. To reach Aaron for a consultation, please call him at (833) 833-3529.