Disability discrimination law applies to private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions, and covers everything from hiring to firing to advancement to compensation to job training.
Most companies with at least 15 employees are subject to laws for the disabled, and in addition to the financial impact from a lawsuit, any kind of discrimination in the workplace can breed distrust and disharmony among employees, and make employees with disabilities feel isolated from their co-workers. By complying with these laws, and making sure all of your employees understand them, you can create a more productive and cooperative team.
There are five federal laws that prohibit disability discrimination in the workplace:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act, probably the best-known disability discrimination act
- The Rehabilitation Act
- The Workforce Investment Act
- The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act
- The Civil Service Reform Act
Find disability discrimination lawyers in your areaA disability discrimination attorney can assist both in the creation of your company's anti-discrimination policies, and if a disability discrimination lawsuit is filed. Disability attorneys will also know of any state or local disability laws you need to comply with.
Include disability discrimination policies in your employee handbookBy clearly stating your company's rules regarding disability discrimination in your employee handbook, you can ensure that every employee knows what your policies are, and that everyone approaches the issue the same way. You're also making it clear to employees that you have zero-tolerance when it comes to discrimination, and that you value the contributions made by your employees with disabilities.
Find out which federal and state agencies oversee disability discrimination lawDisability discrimination is a federal matter, with various agencies overseeing the various laws, even multiple agencies overseeing parts of the same law. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title I of the ADA, the U.S. Department of Justice enforces Title II of the ADA, the The Department of Labor's Civil Rights Center enforces Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Civil Service Reform Act is enforced by both the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the Merit Systems Protection Board.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offers information for small business owners, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy has a section just for employers.
- If you turn down someone with a disability for a job, or if you have an employee with a disability who is disciplined, terminated, or denied a raise or promotion, keep documentation of the reason for this decision and have a disability attorney review it. If the employee ever files a discrimination lawsuit, you can prove that the company's actions were not based on the person's disability.