The Rights of Disabled Employees in the Workplace: Understanding the Basics

What Are Your Rights as an Employee

People with disabilities have been historically marginalized in society, with limited access to education, employment, and other fundamental human rights. However, in recent years, there has been an increased focus on ensuring that individuals with disabilities have the same opportunities and rights as non-disabled individuals. This includes protecting the rights of disabled employees in the workplace. In this article, we will explore the basic rights of disabled employees and the legal protections afforded to them.

What is a Disability?

A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include but are not limited to, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and performing manual tasks. Disabilities can be permanent or temporary and can vary in severity.

The law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including the workplace. This includes protection against discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions, and pay.

Reasonable Accommodations

Employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that allows an individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of their job. Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Modified work schedules or hours
  • Job restructuring
  • Modified equipment or devices
  • Adjusted workspaces
  • Assistance with job duties

Employers are only required to provide reasonable accommodations if they do not impose an undue hardship on the business. An undue hardship is defined as an action that would be too difficult or too expensive to implement given the resources of the business.

Disability Harassment

Disabled employees are also protected from disability-based harassment. Disability-based harassment is any unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s disability that creates a hostile or offensive work environment. This includes verbal or physical conduct, such as jokes or name-calling, that is severe or pervasive enough to interfere with an employee’s ability to work.

Disability-based harassment is illegal and should be reported to a supervisor or human resources representative immediately. Employers are responsible for promptly investigating and addressing any reports of harassment.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Complaints

If an employee believes that their rights have been violated, they have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is a federal agency that enforces laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination.

The EEOC will investigate the complaint and may attempt to resolve the issue through mediation. If mediation is not successful, the EEOC may file a lawsuit on behalf of the employee.

In conclusion, disabled employees have the right to equal treatment in the workplace, including protection from discrimination and harassment, and the right to reasonable accommodations. Employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations and address any reports of harassment promptly. If an employee believes that their rights have been violated, they have the right to file a complaint with the EEOC or contact a disability lawyer Toronto. It is important for employers and employees alike to be aware of these basic rights and protections to ensure that disabled individuals are able to fully participate in the workforce.

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