According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, 61 million U.S. adults have some form of disability. This comes out to approximately 26% of the nation’s grown-ups. Furthermore, the CDC estimates that around 28.1% of Florida’s adult population suffers from some sort of impairment.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, ensures equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities. You may receive protection from the ADA if you possess a mental or physical handicap that curtails your performance of major life undertakings. It also applies if you have a record or history of one. Finally, you may fall under this act’s umbrella if others perceive you as having one.
The Florida Civil Rights Act also forbids discriminatory behavior against the disabled by employers. In spite of the existence of such measures, prejudice-based practices continue to occur. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, reported the filing of 24,605 disability discrimination charges in 2018, 32.3 % of the total from that year. There are some common questions disabled individuals have about the workforce and their place in it.
1. What counts as disability discrimination?
Differences in wages, promotions, hiring and any other unfair practices due to your disabled status fall under this umbrella. Bosses are also banned from intolerance based on an employee’s association with a disabled individual like a spouse.
2. Do you qualify for accommodations?
If you have an actual limiting disability, the ADA entitles you to reasonable accommodations. These are changes to the application process, job methods, workplace or job itself that allow you to do tasks necessary to your position. They must not cause undue hardship to the employer.
3. Is retaliation a possibility?
Equal employment opportunity laws proscribe retaliation for reporting discrimination. However, in 2018, the EEOC noted 39,469 cases of it. If you suspect you are the victim of it, you need to discuss it with human resources or your manager. You may have to bring a complaint before the EEOC or the Florida Commission on Human Relations.
Disability discrimination is unlawful. Protections and avenues of recourse exist to prevent/deal with it.
4. Do you qualify for disability insurance benefits?
Many employers, particularly larger companies, offer either short term disability, long term disability or both as a benefit to their employees. If your disability does not allow you to perform the essential functions of your job with or without accommodation, you may well be entitled to short or long term disability benefits. Often times, however, legitimate clams for disability benefits are denied by the insurance company. In such circumstances, you should consult with a disability insurance attorney who may be able to assist in securing benefits. Also, even if disability insurance is not available or your claim is denied, you may still be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”).
Unfortunately, SSDI benefits are also often wrongfully denied, and so it may become necessary to hire an attorney to secure those benefits as well.