Disability discrimination means treating a qualified individual (applicant or employee) unfavorably because of the person's disability, history of disability, or perceived disability. Disability discrimination laws generally provide the following key substantive protections.
Discrimination & Harassment: It is illegal to discriminate against an employee or applicant with respect to any term, condition or privilege of employment including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, or fringe benefits.
Workplace harassment because of a person's disability is also illegal.
- Reasonable Accommodation Requirement: Disability discrimination laws require employers to provide employees and job applicants with reasonable accommodations unless doing so would cause "undue hardship" to the employer.
- Retaliation: It is illegal to retaliate against a person for opposing disability discrimination or participating in a disability discrimination investigation or proceeding.
- Medical Inquiries and Exams: Disability discrimination laws typically limit an employer's ability to ask medical questions or to require medical examinations of employees and applicants.
Federal Disability Discrimination Laws
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Title I
The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. The ADA applies to private-sector employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor unions, and state and local governments.
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Sections 501 and 505
The Rehabilitation Act protects employees of the federal government and federal government contractors from disability discrimination. Claims under the Rehabilitation Act largely follow analysis of like claims under the ADA.
District of Columbia Human Rights Act (Disability Discrimination)
Among other things, the D.C. Human Rights Act (DCHRA) prohibits discrimination because of a person's disability.
- Employers Covered: The DCHRA applies to private-sector companies, regardless of size, and the D.C. Government. It does not apply to the Federal Government. The DCHRA defines employer broadly to include any person acting in the interest of an employer.
- Employees Covered: Like the ADA, the DCHRA covers qualified individuals with disabilities.
Virginians with Disabilities Act (VDA)
The VDA applies to private employers in Virginia, and it is the exclusive remedy for state employees alleging disability discrimination. Employers who are covered by the federal Rehabilitation Act cannot be sued under the VDA.
If you need an experienced disability discrimination lawyer in Virginia or D.C., contact attorney Lori Searcy today at 703-644-4122 / 202-393-1443 or complete the
employment case review form. For more information about employment laws in Virginia or the District of Columbia, visit our blog:
The Employment Law Chronicle.