Chattanooga Disability Discrimination Lawyer

When victims suffer an accident and request an employer to help continue employment, we expect that the employer reasonable accommodate that injury. However, when employers choose to neglect their federally mandated obligation to assist employees, problems are created. Fortunately, federal law allows for people treated unjustly in these scenarios to hold employers accountable for their actions. Contacting an attorney could be the first step toward resolving these actions. A Chattanooga disability discrimination lawyer could help you recover compensation for this unjust treatment.

How Chattanooga Discrimination Law Defines and Addresses Disability Discrimination

According to Tennessee law and federal law, disability discrimination is when a company treats an employee differently in terms of their employment, promotions, hiring, and firing based on an employee’s injury or illness. Unfortunately, beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act, Tennessee does not have any additional disability-related requirements for employers.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and Employer Requirements

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal discrimination act. It prohibits disability discrimination, and that means that employers cannot make employment decisions based on a person’s injury or illness that substantially affects a potential employee’s life’s activities. One of the big things with the Americans with Disabilities Act is that it requires reasonable accommodation. This is unique from other types of discrimination that are protected by the Civil Rights Act, such as gender and race.

Only disability discrimination and religious discrimination have a requirement for reasonable accommodation. When it comes to disability discrimination, if an employee has an injury or illness and is qualified for the job but could only do it with a reasonable accommodation that could be easily provided by an employer, then the employer must provide the accommodation that allows that employee to do their job.

Pre-existing Medical Conditions and Protections Against Discrimination

Pre-existing medical conditions do count as a disability. This means that under disability discrimination law, the origin of the disability is not important. If it is something that a person has had for many years and progresses to the point where an accommodation is now required where one was not necessary before, then the employer would be required to provide that accommodation, if it is reasonable and not too burdensome. In a comparable manner, the same would be true for a new injury. If a person had a brand-new injury that was not pre-existing, then the employer would be required to provide that request of accommodation.

Pre-Existing Mental Health Disabilities

Pre-existing mental health conditions could certainly count as disabilities so long as they substantially affect a major life activity. This means it has to be something that truly affects the person and their daily life, and affects them in tangible ways.

How Tennessee and Federal Law Regards Reasonable Accommodation for Employees with Disabilities

Surprisingly, there is not a requirement to provide reasonable accommodation under Tennessee law. That is only required by federal law. Under federal law, there is a requirement to provide reasonable accommodations for a disability. Because an accommodation must be provided is a case-by-case basis and so there is not a universal standardization for accommodations, it is always based on the circumstances and the burden based on the employer. Some employers might be able to accommodate a disability without too much burden while others might not be able to.

For example, a person who has a problem with their eyes or a problem with headaches such that they are sensitive to light might need an accommodation. They want to be able to wear their sunglasses to work. The employer has a policy that does not allow sunglasses. The employer would have to allow the accommodation. This accommodation is not going to affect production and it is not going to cause a company to lose a lot of money, and so they would probably be required to allow that employee to wear their sunglasses.

There is what is called an interactive process with disability discrimination. What that means is that once an accommodation is requested, then the employer is required to initiate the interactive process. It is interactive, and that means that if an employee requests to wear their sunglasses to work, the employer cannot just say “no”. They should interact and come up with a solution that works for both parties. Other examples might be specialized equipment, stand-up desk, or tweaks in the schedule.

Undue Hardship Explained

Undue hardship is based on the employer’s hardship, meaning an employer does not have to provide an accommodation for disability if it constitutes a significant burden for the employer. The accommodation is often weighed against how hard it is going to be for the employer to provide that accommodation. For example, allowing sunglasses at work would probably not constitute an undue hardship.

On the other hand, is an employee’s job is to lift heavy things and they are provided a lifting restriction, this may be difficult for the employer. If the only thing the employer and employee could come up with is hiring somebody else to do all the lifting all day long for them, this could present challenges. That means hiring somebody and paying somebody, day in and day out. That is a lot of hardship to accommodate that disability, and it is probably undue. The employer probably would not be required to provide that accommodation.

Another example would be with time off and changing the schedule around. If a job is typically 40 hours a week and this person needs to only work 38 hours a week or they need a longer lunch to take some medication, that might be okay because it does not really affect the employer that much to allow small exceptions here and there. But if the person needs three months off work, that might be too burdensome for the employer to be required by law to provide that three months of leave under the ADA.

Reach Out for Further Information about Chattanooga Disability Discrimination

While Tennessee does not offer any laws regarding disability discrimination, that does not mean you have no recourse against an employer who has treated you unfairly. A Chattanooga disability discrimination lawyer could help you hold negligent and unjust employers accountable for their actions after denying you an accommodation or failing to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Reach out to an attorney today to start your confidential consultation.

Chattanooga Disability Discrimination Lawyer