Have you been discriminated against and harassed at work due to a disability? Is your employer refusing to provide you with reasonable accommodations that allow you to perform the duties of your job effectively? If so, you may have a legal claim against your employer. A lawsuit could allow you to seek compensation for your losses or demand that your employer provide you with reasonable accommodations for your disability.
The Tallahassee workplace disability discrimination lawyers at Cruz Law Firm, P.A., can help you pursue the justice you deserve from your employer. Our legal team has nearly two decades of combined experience advocating for the rights of hardworking people in Tallahassee. We are seasoned trial attorneys who are deeply familiar with the state and federal courts and relevant employment laws. When you hire Cruz Law, you can rest assured that we will work tirelessly in pursuit of a fair and equitable outcome.
If you believe you have a legal claim for disability discrimination or failure to accommodate, contact our office immediately to discuss how we could help your case.
Understanding Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
Disability discrimination occurs when workers receive different, adverse treatment because they have or are perceived to have a disability. A disability includes any physical or mental impairment substantially limiting one or more of an individual’s daily activities. Disability discrimination also occurs when employers refuse to consider or provide reasonable accommodations to a worker with a disability.
Let Our Employment Law Firm Handle Your Disability Discrimination Case
Advocating for your rights can feel overwhelming, especially when that means going up against your employer. Let a workplace disability discrimination lawyer from Cruz Law in Tallahassee help you navigate the legal system and fight for justice by:
- Investigating the underlying facts and circumstances of your case to gather evidence that your employer engaged in disability discrimination or a failure to reasonably accommodate your disability.
- Working with medical and vocations experts to prove your right to continue working with reasonable accommodations.
- Documenting your ongoing financial losses and personal suffering from the discrimination, such as lost income and emotional pain from humiliation or embarrassment.
- Taking the time to speak with you about your legal options for seeking compensation for the discrimination you suffered.
- Preparing and filing your charges of discrimination with federal and state agencies and handling communications with the agencies and your employer on your behalf.
- Fighting for the results you deserve in your claim, whether through a settlement with your employer or by taking your case to court to hold your employer accountable for their discriminatory conduct.
Reasonable Accommodation in the Workplace: Understanding Your Rights
Workers with disabilities may have the right to receive reasonable accommodations from employers. A worker has a right to a reasonable accommodation if they are a “qualified” worker. Workers are considered qualified if they can meet the requirements of their position and perform all the job’s essential functions with reasonable accommodation. However, an employer is not required to offer a reasonable accommodation that would pose an undue burden for the employer, such as an accommodation that would materially interfere with the employer’s operations.
Examples of reasonable accommodations that a worker with disabilities might request include:
- Improving accessibility in the workplace
- Modifying equipment or providing ergonomic or assistive equipment
- Modifying working positions or providing frequent standing, sitting, or bathroom breaks
- Modifying work schedules
- Permitting work-from-home
- Providing additional unpaid leave
Examples of Disability Discrimination and Failure to Accommodate
Examples of employer conduct that may give rise to a claim of disability discrimination or failure to accommodate include:
- Refusing to hire job applicants with disabilities
- Terminating or laying off employees with disabilities
- Passing over employees with disabilities for promotions or bonuses
- Asking job applicants about the existence, type, or severity of a disability
- Requiring a job applicant to undergo a medical examination, unless required for all new employees in that position
- Withholding or removing job assignments from workers with disabilities
- Offering lower compensation to workers with disabilities than non-disabled employees with the same job descriptions or duties
- Refusing to provide the same training and job opportunities to workers with disabilities that are provided to other non-disabled workers
- Refusing to provide requested disability accommodations or to negotiate with a worker about reasonable accommodations
- Terminating a worker for requesting disability accommodations or taking disability or medical leave
Florida State and Federal Disability Laws on Workplace Disability Discrimination
The state and federal disability discrimination laws that apply in Florida include the following:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a federal statute prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment and other contexts. The law requires employers and businesses to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with physical or cognitive limitations. It also provides protection from retaliation.
- Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) – The Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 prohibits discrimination against individuals based on protected factors such as disability, race, color, religion, national origin, age, pregnancy, or marital status.
- Chapter 413, Section 08 – 2018 Florida Statutes – This statute requires state and local employers, as well as private employers who receive public funds, to refrain from discriminating against workers with disabilities unless a disability prevents a worker, even with reasonable accommodation, from satisfactorily performing the duties of their job. The statute also makes it a second-degree misdemeanor for employers to engage in disability discrimination.
Who Is and Isn’t Protected by Disability Discrimination Laws?
A worker may be covered by disability discrimination laws if they:
- Have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
- Have a record of a physical or mental impairment; or
- Are perceived to have or regarded as having a disability.
The ADA and the FCRA cover employees who work for employers with 15 or more regular employees in the current or prior calendar year.
How to Prove a Disability Discrimination Claim
Your attorney will rely on various pieces of evidence to establish that you were subject to workplace discrimination, potentially including:
- Your medical records and testimony from your treating providers to prove that you have a disability.
- Testimony from your healthcare providers and vocational experts to prove you can perform the essential functions of your job with reasonable accommodations for your disability.
- Your employment records, including any employment agreements, employee handbooks, HR policy documents, or performance reviews.
- Any emails, text messages, voicemails, or contemporaneous notes of verbal statements that show your employer took adverse action against you or harassed you due to your disability, or refused to provide a requested reasonable accommodation.
While some cases of disability discrimination involve direct evidence of an employer’s discriminatory motivation, in most cases, discrimination must be proven through circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence may include the following:
- Close temporal proximity between your employer learning of your disability or your request for reasonable accommodation and the adverse employment action you suffered.
- Offensive or demeaning commentary about your disability.
- Co-workers without disabilities receiving preferential treatment, such as preferable job assignments, training opportunities, or promotions.
Remedies for Disability Discrimination or Inadequate Accommodation
If your claim of disability discrimination or inadequate accommodation is successful, you could potentially receive compensation and legal remedies such as:
- Back pay, including regular wages or salary, overtime, tips, bonuses, and commissions, if you missed time from work due to a lack of reasonable accommodations
- Lost future earnings if you lose your job due to wrongful termination because of your disability
- Reinstatement to employment or a prior assignment if you were transferred or terminated due to your disability
- A court order requiring your employer to provide specific reasonable accommodations
- Reimbursement of your court costs and attorney’s fees
- Compensation for emotional pain and suffering caused by the discrimination
You may also be entitled to punitive damages if your employer intentionally or willfully engaged in disability discrimination or failure to accommodate. This form of monetary award is meant to punish your employer rather than to compensate you for a particular loss.
How Long Do I Have to File a Workplace Disability Discrimination Claim?
You typically have 180 days from an act of disability discrimination by your employer to file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). But because disability discrimination in employment is also prohibited by state law, the deadline to file may be extended to 300 days. In addition, you have 365 days to file a charge of discrimination with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR).
After the EEOC investigates your charge, it may issue you a right-to-sue notice. The notice authorizes you to file a federal lawsuit alleging disability discrimination or failure to accommodate. You have 90 days following receipt of your notice of right-to-sue to file your case.
If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you because of your disability, it is important to contact an employment lawyer at Cruz Law right away.
Talk to an Experienced Tallahassee Disability Discrimination Attorney
If you’re facing or have faced disability discrimination in the workplace, Cruz Law can help you fight back and demand accountability from your employer.
Our law firm represents employees in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and across the Florida Panhandle. Consultations are confidential and come with no obligation. Contact us today to speak with a compassionate, experienced attorney at our workplace disability discrimination law firm.