Disability Discrimination

Federal and Minnesota state laws prohibit disability discrimination and victims are entitled to compensation and other remedies. Our Minnesota employment law attorneys can review your case, protect your rights, and help you combat illegal discrimination in the workplace.

Disability discrimination can cause serious financial, professional, and personal harm to employees. Whether you were denied employment, suffered demotion, harassment, or job loss, remember that in many instances, you do have the right to take action against an employer that violates the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) prohibit an employer from treating an applicant or employee less favorably than those who do not have a disability. Acts of discrimination may be related to hiring, firing, tenure, compensation, terms, upgrading, conditions, facilities or privileges of employment.

What is disability discrimination?

Disability discrimination can take many forms. Do you feel like you were denied a job because of a disability? Were you treated differently or given fewer training opportunities because of a disability? Do you feel your position was terminated or you were denied a promotion because of a disability? If so, you should consult an experienced employment law attorney to understand your rights.

We are disability discrimination lawyers who represent employees and managers throughout Minnesota who have been wrongfully terminated or treated differently because of their disability.

How do I file a disability discrimination claim?

In the event of discrimination, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who can assess the facts of your case. During 2008, significant amendments were made to the Americans with Disabilities Act to make it ”easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the ADA.” According to the Amendments, the terms of the ADA are to be interpreted broadly to ensure the broadest protections are afforded to disabled employees. The Minnesota Human Rights Act and cases interpreting the MHRA also follow the 2008 amendments to the ADA in determining what conditions are disabilities under the law. Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP’s disability discrimination lawyers can help you understand your rights under Minnesota and federal disability laws.

Am I legally disabled?

When assessing a disability claim, one of the first considerations is whether the victim actually suffers from a legal disability. Under the law, a disability is a condition or characteristic that causes a person to have:

  • A physical, sensory or mental impairment that materially affects a major life activity;
  • A history of or record of such a disability; or
  • A perceived disability, even if you don’t.

Our lawyers have fought for victims in these cases and have successfully established the rights of workers in Minnesota. We were successful in proving workplace disability discrimination in the case Gilbert v. MetLife, 2011 WL 1843441 (D. Minn. Mar. 14, 2011), where the court held that the employer did not retain or rehire the plaintiff, a claims supervisor, because of her disability—laryngeal cancer. The company closed the Bloomington, Minnesota office where Plaintiff had worked, and rehired all the claims supervisors from that office except the plaintiff. There was also evidence that the employer considered Plaintiff’s disability, cancer, in making the decision to not hire her.

Is my medical condition a disability?

Not every medical condition is considered a disability. Under the law, “the disability must materially limit the person in a major life activity.” Generally, a disability is “materially limiting” if the condition “materially limits” the ability of the individual to perform a major life activity as compared to most people in the general population. For example, if you are unable to care for yourself, perform manual tasks, see, hear, eat, sleep, walk, stand, sit, reach, lift, bend, speak, breath, learn, read, concentrate, think, communicate, or interact with others.

The definition of disability also includes the operation of major bodily functions such as the immune systems, skin, digestive systems, neurological, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, lymphatic, musculoskeletal and reproductive functions.

Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, anxiety, depression, muscular or skeletal degenerative diseases (bad back, arthritis, fibromyalgia) are all examples of disabilities that can be treated with medications and forms of therapy to the point where the disability is not actively debilitating. Even when the disability is not active, it can fit the definition of disability under state and federal law. Further, even temporary medical conditions may be considered protected disabilities under the law.

In some cases, employers or coworkers my regard an employee/coworker as disabled. This means that they think the worker has a disability based upon how that employee looks, acts, moves or communicates. When treated differently from others not regarded as disabled, this employee may also have rights under state and federal disability law.

A disability discrimination attorney can review your medical condition and help determine whether your situation is considered a disability under Minnesota or federal law.

What is disability discrimination retaliation?

Minnesota and federal laws protect disabled individuals from discrimination as well as any retaliation resulting from those claims. This means that it is illegal for your employer to discriminate or retaliate against you due to your association with a disabled person—such as your child, spouse or even a coworker. The anti-retaliation provisions of state and federal law also prohibit retaliation against an employee that reports discrimination or requests a reasonable accommodation.

The disability discrimination lawyers at Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP have continued to fight for employees who have suffered discrimination and disability retaliation. In Poshek v. Lakeview Hospital, our lawyers represented an employee who was terminated after reporting discrimination. The employee asserted that her employer’s adverse treatment of her was due to her disability and requests for accommodations. In any similar case, we can protect your rights and help recover the compensation you deserve.

What is a “reasonable accommodation” for disability?

A common violation by employers is the failure to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees. Under the law, an employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee or a job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship to the employer—that is, that it would cause significant expense, infringe on the rights of other employees, impair workplace safety or greatly reduce efficiency in other jobs.

A reasonable accommodation may include:

  • Job restructuring
  • Part-time or modified work schedules
  • Reassignment to a vacant position
  • Acquisition, or modification of equipment or devices
  • Provision of aides on a temporary or periodic basis (readers/interpreters)

The goal of a reasonable accommodation is to permit a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to enjoy the same privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. Simply put, an accommodation is a change in the workplace that allows an employee with a disability to perform the main parts of the job.

Is disability harassment illegal?

Unfortunately, disabled persons have been the target of harassment, cruelty, and other forms of hostility in work environments. If you feel you have been illegally targeted because of your disability, you may have a claim. Minnesota and federal laws prohibit an employer from harassing an employee or applicant because of their disability or permitting a hostile work environment.

Harassment may include offensive remarks or communication, verbal or written, about a person’s disability. Common forms of hostility based on disability are name calling, mocking, mimicking, criticizing or complaining about accommodations or accusing an employee of faking their illness or injury. No one should be forced to endure disability harassment in the workplace. If you or someone you know has suffered discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, we can help.

Contact Our Minnesota Employment Lawyers
Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP is dedicated to protecting the rights of employees throughout Minnesota. We have significant experience investigating, litigating, and resolving, employment discrimination and retaliation cases. If you are experiencing discrimination or harassment because of your disability, we want to hear from you. Contact us for a free initial consultation.