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Imagine you’re playing a game where the rules are supposed to make sure everyone has a fair chance to win. But what if someone changed the rules so only certain players could win? That wouldn’t be fair, right? In the working world, this unfair treatment is called discrimination. Discrimination happens when an employee is treated badly compared to others in situations like getting hired, earning money, receiving training, and more, just because of their personal characteristics.

Not All Unfairness is Against the Law

It might surprise you, but not every kind of unfair treatment is illegal. For instance, a job can choose not to hire someone because they haven’t learned certain skills or don’t have enough experience. However, there are special rules about unfair treatment because of a disability or medical condition. Sometimes, an employer might say there’s a different reason for treating someone badly to hide the real, illegal reason. This is called a “pretext.”

Disability and Your Rights

To be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability can be something that makes it hard for someone to do important daily activities, like walking or learning, or affects a major part of their body, like their heart or brain. This protection also covers people who had a disability in the past or are treated as though they have a disability, even if they don’t.

Unfair Treatment Based on Disability is Not Allowed

There are many ways it’s not okay to treat someone badly at work because of a disability:

  • Harassment: Making fun of someone or bothering them because of their disability is not allowed. This includes mean comments about someone’s disability or teasing someone for being friends or related to someone with a disability.
  • Not Making Adjustments: Jobs must make changes to help employees with disabilities do their work, unless it’s very hard or expensive to do so. This might mean making the workplace accessible for wheelchairs or allowing work from home.
  • Asking Unfair Questions: Before hiring someone, a job can’t ask about disabilities or make someone take a medical test unless everyone else has to do it too. After someone is hired, these questions are only okay under certain conditions.
  • Keeping Medical Information Private: Any medical information has to be kept secret and not mixed with other work papers.
  • Being Unfair After a Complaint: It’s not okay to treat someone badly because they asked for a fair change at work or talked about unfair treatment.

Your Medical History is Protected

Your job can’t treat you unfairly because of your medical history or a genetic test you or a family member took. This means you shouldn’t be scared to ask for what you need at work or to speak up if you’re being treated unfairly because of your medical or genetic information.

What to Do If You Feel Treated Unfairly

If you think you’re not being treated right because of a disability or for any reason mentioned here, you have the right to ask for changes at work or to tell someone about your situation. It’s important to talk to someone who knows a lot about these rules, like a legal expert, if you have questions or need help.

Remember, everyone deserves to be treated fairly at work, no matter what. If you’re ever in doubt or feel like you’re not being treated right, it’s okay to ask questions and seek help.

J. Horowitz
J. Horowitz

J. Horowitz leverages over two decades of experience as a seasoned employment law attorney in Arizona to offer insightful freelance writing on the same subject. After a successful career advocating for fairness and justice in the workplace, J. now dedicates his expertise to writing comprehensive articles, blog posts, and thought leadership pieces that illuminate the complexities of employment law.