Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorney Answer: I am the primary caregiver for my daughter member, but my boss always gets upset when I work from home or decline to work overtime because of my care giving duties – can I sue to stop the harassment at work? My manager says I have to choose between caring for my disabled child or dedicating more time to the office – do I have a case for disability discrimination even if I am not suffering from the disability?
The American Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability harassment by bosses, managers and supervisors as well as discrimination based on disability. The ADA also makes it illegal for your job to retaliate against workers and other employees who report or oppose disability discrimination. Most people know that. But, not many employees are aware that the ADA provides protections for not only disabled employees, but also employees who are the primary caregivers for disabled family members. These disability discrimination laws protect caregivers from unlawful disparate treatment or a hostile work environment based on disability discrimination.
A good example of an unlawful disparate impact would be a typical interview where an employer has candidates to choose from, candidate A, B, and C. Widget Inc., is currently hiring for a new computer software programmer and has selected three applicants to choose from. Out of the three selected for an interview, Widget Inc., decides to interview Mary, their top choice because she has a strong background in programming and is working as a programmer at its competitor, Gasket LLC.
Mary is given an interview and during her interview, she reveals that she is the sole caregiver of a daughter who suffers from Autism. Widget Inc., believing she would always call off work or wouldn’t be able to handle the position and care giving, decides not to hire Mary and to extend an offer to Joe, a single guy who doesn’t have any experience in programming. Joe doesn’t have any experience, but Widget Inc., believes he would work longer hours and has less responsibilities.
The impact of decisions such as the one above is that employers will begin to make employment decisions not based upon the abilities of the candidates, but whether or not they have disabled family members that would require time off or unexpected absences from work.
Employers may also be liable for a hostile work environment based on disability discrimination if a current employee is a caregiver and is getting harassment from their supervisor because of their duties. For example, if Widget Inc, is forced to hire Mary because Joe got scooped up by Gasket LLC, she may have a case if Widget begins to make derogatory comments about her daughter’s condition, refuses to give her raises or other employment benefits because of her daughter’s disability, or in many cases, retaliates against her for requesting leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) to care for her daughter if her condition worsens. (This also is unlawful conduct under the FMLA).
If your employer is treating you differently because of your disabled family member or loved one, you should contact one of our attorneys to discuss your case.
However, employers are allowed to have neutral policies, such as requiring everyone to work overtime as needed. In fact, several courts have held that working overtime may be considered an essential function of the job, and other court, such as the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio) in Cotter v. Ajilon Servs. and First Circuit Court of Appeals in Tardie v. Rehab. Hosp. of Rhode Island held that even a worker’s inability to work overtime based on his or her condition may not give rise to a claim under the ADA, let alone the condition of a family member. However, if the employer and employee qualify under the FMLA, intermittent FMLA may be used on an intermittent basis to limit or even possibly eliminate that the need for a worker to work overtime hours.
Having to live with a disability or disabled family member is difficult enough without worrying about the effect it may have on your job. If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our Ohio employment law attorneys at 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. The Spitz Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
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