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FAQ on Disability Discrimination and When Employers Are Required to Accommodate your Disability

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgFAQ: I was recently diagnosed with cancer and asked my employer for a six month leave of absence for medical treatment. My boss told me that I could take an unpaid leave of absence and that my job would be waiting for me when I was well enough to come back. A few weeks later, I was informed that my position was eliminated and that I did not have a job to come back to. Do I have a claim for disability discrimination?

Based on a review of further facts in your circumstances, our attorneys can determine whether you have a potential claim for disability discrimination. Our experienced Disability Discrimination Attorneys have helped many employees figure out if they have been discriminated against because of their disability as well as helped negotiate reasonable accommodations for their disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 makes it illegal for a private employer with 15 or more employees to discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities with respect to job applications, hiring, firing, training, promotions, and other aspects of employment. A qualified employee or a job applicant with a disability is one who with or without reasonable accommodation can perform the job’s essential functions. An employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to an employee’s known disability if it does not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer’s business operations.

Your situation brings to mind a case recently settled by the EEOC with home improvement giant Home Depot. In the settlement, Home Depot agreed to paid $100,000 and provide other relief to resolve a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination. The EEOC had charged that the retailer had failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for a cashier with cancer at one of its stores and then terminated her employment because of her medical condition.

In Home Depot, the EEOC alleged that Judy Henderson, an employee of 13 years, requested an unpaid leave of absence for surgery to remove a tumor. Home Depot initially accommodated her disability by giving her unpaid leave and advised her that she would be fired if she didn’t advise the company of her status. Although Henderson provided medical documentation as to when she would have medical clearance to return to work, Home Depot told her she was being terminated because of lack of work. However, the retailer hired two cashiers after Henderson submitted documentation that she would be able to return to work soon.

The settlement also provides for Home Depot to provide anti discrimination training to all store managers, assistant store managers, and human resource staff as well as post a notice regarding the lawsuits resolution. EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. stated that “Employers must give unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation unless they can prove it would be a signification cost or disruption to business.”

Given the sheer size of Home Depot as the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer with sales in the billions, it was shameful to fire an employee about to come back to work after battling cancer. If you feel you have been discriminated against because of a disability or your employer has failed to reasonably accommodate your disability, call our Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to determine if any of your rights have been violated.

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Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.