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Disability Discrimination and Retaliation for Opposing Disability Discrimination

Through my years as an employment law attorney, a significant amount of my practice has involved representing employees with disabilities.  Since the ADA was favorably amended by Congress in 2008, I have seen positive and encouraging developments in the area of protecting the rights of disabled employees.  I have great respect for my disabled clients, who battle not only the challenges of their disabilities, but often face stressful, insensitive and hostile work environments. Privacy and confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements prohibit me from identifying cases, named parties, and the existence and terms of settlement agreements.  However, if you are a victim of disability discrimination, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights, which includes removing workplace barriers that prevent you from working to your full capacity.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) and various local ordinances prohibit employment discrimination against an employee or job applicant on the basis of an individual’s disability.  Under these laws, it is illegal to make employment decisions regarding hiring, promotion, demotion, termination, compensation, job training or other terms and conditions of employment based upon your status as a disabled person.  In addition, these laws require that employers reasonably accommodate your known physical or mental disabilities, unless the accommodation would impose an “undue hardship” on the employer. These reasonable accommodations can include making existing facilities readily accessible to you, restructuring your job, modifying your work schedule, and modifying equipment.

The same laws that protect you against disability discrimination also protect you from retaliation for complaining about disability discrimination or participating in an investigation of disability discrimination.  As an employee, you have a legal right to complain about disability discrimination in the workplace.  If you exercise your legal right to complain, it is illegal for your employer to “retaliate” against you by firing you, harassing you, stripping you of your job responsibilities, refusing to give you deserved raises, issuing unwarranted discipline, etc.

The ADA applies to employers with at least 15 employees and the IHRA with respect to disability discrimination applies to employers with at least 1 employee.