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Workplace discrimination and the ADA

Discrimination in the workplace in Florida can come in many forms, direct and indirect. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law prohibiting bias based on actual or perceived disabilities. There are 18 personal characteristics protected by this law. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, discrimination is the unequal treatment or harassment that causes harm to an applicant or employee because of a disability.

Indirect discrimination takes place when a person with one of the protected personal characteristics has unreasonable conditions imposed upon them, which puts them at a disadvantage. These situations arise when workplace behavior or policy does not treat everyone fairly. ADA is relevant in businesses with at least 15 people for a minimum of 20 weeks. Failure to hire a job applicant who is otherwise qualified, but not employed due to their disability is also considered discrimination.

Reasonable accommodation must be made to ensure all employees are treated equally, regardless of their physical conditions. Under the ADA, reasonable accommodations are physical changes to a workplace to aid impaired employees. Examples of physical workplace aids include the following:

•    Installing wheelchair ramps

•    Moving an individual to a temporary, light-duty or vacant position

•    Providing a qualified interpreter or reader

•    Modifying the work schedule to accommodate the disability

•    Allowing additional unpaid leave or use of vacation time for medical reasons

•    Installing special equipment that enables completion of duties

Employees who believe they suffered a civil rights violation in the form of workplace discrimination must prove that those responsible acted with intent, based on the disability. 

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