Disability pride is accepting and honoring each person’s unique experience with differing abilities and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity with the intention of ending the stigma of disability. People with disabilities are the largest and most diverse minority in the population, representing all abilities, ages, races, ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds.1
Disability Pride Month
Disability Pride Month is an opportunity to create awareness, combat ableism, listen to and amplify voices from people with disabilities, share resources from and for people with disabilities, and learn how to be an ally.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990. That same year, Boston held the first Disability Pride Day. The first official celebration of Disability Pride Month occurred in July 2015, which also marked the 25th anniversary of the ADA.2
“Rights are the things we get when we are strong enough to make good our claim on them.” Helen Keller Author, activist, and co-founder of the ACLU.
Beyond Diversity and Inclusion: Intersectionality and Disability Justice
Intersectionality refers to the intersection of a person’s identities such as gender, race, and class and the discrimination and social inequalities that are compounded. Jonnie Lacy, founder of the first Center for Independent Living and a Black disability rights leader who worked to tackle ableism in the Black community and racism in the disability community said, “One of the things that I have learned is that I cannot allow myself to fall into the trap of being identified by others, that I have to have a sense of my own personal identity. And that sense is very much tied into who I am as a woman of color and as a disabled person, and I try not to distinguish between the three identities anymore.”3
Disability Justice builds on the disability rights movement, taking a more comprehensive approach to help secure rights for disabled people by recognizing the intersectionality of disabled people who belong to additional marginalized communities.4
Disability in the Workplace
Disability is one of the protected classes in the workplace that cannot be discriminated against. Workplace accessibility is vital to maintaining a functional and sustainable workforce that benefits and champions all employees regardless of ability. In California, anyone with a disability is protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA.
The state of California offers broader protections to employees who bring anti-discrimination cases. California employment laws may apply to employers with at least five employees, and federal laws may apply to employers with at least 15 employees. California residents may prefer to file an employment discrimination complaint with DFEH.
These are some of the reasons it is imperative that an individual who wants to file an employment discrimination claim seek out legal representation. An employment law attorney can assist you with specific questions related to your claim. Also, an experienced attorney can explain to you the benefits of filing your case with a specific agency.
By law, employers evaluate job applicants without regard for their actual or perceived medical conditions. California laws and the ADA protect employees with medical conditions from discrimination in the workplace. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees or applicants with a medical condition unless it results in an undue hardship. Undue hardships are anything from significant difficulty or expense. Employees have the right to file medical discrimination claims if they believe they experienced unlawful discrimination.
Not all disabilities are visible. Under FEHA, mental impairments that limit a major life activity qualify as a disability. Intellectual disabilities, mental disorders, and mental health issues can also be considered disabilities. Stress, anxiety, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and PTSD could all qualify as disabilities.
Reasonable Workplace Accommodations
The law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations so that employees with disabilities can continue to work with their conditions. Conditions where disability accommodation may be required include a physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, or pregnancy.
Reasonable accommodations are any measures that allow the employee or applicant to perform the essential job functions. The reasonable accommodation can include restructuring the job, modifying work schedules, part-time scheduling, reassignment to a vacant position, adjustments to training materials, providing readers or interpreters, modifying equipment, modifying work policies, or allowing a service dog to support the employee.
Proving a Disability Discrimination Claim
There are many steps involved in showing the court that you have been discriminated against as a person with disabilities. First, you must prove that you are a member of a “protected class.” Then you must prove that your employer utilized adverse employment practices to discriminate against you. Medical conditions, pregnancy, and mental and physical disabilities are all protected classes under the FEHA in California. Not all conditions meet the requirement, however, California laws cover a broader range of disabilities than federal laws.
Wrongfully Terminated or Retaliated Against
Employers cannot terminate employees for filing a workplace discrimination or harassment lawsuit. Terminating an employee for filing an employment discrimination claim is a retaliatory action, and this may constitute wrongful termination.
An employee who suffers retaliation may need to file a complaint with the DFEH for retaliation. Employees who suffer retaliation may file a lawsuit against an employer for wrongful termination or retaliation.
If you are offered a Severance Agreement, be sure to read through it carefully. Here we cover what you should look for in the agreement: Should I Sign the Severance Agreement My Boss Gave Me?
If you believe you have been discriminated against at work or applying for work, give us a call. At Haeggquist and Eck, we firmly believe in equal rights for all and fight tirelessly for the rights of the disabled. If you feel you have been discriminated against at work or applying for work or if your employer has failed to make reasonable accommodations for you, reach out to us for help seeking fair and just compensation.