Both federal and California state laws protect workers in need of disability accommodations. Employers cannot discriminate against existing workers or candidates capable of performing the functions of a job with reasonable accommodations.
Unfortunately, while companies may claim to be equal opportunity employers, their practices might deviate from that copied-and-pasted sentence at the bottom of the job listing. Knowing some common ways that companies discriminate against disabled workers can help you stand up for yourself.
The interviewer’s opinion of you changes when they learn about your condition
Perhaps you had a job offer and went in for an interview that the company claimed was merely a formality. However, when you arrived with a visible disability, the tone of the interview went from congratulatory to accusatory, and suddenly you no longer had a job offer. If your disability rather than your skills seemed to be the reason you didn’t get the job, you may have experienced discrimination.
The company won’t agree to reasonable accommodations
Accommodations are ways a company can help a worker do their job. The condition a person has and the job they perform determine what kind of accommodations are reasonable. Building a wheelchair ramp and installing an elevator for an employee who cannot go upstairs would be a reasonable accommodation, but so would having that employee do remote work. There are often multiple ways for a business to accommodate a worker, and if they refuse to do any of them, that could be discrimination.
Your boss begins writing you up for minor infractions
Sometimes, a company will agree to accommodate your needs but will quickly find a way to get rid of you instead. They might have your manager start writing you up for every tiny infraction, even if other people don’t get written up for the same or worse violations.
When a business wants to get rid of a worker for a reason they can’t put on paper, they will usually become pedantic in the enforcement of other rules so that they have plausible deniability when it comes to claims of discrimination. If you think your employer mistreated you because of your disability, you may have grounds for a discrimination claim.