People with disabilities are afforded equal rights under both federal and state laws. Disability is defined as an impairment that is physical or mental that creates limitations involving major life activities. The rate of those with disabilities in the U.S. is approximately 12.8%, an increase from 11.9% in 2010. People without disabilities have an employment rate of 76.6%, while those with disabilities have an employment rate of 35.9%. Often discrimination is founded on perception and prejudice and leads to adversity for those seeking employment, housing, or access to public amenities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 and is legislation that protects the rights of disabled individuals.
All people have a right to be judged on their merit rather than any disabilities that they may have or have had in the past. Limitations that may relate to major life activities may include completing tasks, vision, hearing, communicating, walking, reading, and more. Those who are victimized by discrimination may pursue justice by filing a lawsuit.
A property owner or manager may not discriminate against an individual who is seeking housing. Title III of the ADA also prohibits discrimination involving accommodations available for the public. These venues include schools, public recreation sites, retailers, etc. When someone believes they were discriminated against, they have the right to pursue damages according to both federal and state laws.
Those with a disability have a right to fair treatment from employers as either an employee or prospective employee (applicant). This applies to hire or firing decisions, work assignments, benefits, pay, etc. As with all employees, they also have the right to be free from overall harassment and specifically that which is based on their disability. Harassment may include offensive statements, jokes, or other potential acts that may be deemed as hostile.
The Illinois Human Rights Act, like the federal ADA, prohibits employment-related discrimination due to disability. The federal laws apply only to those with 15 or more employees, while Illinois law applies regardless of this number. Disabled individuals may not be excluded from employment opportunities unless incapable of performing the job functions when reasonable accommodations are provided. Employment-related discrimination complaints may be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). The federal ADA laws are not designed to preclude state laws; however, there is an exception if they were to run contrary to ADA protections.
The ADA applies to individuals that have impairments that limit major life activities. Examples of these include the following.
An accommodation refers to modifying or adjusting the aspects of the work environment to perform essential job functions. These adjustments allow individuals equal freedom and rights. Examples include
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency assigned to employment discrimination cases. These actions must begin within 300 days following the alleged instance of discrimination. At the state level, complaints are filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). Cases of alleged housing discrimination may be reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There are various possible legal remedies available to victims including compensation for lost wages or benefits, job reinstatement, or a requirement that reasonable accommodations be implemented, and more.
Claims of disability discrimination are often challenging to prove and generally require experienced legal assistance. At Benassi & Benassi P.C., our attorneys have advocated on behalf of those discriminated against for many years. Those who believe that they have been wrongfully treated are encouraged to contact the office for a consultation by calling (309) 674-3556 today.