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Understanding Oregon employment law for people with disabilities

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2021 | Firm News

In recent years, there has been a great deal of attention paid to employee rights. Much of that has focused on sexual harassment and other forms of mistreatment that many employees were reluctant to complain about because they did not believe it would help them. In fact, there was overt fear that it would harm them. A movements dedicated to workers’ rights has reduced that fear. Despite that, discrimination is an ongoing problem. That includes disability discrimination. When applying for a job as a prospective employee or already employed, understanding basic facts about the rights of workers with disabilities is imperative.

The size of the business is critical with federal and state disability laws

A relatively small city like Sherwood is likelier to have a large faction of “mom and pop” style businesses with a limited number of employees. Still, in Oregon, those with disabilities are protected in a similar manner as they are federally. The main difference is that the state accords protections against disability discrimination for workplaces with six or more employees. Federally, there must be a minimum of 15 employees to be subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A person is deemed disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that creates a limitation on their life activities.

Disabilities can run the gamut from a hindrance in caring for themselves to the inability to walk, stand, lift and interact with others. They can face challenges with their everyday functioning and much more. Even those who are suffering from alcoholism can be considered disabled. The same is not true for illegal drug addiction. In short, those who can complete the essential functions of the job cannot be discriminated against if they are disabled.

Employers must also adhere to “reasonable accommodation” meaning they should modify or adjust the circumstances for the prospective or current employee so they can work. Undue hardship on the employer – such as exorbitant cost or an exceedingly complex series of changes – are not reasonable accommodations and do not constitute a violation if the changes are not made.

ADA violations can be addressed after consulting with experienced professionals

People who might have been discriminated against because of a disability are frequently unfamiliar with the details of employment law. They might not even know that their rights have been violated. Since everyone should have the right to work and be free of discrimination, it is wise to understand the facts. In some instances, it was a misunderstanding and can be easily worked out. In others, more aggressive action is needed. Regardless, having assistance is important to ensure people are treated fairly.