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3 subtle forms of disability discrimination at work

In the workplace, everyone deserves a fair chance to succeed. Unfortunately, not everyone gets this chance, especially people with disabilities.

An employer might treat a person with a disability unfairly, creating a hostile environment or restricting an employee’s opportunities to advance. Jobseekers and employees with disabilities should be aware of these forms of discrimination, so they can take appropriate action.

1. Refusing to hire or promote someone because of a disability

An employer might not give an individual with a disability a job and claim the rejection is for another reason. This type of discrimination can be hard to prove, so a person has to look closely for the signs.

Indications that an employer may not have hired someone because of a disability can include a sudden loss of interest after the disclosure of the disability, as well as vague reasons for rejection. There might also be a pattern of hiring only individuals without disabilities despite qualified candidates with disabilities applying for the same positions.

2. Failing to provide reasonable accommodations

A person with disabilities may require certain modifications or tools to do a job well. For example, someone in a wheelchair might need a certain kind of desk to work comfortably. A person who has trouble hearing might need a specific type of phone to communicate.

When employers do not make these changes within a reasonable timeframe, it makes it harder for people with disabilities to work. This lack of support could even be a subtle tactic to get the worker with a disability to quit.

3. Harassing or mistreating an employee

Harassment does not necessarily involve someone being blatantly mean or saying clearly offensive things. Such abuse could be quiet but still hurtful.

This kind of bullying could include jokes about someone’s disability or leaving a person out of activities on purpose. These actions can make the workplace feel unwelcoming and uncomfortable for those with disabilities and are another form of discrimination.

Regrettably, a person with a disability could face many other types of discrimination. By documenting and reporting such incidents, there could be a possibility to hold an employer accountable for these unfair actions.