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Disability Discrimination

Robb Bigelow is a Nashville disability discrimination lawyer who fights for the rights of employees who have been discriminated against due to physical or mental disabilities. After graduating from Vanderbilt Law School and working for a federal judge for three years, Robb has over a decade of experience representing employees throughout Nashville and Middle Tennessee who have been discriminated against.

As any experience disability discrimination attorney will tell you, it is against the law to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability. Companies cannot use someone’s disability as a reason to refuse to hire or promote a work, to fire an employee, or to deny privileges or conditions of employment.

It has been my honor to passionately fight as a Nashville disability discrimination attorney on behalf of individuals with disabilities in trial and appellate courts. In fact, I am one of a relatively small number of Nashville disability discrimination attorneys who has fought a case all the way up to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and successfully argued a matter against a giant company who failed to follow the rules.

A. What are the Rules About Who is Disabled?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (or ADA) contains special rules about how employers can question employees about their physical or mental conditions.

One of the things that helps disability discrimination lawyers is the fact that the ADA defines disability very broadly. Specifically, a disability is:

  • an actual physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual (such an caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, sleeping, walking, standing, eating, etc. and also the normal operation of bodily functions); or
  • having a record of such an impairment; or
  • being regarded as having such an impairment (even if one does not actually have an impairment that limited a major life activity).
B. Who Is a Covered Employer Under the ADA?

The ADA applies to private, state, and local employers with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. 42 U.S.C. § 12111. The ADA’s nondiscrimination standards also apply to federal sector employees, under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act.

C. What Practices Does the Act Prohibit? Discrimination

The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against any individual with a disability because of that individual’s disability, perceived disability, or past record of disability, with regard to job applications, hiring, promotion, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and all other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. 42 U.S.C. § 12111(a). This includes both discrimination based on disparate treatment and disparate impact.

An employer cannot treat a disabled employee or applicant differently than it treats non-disabled individuals because of the employee or applicant’s disability, such as firing, not hiring, or not promoting the employee because of his or her disability.

An employer also cannot use employment tests, standards, or other selection criteria that intentionally or unintentionally exclude qualified individuals with a disability in a disproportionate manner.

In addition, the ADA also bars discrimination against employees for their association with persons who have disabilities. For instance, a mother or father cannot be terminated because of the fact that they need to take care of a child with a disability. A Nashville disability discrimination attorney can help you fight for your rights.

Disability-Based Harassment in the Workplace Is Also Prohibited

An employee shows disability-based harassment by showing he or she has been subjected to hostile, offensive, or intimidating comments or conduct because of his or her disability. The harassment must be sufficiently severe or frequent to alter the conditions of the person’s employment and create a hostile working environment. As experienced Nashville disability discrimination attorneys know, the difference between what is and is not a hostile work environment can win or lose a case.

Finally, the ADA prohibits retaliation against an employee for reporting, opposing, or complaining about treatment which he or she reasonably believes represents disability discrimination or harassment.

For example, this could be in the form of reporting possible disability discrimination to one’s supervisor or human resources department, or providing information during an internal investigation into another employee’s disability complaint. An employee is covered by the anti-discrimination provision of the ADA regardless of whether he or she is opposing discrimination against him or herself, or discrimination against a coworker. The ADA also prohibits retaliation against an employee for participating in a proceeding asserting ADA rights, e.g. filing an EEOC charge, filing a lawsuit, or testifying in a deposition.

Robb Bigelow is a Nashville disability discrimination lawyer who fights for the rights of employees. Let Robb fight for you.