“Disease discrimination” in the workplace refers to situations where an employee or applicant is treated differently from other employees or potential employees based on a disease that is disabling. In this type of discrimination, a person may be denied employment or benefits, or fired based solely on their status as having a disease-related condition. This is illegal under employment laws and can lead to serious legal consequences for the discriminator.
In some cases, the discrimination can occur even if a disease has not manifested. For instance, some diseases demonstrate certain indicators in a person’s genetic information. Some genetic tests may reveal that the person has a higher probability of manifesting a disease. If an employer uses such information to discriminate against them, it is known as genetic discrimination, which is also prohibited by law.
Most disease discrimination or genetic discrimination cases involve serious diseases. These can often be diseases that are life-threatening or that can require special accommodations for the person at work. Types of diseases that are commonly subject to discrimination claims may include:
Employment laws provide serious legal consequences for cases involving discrimination against those with a disability. Depending on the nature of the violation, legal remedies for discrimination may include:
- Damages awards for losses caused by the discrimination (lost wages and other costs)
- Reinstatement of benefits
- Reinstatement to a previous position (for instance, if the discrimination led to a wrongful termination)
- Sanctions for the employer responsible for the discrimination
In most cases, a discrimination case needs to be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) first before a lawsuit can be filed. This in itself can be a complex investigation that requires the guidance of an attorney. You may need to inquire with a legal professional regarding your options.
Discrimination is among the most serious types of employment law violations. In particular, disease discrimination laws can be quite specific and can involve some complex legal issues. It may be in your best interests to hire an employment law attorney in your area if you need assistance filing a discrimination claim. Your lawyer can guide you through the filing process and provide you with legal advice for your case. Also, if you need to appear for an EEOC hearing or if you need to appear in court, your lawyer can represent you during those crucial times as well.