ADA is short for the Americans with Disabilities Act. This Act provides legal protection for people with disabilities in various aspects of life that include employment, which is covered under Title I. Qualified individuals with disabilities should be considered on par with their able-bodied peers when it comes to job applications, and to this end, reasonable accommodations should be made wherever possible (when it does not create an undue hardship or present a direct threat). This starts with the hiring process and can extend to the way a job is performed and/or the job environment, if applicable. Employers with more than 15 employees are subject to Title I of the ADA.
Discrimination refers to the treatment of or the making of a distinction towards an individual based on a group they belong to instead of their individual merit. Discrimination can be on the basis of age, race, sex, national origin, disability, pregnancy, and more. There is no one shape or size to discriminate, which can take several forms. This includes being passed over for a promotion and not being paid equally for doing the same job, right down to being excluded from social events and being the target of slurs. In some cases, discrimination can turn into harassment and result in a hostile work environment which makes the employee unable to perform their job duties.
FMLA is short for the Family and Medical Leave Act. This gives employees the right to take unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons while being covered under the health insurance they would be entitled to if they had not taken leave. Some of these reasons include taking parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child and taking leave to care for a loved one with a serious health condition. During this time, the employee’s job should remain protected and they should be able to return to work without complications when the period of leave is over.
Harassment refers to a set of unwelcomed and uninvited behaviors that puts the victim in fear of their safety. In the workplace, harassment can take place for several reasons, such as discrimination or retaliation. Regardless of the motivations behind harassment, it is illegal and victims have legal recourse. Harassing behavior can include making derogatory comments or inappropriate suggestions, physically touching or blocking the victim, making unreasonable work requests, and many more.
Hostile Work Environment
Employers are obliged to provide a reasonably comfortable work environment for employees. However, when someone is getting harassed, humiliated, or treated in a manner that violates these workplace conditions, this can result in a hostile work environment. The result is an employee who feels overly stressed to report to work and/or is unable to perform their job duties to their full capacity. For a case of a hostile work environment to hold up, the words and actions the victim has been on the receiving end of must be discriminatory in nature.
Reasonable accommodations refer to modifications made to the hiring process, the way a job is done, or the work environment to ensure that a person with disabilities can perform the essential functions of their job. This allows individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to perform next to their able-bodied counterparts. Reasonable accommodations do not present a direct threat or create an undue hardship on the employer, other employees, or the work environment. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include improving accessibility in a work area, providing reserved parking, allowing a flexible work schedule or remote working arrangement, making modifications to test materials, and more.
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