Dealing with Employment Discrimination after a Workplace Injury

Workplace injuries are not uncommon. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the overall incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases was 109.4 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2013 alone. What happens when people are injured at work and try to get back into their everyday work routine? Workplace discrimination can present itself in many forms; physical barriers that prevent people with disabilities to move around, being reassigned or fired, or even being asked too many questions about your medical condition may all be a sign of workplace discrimination.

Federal Laws

The Americans with Disabilities Act (Title I and Title V) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals with disabilities in job hiring, firing, promotions, compensation, training, and other circumstances. An individual with a disability is “qualified” if he or she satisfies the skill, experience, and other job-related requirements of the position, and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of that job.

A “reasonable accommodation” for someone who is disabled as a result of a workplace injury may include making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to individuals with disabilities, job restructuring, modifying schedules, providing additional unpaid leave, acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, and complying with other obligations necessary to accommodate their disability.

The Rehabilitation Act (sections 501 and 505) makes it illegal to discriminate based on programs conducted by federal agencies, or those receiving federal financial assistance (including in the employment of federal contractors). In addition, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 also applies to federal employment and enumerates prohibited personnel practices to promote fairness in the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws. Typically, you file an administrative complaint with the EEOC if you feel that you have been the victim of discrimination.

State Laws

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) & Commission (PHRC) prohibit discrimination based on several factors including disability, and the PHRC is appointed with investigating any complaints. In the Act, “non-job related handicap or disability” refers to any handicap or disability that does not substantially interfere with the ability to perform the essential functions of employment. In addition to filing a complaint with the EEOC, Pennsylvania citizens should also file a complaint with the PHRC if they have experienced discrimination in the workplace. To bring suit under the PHRA, a plaintiff must first file an administrative complaint with the PHRC within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination, and the Pennsylvania Courts have strictly interpreted this requirement.

 

Contact Solnick & Associates, LLC

If you sustain an injury on the job or a work-related illness, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides for your medical expenses and, in the event you are unable to work, wage-loss compensation benefits until you’re able to go back to work. Anti-discriminatory laws also protect you from being discriminated against in your job. Solnick & Associates have years of experience with employment discrimination, personal injury, and workers’ compensation issues, and can help you ensure that your rights are protected after you’ve experienced a significant personal injury. Contact us today for a free consultation.