You have protections against discrimination.

You have a right to protections against discrimination based on a disability. Several federal disability nondiscrimination laws apply to people with disabilities who are qualified for jobs with covered employers in the private-sector, state and local governments, and the federal government.

Generally, employers cannot ask disability-related questions or require medical examinations until after an applicant has been given a conditional job offer. However, some employers who have federal contracts or subcontracts are required to invite applicants to voluntarily self-identify (via an official government form) as a person with a disability at both the pre- and post- offer stage to comply with regulations requiring them to take proactive steps to recruit qualified people with disabilities. Furthermore, these federal contractors and subcontractors are required to invite current employees to self-identify as a person with a disability on a periodic basis. It is important to note that such invitations to self-identify are permissible when the question is being asked for affirmative action purposes.

Woman using sign language

Discrimination based on a person’s disability may also occur when an employer’s apparently fair policies or procedures have an unintentional discriminatory effect on people with disabilities and the policy is not shown to be job-related or consistent with business necessity. And discrimination can occur when you and the person who discriminated against you share a protected characteristic.

You have a right to a reasonable accommodation to help you apply for a job, perform the essential functions of your job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment, as enjoyed by other similarly situated employees without disabilities, unless doing so would impose undue hardship on the employer.

You have the right to file a complaint or a Charge of Discrimination, participate in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit, engage in any protected equal employment opportunity (EEO) activity, or oppose harassment or discrimination without being retaliated against by your employer.

You generally have a right to protection from discrimination regardless of your immigration status, although, in some cases, immigration status may limit the remedies that you’ll be able to obtain.

What this means for you

Employers are not allowed to discriminate against you based on the fact that you:

  • have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,
  • have a record of having a disability,
  • are regarded as having a disability, or
  • have a relationship with a person with a disability.

Examples of discrimination

In general, this means that you cannot be:

  • fired,
  • rejected for a job or promotion,
  • given lesser assignments,
  • forced to take leave, or
  • otherwise disciplined

because of a disability.

Need more information?
The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under Federal employment laws.