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Workplace Disability Discrimination

Workplace Disability Discrimination Complaints Decline

Workplace discrimination comes in many shapes and sizes, but there are only a few more egregious than disability discrimination. Disability discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employer or a potential employer harasses or unjustly denies opportunities to a disabled employee or applicant solely because of their disability.


Disability discrimination complaints throughout the country in recent years have been relatively high, but new statistics show that the number of complaints is trending in the right direction.

Disability-Related Workplace Discrimination

In 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission calculated a total of 28,073 workplace disability discrimination complaints. That number decreased to 26,838 complaints in 2017 and again to 24,605 in 2018.


The EEOC is an organization that monitors all manifestations of discrimination in the workplace including those pertaining to sex, age, color, race, pay equity, religion, national origin, and more. They received a total of 76,418 discrimination complaints in 2018, 32.2% of which were disability complaints, making disability one of the top complaints.


These two consecutive years of complaints trending downward provide hope that companies are altering their practices to be more inclusive and less discriminatory. However, this issue is far from being permanently eradicated.

How Disability Discrimination Occurs in the Workplace

Discrimination can occur in both the hiring process and toward current employees. While it may seem to be less impactful to those who may have already secured the position, disability discrimination in any form can be extremely damaging.


Some of the most common examples of disability-related workplace discrimination include:


  • Asking job applicants about their medical conditions
  • Requiring job applicants to take medical exams
  • Harassing employees on the basis of their disability
  • Creating a workplace with substantial physical barriers that hinder the movement of those with physical disabilities
  • Refusing to reasonably accommodate employees with mental or physical disabilities


The Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act of 2010 makes it illegal for those in the following sectors to discriminate against qualified individuals:


  • Employment agencies
  • Private employers
  • State and local governments
  • Labor unions


This includes hiring, firing, compensation, advancement, and job training of disabled individuals. The ADA is a federal law and anyone who violates this law can face repercussions from the federal government.

Reporting Disability Discrimination When It Happens

Don’t get it confused. The decline in complaints filed in the past two years doesn’t mean that disability discrimination is less of an issue, it only means that it’s being reported less often. If you or someone you know is facing disability discrimination in the workplace, take necessary action to hold these individuals accountable.


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