Can You Sue if You Are Denied a Job Based on Past Injuries?

iStock_000025955877_Large-300x200American employers cannot deny someone a job based on a disability, including a past injury that causes ongoing medical problems. If you are denied a job based on a past injury, you could have a claim for monetary damages (so long as the case meets the requirements for discrimination).

The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against those with disabilities during the hiring process. While it does not cover all conditions, the ADA prevents employers from turning away otherwise qualified individuals with a disability. The ADA covers not only those with disabilities, but also those who areperceived as having a disability. In other words, if the employer decides not to hire you because theythink you have a disability, that is unlawful under the ADA.

The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA offers employment protection, and it also requires businesses and other public spaces to make accommodations for those with disabilities. The Act applies to all employers that have operated for at least 20 weeks and have at least 15 employees. The ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a “major life activity,” including talking, learning, walking, or seeing.

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, employers cannot discriminate against otherwise qualified individuals with a disability in any of the following areas:

  • Application process
  • Hiring
  • Training
  • Pay and benefits
  • Promotion
  • Termination
  • Other employment conditions

However, keep in mind that employers are allowed to have certain requirements for the position in question. While an employer cannot turn you down based on a perceived disability, it still has discretion when the position requires certain health or physical abilities. For example, say you have recurring back problems and, as a result, cannot lift more than 30 pounds. If you are applying for a job at a moving company (that would require you to lift and move heavy boxes every day), the company can legally deny you a job.

A necessary health or physical requirement is known as a “bona fide occupational qualification,” or B.F.O.Q. If there is a legitimate reason for the employer to have these requirements, it can absolve the employer of liability for discrimination in the hiring process. It is important to note that the Americans With Disabilities Act does not protect those who are able to work in a broad range of jobs; in other words, a disability that only affects your ability to perform a select few jobs is not covered by the ADA. For example, if a man wants to become a pilot but is too nearsighted to qualify, it would not be considered discrimination to deny him the job. Since the man is able to work a broad range of other jobs, the employer could legally turn him away.


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