How to Sue Your Employer for Disability Discrimination
It is illegal for an employer to treat its employees or applicants unfavorably because of a disability. This type of discrimination occurs when an employee or applicant has a disability, has a history of a disability, or is believed to have an impairment that is not transitory and minor and is treated unfairly because of it. Both federal and state laws serve employees and applicants by:
- Prohibiting disability discrimination in all aspects of employment
- Protecting them from harassment because of a disability or perceived disability
- Entitling them to reasonable accommodations, should they be necessary
If you have experienced disability discrimination, you may be able to sue your employer. An employment attorney can guide you through this process.
Before You Sue Your Employer
After experiencing disability discrimination, there are certain steps you must take before you can file a lawsuit. It is beneficial to contact an employment attorney right away.
You must file a Charge of Discrimination and have your case investigated by a federal or state agency. You should file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), a federal agency that enforces civil rights laws. You can file by mail or in person at one of the 53 EEOC field offices. Additionally, you should request that your charge be dual-filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”), a state agency that enforces civil rights laws. Remember, you must go through one of these agencies before you can sue your employer.
If the EEOC does not release your case within 180 days of filing the charge, you should request a Notice of Right-to-Sue. This “right to sue letter” will allow you to file your disability discrimination lawsuit in a court of law. You must file your lawsuit within 90 days of receiving this notice.
Where to File Your Lawsuit
Once you receive your Notice of Right-to-Sue, you might ask yourself, “Where do I file my lawsuit?” There are two options: federal court and state court. Where you can file depends on what laws you are alleging discrimination under. In disability cases, you will likely file under the Americans with Disabilities Act (a federal law) or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (a state law), or both.
If you are bringing your lawsuit under a federal law, you must file in federal court. If you are bringing your lawsuit under a state law, you must file in state court. If you are filing under both federal and state laws, you can file in either federal or state court, but not both. If you have a choice, it may be to your advantage to file in federal court, since federal cases are typically resolved more quickly.
Again, an employment attorney can represent you during this process. Fighting for your rights, he or she will be able to offer you sound advice.