How to Treat People with Disabilities
How would you feel if you went to a store for something important, only to find the store manager had put up an obstacle course in front of what you needed? What if you went for a job interview and the employer simply took one look at you and assumed you were not able to do the work? Finally, how would you feel if you spent your whole life overcoming odds, exceeding expectations, and defeating challenges, yet people often refer to you with words that make you seem weak.
For people who are disabled, raising awareness about discrimination is a constant battle anywhere they go. At Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, our disability discrimination attorneys in Long Island have more than a century of combined legal experience fighting for the rights of those who have faced discrimination. Now, we have combined our knowledge of discrimination law with advice from our disabled clients to craft an informative guide called HOW TO TREAT THE DISABLED: INTEGRATE, DON’T DISCRIMINATE.
We invite you to download this free guide and share it with anyone you know who may need help understanding how to treat people with disabilities.
What This Guide Covers
First and foremost, you should understand that people do not want to be defined by their disabilities. They do not want your pity or an awkward avoidance. Rather, they just want you to treat them like you would treat anyone else.
Many disabled people work hard to empower themselves and be as independent as possible. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) outlines regulations that aim to make it easier for people to accomplish these goals of independence, particularly in the workplace and out in public. Our guide includes tips for everyone ─ employers, store owners, and disabled people ─ on their rights and responsibilities related to these regulations.
Tips for Employers on How to Treat People with Disabilities
There are strict protections for disabled people in the workplace, and many of them come down to respect and common sense. For example:
Be sensitive with your words. There are many terms used in the past that are now considered insensitive. Do not use the words “crippled,” “retarded,” or “handicapped,” and avoid calling a disabled person a “victim” or a “sufferer.” In general, you should never use insulting or derogatory language.
Do not create obstacles. Think about how your workplace is set up and whether it creates considerable physical barriers for an employee with a disability.
Give job applicants a fair shake. It is illegal to refuse to hire a person based on a disability. You should also never ask about medical status in a job interview.
Do not tolerate harassment. It is illegal to intimidate an employee based on a disability. This applies to harassment from coworkers and clients, as well as supervisors.
Tips for Business Owners on Accommodating People with Disabilities
A disabled person should be able to access all the general areas of your building. This includes parking lots, restrooms, elevators, and entrance ways. Some tips for ensuring your store or business is accessible include:
Keep entryways clean. Make sure wheelchair ramps are free of debris and that obstacles such as trash cans would not keep a disabled person from being able to move around.
Clearly mark accessible routes. Indicating locations of stairs and elevators helps disabled people choose the best route to where they are going.
Be vigilant about preventing falls. Many disabled people are more susceptible to falls, so clean up hazards such as spills immediately and put up warning signs.
Lend a helping hand. There are going to be situations where a person with a disability may need help accessing something. For example, a person in a wheelchair may not be able to easily reach an electronic payment device at checkout. Handing the person a clip board to sign for credit cards can make the process a little easier.
Be open to service animals. It can be considered discrimination to deny access to a disabled person’s service animal in areas where other members of the public are allowed to go.
A special note to building owners: Buildings that were constructed before 1990 do not have to adapt amenities to accommodate people with disabilities. However, if you do construction on your property or have it remodeled, you are expected to make adjustments for access.
Know Your Rights as a Person with a Disability
You have worked hard to get where you are, and you deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. If an employer or business owner has discriminated against you based on your disability, you may have a right to compensation. Depending on the circumstances of your case, our disability discrimination attorneys may demand:
Back pay if you have been fired and then reinstated to your job
Compensation for the emotional pain and suffering caused by the discrimination
Payment for medical bills if you were physically injured on the property or needed counseling to cope with the discrimination
Punitive damages meant to punish the offending company in extreme cases
Costs associated with filing a discrimination claim, such as court costs and attorneys’ fees
If you suspect or know that you have been discriminated against because of a disability, do not hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable Long Island disability attorney. A compassionate attorney can go over your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and outline the steps for pursuing a complaint.
At Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, our disability discrimination attorneys in Long Island have always been strong advocates for people with disabilities. We are here to answer your questions and fight for your rights, whether you faced discrimination at work or at a place of business such as a store or restaurant.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, and learn how we will fight to protect your rights.