Can I Be Fired for a Hearing Disability?

Can I Be Fired for a Hearing DisabilityThe law is very clear on what employers can and cannot do with employees who are disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even still, employers act against them and employees who are well aware of their rights take action against their employer and get compensated for the discrimination that they have faced. Our Los Angeles lawyers have handled many cases of disability discrimination, and they would be happy to help you receive the justice that you deserve.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was signed into law in order to protect those with a disability from workplace discrimination. In an ideal world, the employer only makes decisions on employees through two things: their qualifications for their job and their ability to perform the essential job functions. Everything else is nugatory and needs not be considered. Unfortunately, some employers’ bias is too tightly woven into their being and still let their prejudices get in the way of business decisions. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it was not against the law for employers to use such biases against their employers. Now it is illegal for employers to make decisions based on an applicant’s or employee’s race, color, heritage, country of origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression/identity, religion, genetic information, age, and disability. If your employer has acted against you because of any of the listed reasons, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against your employers.

The ADA is what protects those with a disability from their employer’s discrimination. “Disability,” under the definition of the ADA, is broad which only helps employees as the broad language can classify many ailments as a disability and rightly provide them protections under the law. Being deaf classifies as having such disability, and that means that you are protected under the ADA. But what does that mean? We help answer questions like this every day and more! Examples of such questions include:

  • Can I be fired for being deaf?
  • I was fired for having a hearing disability. What are my rights? Can I hire a lawyer to sue my employer?
  • My employer fired me for loss of hearing. Is this wrongful termination? Can I sue?
  • Can I sue my employer for firing me for being deaf?

We at the California Employment Attorneys Group are here to ensure that your employers treat you lawfully and got you back if they don’t.

What Laws Help Protect Deaf People?

The American with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 and gave people with disabilities protection from employer- and employee-based discrimination. Many employees would get fired or wrongfully disciplined for becoming injured, even though their disability did not mean they could not do the job – it was just an assumption from their employer.

Employers can no longer discriminate against employees with a disability. But what is a “disability” in the eyes of the law?

Under the ADA, a disability is defined as “a physical  or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” It also offers protection if you have a record of having such an impairment, and does not allow an employer to assume you have a disability and take negative action.

A major life activity is something that is required for you to function like an average person. They include, but are not limited to, “caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping (along with other functioning organs), walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. The ability to hear is how we piece together the world around us beyond what we can see and classifies as a disability under the ADA.

Under the ADA, employers must also provide “reasonable accommodation” to disabled employees if they request it. Reasonable accommodation is a certain assistance or changes to the disabled employee’s position or even changes to the workplace itself that will help the disabled employee do their job despite having a disability. So for example, if you are deaf and need reasonable accommodation like a software that converts speech to text, for example, your employer may be required to purchase that software in order for you to do your job and fulfill the essential job functions of your position. Keep in mind that an employer can only provide the reasonable accommodation if you request it, they cannot make assumptions about your disability. It is unlawful for an employer to reject your request unless they can prove that providing such request would create undue hardships. Small businesses with limited resources, for instance, are businesses in which an undue hardship may be believable. Still, the burden is on them to prove it. Otherwise, they must provide you with the reasonable accommodation that will help you continue your work at optimal level.

The ADA states that an employer cannot treat you differently than those employees without a disability. Likewise, fellow employees cannot tease or make offensive jokes about that person’s disability – it’s called harassment and is a violation of the ADA. The employer must do all they can to make the workplace a safe space for everyone under the roof. For example, let’s say that a there is a new spot open and a promotion is available to employees in a particular position – one of those employees is also deaf and requires reasonable accommodation in order to fulfill their occupational duty. It is against the law for an employer to overlook that employee simply because of their disability. If they are far and away the most qualified for the new promotion, the employer may open themselves up to a lawsuit if they decide to go against that employer based solely on the fact that the employee is deaf.

What Do I Do If I’ve Been Discriminated Against for Being Deaf?

The first thing you need to do is contact an employment lawyer in order for you to understand all of your rights as an employee in the state of California. If the attorney agrees that you may have been discriminated against and you want to pursue justice and compensation for the damages that you suffered, your next move is to sue your employer. But before you bust into their office and slap a lawsuit on their desk, you have to first file a charge with an employment government agency. At the federal level exists the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which enforces the ADA. You have 180 calendar days to file your charge with them from the day you experienced discrimination. If the discrimination is ongoing, then you have 180 days from the day you last experienced it.

At the state level is California’s Department of Fair Employment & Housing which also protects against disability discrimination. Because both state and federal laws do not allow disability discrimination, both agencies will protect your rights and the deadline to file a charge with them is extended to 300 calendar days.

Once they have launched an investigation and conclude that your rights may have violated you can request the “right-to-sue” letter which then gives you the go-ahead to file a lawsuit against your employer. Take note, however, it is recommended that you only request this letter once you and your attorney are fully ready to take your attorney to court because you only have 90 days to take action. If you need any more questions, you can contact our Los Angeles attorneys for a free case review.

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