Chicago Religious & Disability Discrimination Attorney

In race and sex discrimination cases, an issue arises when a person of a specific race or gender is treated differently. As with race and sex discrimination cases, you must prove that the reason for the difference in treatment was due to a person’s race or gender. This is the same in religious and disability discrimination cases.

A company that refuses to hire a person of a particular religion or with a disability, but is capable of doing the job, violates the law in the same manner as in race and sex discrimination cases. However, laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of religion or disability go a step further. These laws require companies to make “reasonable accommodations” for religious practices as well as with disabilities.

Reasonable Accommodations

A company must provide reasonable accommodations, meaning that the accommodation is directed toward, and is sufficient to accommodate the employees.

At the same time, employers are not required to provide accommodations that are themselves an undue hardship. For example, it may be a reasonable accommodation for a paper mill to put $100,000 air filter in one of its facilities in order to accommodate a cleaning person who has asthma, but because the accommodation would cause an undue hardship on the employer, that accommodation is not required to be met.

Often these cases ask whether a particular accommodation is both a reasonable accommodation and does not cause an undue hardship on the employer. This requires the employee and the employer to work together to determine the right and reasonable accommodation. If the employee does not participate in this process, the employer cannot be held liable for failing to find an appropriate accommodation. If the employer should fail to participate in the process, they can be held liable for failure to identify a reasonable accommodation. As a result, if you believe you need an reasonable accommodation it is important to tell your employer, but also begin discussing what that that reasonable accommodation might be with your employer.

Religious Discrimination

The failure to accommodate a religious practice is a violation of Title VII. To pursue a claim under Title VII, an employee must meet several criteria. First, the employee’s religious belief must be a part of a bona fide religion. Second, the employee must make it known to the employer that there is a conflict between the job requirements and the employee’s religious practices. Finally, the employee must make an effort to work with the employer in order to find a reasonable accommodation, which does not cause the employer an undue hardship.

Disability Discrimination

The failure to provide accommodations for a person with a disability is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These claims require the employee to meet a number of criteria.. First, the employee’s condition must qualify as a a disability. In order for a particular disability to be considered a disability under the law, it must meet the legal definition, defined as a condition that substantially impairs a major life activity.

An employee will need to discuss with their Disability Discrimination Attorney how their impacts a major life activity. Major life activities include walking, seeing, or breathing.

Perception of a Disability

Disability claims may also arise when the employer perceives that an employee has a disability that that substantially impairs at least one of the major life activities. Even in these circumstances the employer’s own perception may not be enough to show a disability under the act. For this reason, perception of disability cases can be very difficult and challenging to prove.

Making a Request for Accommodation of a Disability

In order to claim the protections of the ADA, the employee must first approach the employer, explaining how the disability impairs his or her work. They must then engage in the interactive process with the employer to discuss possible reasonable accommodations. . The employee does not have to explain how their disability substantially impairs a major life activity, however, the employer will not be held liable for failing to make the accommodation if the employee does not meet the definition of disabled. The employer’s view of whether to make the accommodation may hinge on its view of whether the employee is disabled, and in some cases, it may make sense to explain the impairment to the employer.

Religious accommodation and disability claims can be very tricky. If you are in need of an accommodation, explain your situation to your employer immediately, documenting that explanation by sending a follow up letter. If you are unable to reach an accommodation with your employer, the Chicago religious and disability attorneys at Maduff & Maduff, LLC may be able to help.

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