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Disability discrimination can happen without a disability

Technically speaking, you don't have to be disabled to suffer from disability discrimination.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has very strict regulations regarding disability discrimination, as a way to protect workers. They note that treating an employee or a potential employee less favorably due to a disability is illegal. However, it's also illegal to do this because of a person's disability history or just because the employer thinks that the person has a mental or physical impairment, even if it doesn't exist.

The example that the EEOC gives is cancer. At times, it could lead to disability and is very serious. With proper treatment, it could then go into remission. If the employer thinks that the employee is still disabled or judges him or her based on that medical history, even if the cancer is no longer an issue, disability discrimination could still be taking place.

The EEOC does leave the door open to interpretation by saying employees can't be treated less favorably, but specific examples may help. An applicant may not be hired, for instance, or a worker could be fired or demoted. If workers are paid by the hour, their hours could be cut in order to force them out or reduce pay. Essentially, the EEOC just wants companies to treat all workers equally, regardless of past or present disabilities.

Have you been discriminated against, either while trying to get a job or in the job you already hold? If so, it's crucial to note that this could violate your rights, and you may want to look into your legal options.

Source: EEOC, "Disability Discrimination," accessed April 20, 2017

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