On October 30, an administrative law judge for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved a $10 million class-action settlement. A news source reported that the plaintiffs are former employees of the Social Security Administration (SSA) who applied for a promotion in 2003. Apparently, these individuals made a “best qualified” list but were not chosen for promotions. The plaintiffs argued that they were not chosen because of certain enumerated disabilities.
In response to the settlement, the SSA will begin to significantly improve its policies and procedures in regards to disabled workers. This will include trainings and providing individuals with reasonable accommodations. The compensation will include over $6.5 million to members of the class that was discriminated against, and the rest of the settlement will go towards legal and administrative fees.
Kentucky Disability Discrimination
In Kentucky, discrimination because of a legitimate disability is unlawful. Both Kentucky and federal law require that public employers provide any employee who has a known disability with reasonable accommodations. Disabilities include both physical and mental limitations of qualified individuals. It is important to note that this ban on discrimination does not only include current employees but potential employees as well. For example, employers cannot ask a prospective employee whether he or she is disabled before he or she is hired. They can only ask about any disabilities after the employee is hired.
What Are “Reasonable Accommodations?”
If an employer knows that a qualified employee has a mental or physical limitation, it must provide the individual with reasonable accommodations. This generally means it must make appropriate modifications to assist the disabled employee in completing his or her job duties. This may include changing the work setting to make it more accessible to the employee, modifying his or her hours of work, or even purchasing new equipment.
Health and Safety Exception
There are only a few circumstances where a public employer may discriminate against an individual with a disability and that is where the employee poses a risk to the safety or health of others. For example, if an individual applies for a bus driving position who suffers from periodic bouts of blindness or seizures, it would not be safe for that person to be transporting other individuals because there is a risk that he or she would have a seizure and hurt others. There are other instances where some forms of discrimination may be allowed, but it is important to contact an attorney to discuss these categories.
Have You Been Discriminated Against by Your Employer?
If you have been discriminated against by a public employer, you may be able to bring an employment discrimination lawsuit. The law firm of Miller and Falkner is comprised of many dedicated employment law attorneys who have years of experiences litigating against discriminating employers. If you have been discriminated against, you may be entitled to damages and awards such as back pay, retroactive pay, and possible reinstatement. Employment discrimination cases involve many parties and strict deadlines. It is crucial to increase your chances of success that you contact one of our Kentucky attorneys to help you prepare your case. Contact our office at 877-279-0003 today to schedule a free initial consultation.
Landmark Suit in Transgender Discrimination Case Against the U.S. Government, Kentucky Employment Lawyer Blog, November 14, 2014.