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Disability represents major source of workplace discrimination

People with disabilities in New York frequently face difficulties landing a job. The rate of unemployment among people with disabilities reaches as high as 70 percent. Among those with jobs, their pay on average falls below their co-workers. Full-time workers with disabilities earn about $1,000 less every month than their able-bodied colleagues.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency processed 84,254 charges of discrimination in 2017, and 31.9 percent of them involved complaints from people living with disabilities. Although 26,838 charges claiming disability discrimination reached the EEOC in 2017, it represented a decline from 2016 when disability complaints peaked at 28,073 charges.

In 2017, the EEOC managed to gain resolutions favorable to the employee in 5,540 cases related to disability bias. Settlements recovered for disabled workers totaled $135.2 million that year.

Disabilities among people are not always obvious to employers and co-workers. Because 88 percent of disabilities are largely invisible to others, companies tend to fall short when trying to accommodate disabled workers. Wheelchair ramps represent only a first step toward recognizing the needs of people who might need modified tools, ergonomic work spaces or assistant dogs.

When a person encounters employment discrimination, a consultation with an attorney may reveal how to respond. An attorney may be able to determine if an employer's actions might have violated the law. With legal support, a person might document mistreatment like unfair evaluations, retaliation for complaints, denial of employment or refusal to provide reasonable accommodations at work. An attorney may help organize evidence and prepare a complaint to the EEOC. Support may also include an attorney communicating directly with the employer and requesting a settlement. Legal action might result in a settlement for a person that includes lost pay and benefits or reinstatement to a position.

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