Labor: Disability law can force employers to discriminate

The ADA sometimes mandates that a covered employee receive preferential treatment

Employment law is full of inconsistencies. And that is what makes it fun, right? Well, there’s a particular “inconsistency” that exists in the laws that apply to qualified individuals with a disability relative to the employment laws with which most employers are more familiar. 

Indeed, it has been ingrained in the minds of employers that they must treat all of their employees consistently and equally, and that they cannot discriminate against employees because of their inclusion in a protected class. For example, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act proscribes discrimination “against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin[.]” Similarly, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employers from discriminating “because of such individual’s age[.]” Then along comes the world of disability law, in which these commonly held notions of “I can’t discriminate” and “I must treat everyone the same” are blown away.

Contributing Author

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Michael Schmidt

Michael C. Schmidt is a member of Cozen O'Connor and practices in the firm’s Labor & Employment Group. He concentrates in representing management in...

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