New Hampshire, Vermont, and federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”), prohibit employers from discriminating against otherwise qualified applicants or employees because they have a disability. This includes any aspect of employment: hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, and other conditions of employment. These laws also protect against unlawful discrimination by public entities such as schools and private entities like restaurants.
The law also requires every employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to any employee who has a disability but who is otherwise qualified to perform his or her necessary job functions. A reasonable accommodation is a change in the work conditions or environment that enables a person with a disability to perform his or her duties. If an employee asks the employer for a reasonable accommodation, the employer is required to have an interactive communication with the employee so the two can discuss the matter in detail and try to reach a resolution. For example, if an employee has a back issue and needs to stand up for a few minutes every hour, that would probably considered a reasonable accommodation. On the other hand, if an employee asks his or her employer to make an accommodation that would cost thousands of dollars, that might not be considered a reasonable accommodation.
A prospective employer cannot ask a job applicant if he or she is disabled or ask about the disability. The employer can, however, ask the applicant whether they are able to perform the essential duties of the job “with or without a reasonable accommodation.”
Attorney David Cole served for approximately eight years as a Commissioner on New Hampshire’s Commission for Human Rights, the state agency that enforces New Hampshire’s discrimination laws in the workplace, and has aggressively advocated for victims of illegal discrimination and harassment in the workplace, in housing, and in their private lives for 30 years.
If you or someone you know is in need of legal assistance because they are the victim of discrimination because they have a disability, call our office at 800-909-LAWS (5297) or submit an online questionnaire through this website. All cases are subject to a statute of limitations that limit the dates within which a lawsuit may be brought, and discrimination cases in particular have very short statutes of limitation, some as short as six months, so call without delay to ensure you do not waive your right to bring a lawsuit to enforce your rights.