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What Is Disability Harassment?


According to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1992, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a person due to his or her disability. This includes such practices as failing to hire or promote, unfair disciplinary actions and refusing to make accommodations so the disabled individual can perform the job duties as well as someone with no disabilities. It also requires wages and benefits to be the same for equally qualified employees.

Some Employers May be Exempt

Exceptions to the DDA are possible when the disabled person could not perform the job even with accommodations. However, it is incumbent upon the employer to offer accommodations unless it causes an undue financial hardship. Small businesses and employers can claim an exemption more readily because installing adaptive equipment for the disabled employee would pose a greater financial hardship.

How Disability Harassment is Legally Defined

The legal definition of workplace harassment due to a disability is when a disabled individual is treated less favorably than a non-disabled individual would be treated in the same situation. The definition also includes instances of indirect discrimination. This is discrimination not directly targeted at an individual, but which nonetheless has an unfair effect on him or her.

A Workplace Example

For example, indirect discrimination occurs when all employees in a department are required to take an online exam to prove job knowledge and an employee with a visual impairment is not offered accommodations for his or her disability. This would include such things as extra-large print, someone reading the questions or more time to complete the exam. By holding the visually impaired employee to the same standards as non-disabled employees, the employer is guilty of indirect discrimination.

An employer who is interviewing several people for an open position must evaluate each one’s qualifications for the job independently of any real or perceived disability.



Anderson, David A.. “Harassment of the Disabled: A Workplace Issue.” Law Library | Legal Professional. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.

“REMINDER: HARASSMENT BASED ON DISABILITY IS WRONG, ILLEGAL .” U.S. Department of Education . N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2011. <>.

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