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Can my employer discriminate against me because it thinks I’m disabled, even if I don’t think I am?

Yes- it’s called “regarded as” disability discrimination.  This occurs when your employer treats you as though you were disabled and then discriminates against you on that basis, regardless of your actual status.  The idea is that the act of disability discrimination per se is unlawful and even if the person who suffers from this treatment is not in fact disabled under the law, the employer cannot use disability as a basis for adverse employment actions.

In an interesting case out of Maryland recently, a judge held that an employee may have suffered discrimination on the basis of “regarded as” disability. The employee had eye surgery, and presented her employer with a note from her doctor stating that she could return to work on a certain date.  The employer’s physician, however, opined that she was too limited in her abilities to be able to perform her job at all.  She was subsequently terminated from her employment. The court held that the claim should not be dismissed, because the employee had properly alleged that she suffered disability discrimination even if she herself did not consider herself disabled.

Think you’ve been the victim of discrimination? Contact the Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore