If you've faced employment discrimination in the workplace or public accommodations you'll want to speak with a disability discrimination attorney. You may have a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An experienced attorney will know if your rights have been violated and how best to resolve your claim. Here's how you can find an experienced lawyer to help you.
Consult with Several Attorneys
You'll want to interview several attorneys. Look for an experienced attorney you feel comfortable talking to.
An experienced attorney:
- Understands all the issues in your case. There may be more than just an ADA claim
- Is efficient at investigating your case, preparing witnesses and transacting court business
- Knows how to negotiate effectively to resolve your case if possible without going to court
You should expect an experienced disabilities lawyer to have an accessible office and accommodations for your disabilities. It would be odd if this isn't the case.
You will want to know about the lawyer's general qualifications and experience. Ask:
- How long have you been practicing?
- When did you start working on disability discrimination cases?
- How many cases have you worked on? Settled? Tried?
- How many cases do you handle at once?
- Will I deal primarily with you, or with an assistant?
- Do you handle other types of discrimination cases, or other types of cases at all?
- What professional associations do you belong to, and what certifications do you have?
You will also want the lawyer's opinion of your case. Ask:
- What result might I expect?
- How will I pay your fee? What about the costs as the case goes on?
- Am I responsible for any fees or costs if you're not successful?
Under the ADA and some state laws, you're entitled to recover your attorney's fees if you win. This is in addition to whatever money the court or a jury awards you. Keep this in mind in discussing fees and costs.
When You've Been Discriminated Against
Your options in a discrimination case depend sometimes on who has harmed you.
If you've been discriminated against in employment, inform the employer. The employer may correct the problem and satisfy your complaint. If not, you need to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You or your lawyer can do this. It's very important. You must do this within 180 days of the discrimination or you won't be allowed to sue. You also won't be allowed to sue until you file an EEOC complaint.
Public Facilities Discrimination
If you've been discriminated against by a public facility you can file a lawsuit. A court can order a halt to the discrimination. A court can also order the facility to make accommodations for your and others' disabilities. But a court can't order the public facility to pay you money.
You may have suffered discrimination in transportation. If the discrimination occurred in a public transit system you can file a lawsuit. In addition you can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation.
You can also file a lawsuit against a private bus or van service. In addition, you may file a complaint against the service with your state's attorney general's office or the state department regulating transportation.
What Happens after You Complain?
It's possible you'll receive a favorable outcome simply by bringing the discrimination to the attention of the employer, business or facility. People tend to take things seriously when contacted by a lawyer. This is particularly the case with accommodations complaints. Although others may have experienced the same problem, you may have been first to complain. If a reasonable accommodation can be made, it's pointless for the business or facility to resist.
Unfortunately many cases aren't solved so easily. Be prepared to proceed to court and litigate. From that point your case will proceed like thousands of others, one step at a time. The sides will develop and exchange evidence. Your opponent will file a motion for summary judgment challenging your disability and whether a reasonable accommodation exists. If your claim heads past this stage towards trial, there's a good chance of settling things.
This process will take time. If you've selected a good discrimination attorney your time most likely won't be wasted.
Questions for Your Attorney
- I didn't realize it at the time, but my employer discriminated against me in offering a promotion to an able-bodied colleague nine months ago. Does the 180-day limitation apply to me?
- My employer seems genuine in its offer to find an accommodation for my disability. Do I still need a lawyer?
- If my case settles before trial, does the other side still pay my attorney's fees?