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What Are My Legal Options When Facing Discrimination?

It’s storytime again. Remember Deidrich Salazar? Of course you do! He was that adorable kid who was injured by a cinder block while traveling abroad during a school trip. There’s good news! He filed a very successful lawsuit and won millions of dollars in an international settlement. He had a great lawyer. 

Okay, there’s bad news too. Deidrich’s finances were placed in his mother’s control (because Deidrich’s mental faculties weren’t quite the same after his return from the hospital). She ran off to another country with no extradition arrangements with the U.S. — coincidentally the same country where Deidrich suffered his injuries in the first place. What a horrible twist of fate.

This led Deidrich’s adoptive father, Sebastian, to file for Social Security Disability Insurance on Deidrich’s behalf. Everything was going great until the administrator of the application papers caught Deidrich giving her a goofy smile she mistook for a leering, sideways glance. The administrator glared at him, then denied the application for SSDI. Sebastian caught the whole exchange. What legal options are available to him?

Well, discrimination based on disability is illegal. And since Deidrich is also African American, we don’t even know the source of the discrimination. We just know it’s terrible either way. We also know that Sebastian should speak to a discrimination lawyer right away. This would also be the case if Deidrich were capable of productive work, but denied a job based on his disability (or skin color). It would also be true if he were denied a meal at a restaurant, a haircut, or anything else due to his disability.

Usually, discrimination cases regarding job opportunities must first go through the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will decide how a specific complaint should be addressed according to the law. 

In Deidrich’s case, his adoptive father will likely have to file an “unfair treatment” complaint before considering a lawsuit — which may or may not be necessary and/or applicable in his adopted son’s situation. Unfair treatment is not the same as appealing a decision an administrator made, so keep in mind that you will need to appeal or reapply and hope for the best.

The first thing he should do, though, is speak with a disability or discrimination lawyer about why Deidrich was denied SSDI when the system should have approved the application. A lawyer can gather all the facts, find out what the administrator was thinking when she denied the application, and decide whether a lawsuit is appropriate.

Are you disabled? If you were denied a job, public accommodation, transportation, government services, or telecommunications requests, then you may be facing discrimination. You can find more information regarding disability discrimination via the Department of Justice ADA information line, but we recommend contacting a lawyer instead.

No one facing already facing terrible obstacles in life should have to contend with discrimination too. Many people decide to simply put up with it. We recommend fighting back.