The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers people with disabilities legal protections to help ensure that they have equal opportunities in the workplace. Asking for accommodations isn’t asking for special privileges. It’s merely asking for a “level playing field” that allows you to do your job as well as the next person.
Unfortunately, that’s not how some employers see it. Those with disabilities still face challenges in getting those accommodations.
Your employer is expected to engage in meaningful negotiations
Typically, when an employee asks for reasonable accommodations under the ADA, employers are expected to open a dialogue and work with you to reach some workable solution whenever possible. When employers don’t want to make accommodations, however, they may find ways to try to avoid their responsibilities. That can include:
- Failing to respond: Once you make your employer aware that you have a disability that needs accommodation, your employer may simply ignore the situation in hopes that you won’t push any further for your rights.
- Refusing to discuss options: Your employer may try to discourage you from pursuing the issue by saying that your proposed accommodations are just too costly or inconvenient without any willingness to consider any alternatives.
- Resisting documentation: ADA accommodations require documentation, so an employer who wants to do things “informally” may be trying to hide any record of your disability so that it’s difficult for you to challenge them if there’s a dispute.
- Failing to implement: Your employer may reluctantly agree to accommodations, but lack of follow-through is the same as not agreeing in the first place.
- Creating a hostile environment: Some employers don’t value inclusivity, and they actively resent having to make accommodations. They may engage in actions that outright encourage employees with disabilities to quit.
Working when you have a disability can be immensely challenging, but it’s easier when you have a cooperative employer. If your employer is being anything but cooperative, it may be time to explore your legal options.