If you live with a disability, you may find certain aspects of life more challenging. One of the most challenging things to deal with could be other people’s perception of you. While there is little you can do to control the perceptions a member of the general public might have, there are options when it comes to employers.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) exists to protect you from discrimination because of your disability. One of the areas it applies to is employment.
When must an employer abide by the ADA?
Once a company employs at least 15 workers, they must abide by the regulations set out in the ADA. They have a duty to avoid discriminating, not just against their current workers but against those applying for a role with them. It gives you protection in the following areas:
- Recruitment, hiring and firing
- Social activities
- Other privileges of employment
To qualify for its protection, you must be qualified for the job in question and able to perform the tasks involved, even if that requires your employer to make reasonable accommodations.
What are reasonable accommodations?
A person with a disability may need a few changes to be able to do a particular job. These could be changes to timing – for example, they need a few extra breaks throughout the day to inject themselves with their medications. Or they could be practical changes, such as ensuring they can access their desk in a wheelchair, sitting on a job where others stand, or having technology installed to allow them to voice type instead of type with their hands.
If you have a special request that will allow you to do your job more effectively – while remaining healthy – as a result of your disability, you should present it to your employer. The ADA usually requires that employers grant such requests, provided they don’t cause the employer “undue hardship.” Quite how to define that is not always clear. If your employer claims something will cost them too much or require too much change for others, they might be justified in refusing your request, but then again, they might not. Getting legal help to understand what the law expects in a particular situation can be helpful when questions and concerns arise.