You may have been born with a disability, or it may have developed later on in life. Either way, your disability should not prevent you from having a fulfilling career. If you have a disability, you are legally protected against workplace discrimination that can keep you from where you want to go.
Are you protected?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees with serious mental or physical impairments, individuals with have a history of disability and employees who are perceived to have a disability even if there is no actual disability.
In order to be protected by the ADA, you must be qualified for the job, and you need to be able to perform essential job functions.
What are your rights?
The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against you due to your disability in matters regarding hiring, firing, promotions, training, compensation and other employment conditions.
Additionally, your employer must make “reasonable accommodations” to help you perform your job, as long as they do not cause the company “undue hardship.” Accommodations vary depending upon your disability and need. They could include ramps to facilitate wheelchair access, interpreters, extended time limits to complete tasks or specialized equipment.
Employers are not required to provide accommodation if it diminishes the company’s quality or production standards, or if it causes them financial distress.
What can you do?
Discuss your needs with your employer. They do not have to provide reasonable accommodation for your disability until you ask for it. You and your employer should work together to find a solution that works for you and the company.
If your employer refuses to accommodate you, speak up. It is illegal for your company to retaliate against you for filing a complaint or for taking legal action against them.
If you have experienced workplace discrimination due to your disability, consider contacting an attorney who will be able to walk you through the process of filing a complaint and gaining fair accommodation.