If you are living with a disability, you probably work hard to maintain your independence and overcome the many obstacles you face each day. Fortunately, many government agencies have established laws to protect your right to access the same places and opportunities available to those without disabilities. This includes the workplace.
An employer who posts a job for which you are qualified has the responsibility to consider your qualifications apart from any disability you may have. A disability that does not prevent you from performing the essential duties of the job may simply require your employer to make reasonable accommodations so that you can successfully do the work. However, not every employer understands that refusing to make such accommodations may be a form of employment discrimination.
What should I expect from an employer?
You meet the employer’s requirements for the job. You have the appropriate education, certification, licensing and experience. However, you also have a substantial impairment that affects your ability to do major life activities, such as walking, seeing, breathing or others. With certain modifications to your job or its environment, you believe you can successfully perform the tasks essential to the job. Some examples of reasonable modifications may include the following:
- Adjusting the physical layout of the workspace
- Providing equipment for visual or auditory impairment
- Modifying your work schedule
- Hiring the services of an interpreter or reader
- Restructuring the non-essential components of your job
What an employee may not do is to fire, demote, refuse to promote or refuse to hire you simply because you have an impairment. During your job interview, an employer may not ask about your disability but may inquire about the kinds of accommodations you would require to perform the essential tasks of the job. Only if it is necessary for your job or required uniformly can your employer subject you to a medical exam.
What if I feel discriminated against?
If you believe a Kentucky employer has failed to comply with the laws protecting you from disability discrimination, you have options. You have the right to seek a remedy that may include obtaining the position for which you are qualified or the reasonable accommodations you need for success at your job, among other things.
Many in your situation have found that reaching out to an attorney is a positive step in fighting the discrimination that holds them back from reaching their goals in the workplace.