Whether you got hurt on the job and were left with a disabling injury or you were born with a congenital medical condition that limits your function in one way or another, you have rights. All too often, Americans who have disabilities don’t stand up for themselves, particularly in workplace environments.
Examples of discrimination against workers with disabling conditions include refusing to hire workers with disabilities, refusing to accommodate existing workers who develop medical conditions that impact their work, and creating a hostile work environment for differently-abled workers. People often refer to this kind of discrimination as ableism.
Familiarizing yourself with your rights as a worker with a disabling medical condition can help you stand up for yourself and for others in the event that your employer doesn’t treat you properly. Your right to accommodation is one of the most important protections you have that can help you continue to work despite your condition.
As long as the company qualifies, your employer should accommodate you
Generally speaking, any business with 15 or more employees is subject to the rules put in place by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The rules set force in the ADA include an obligation for employers to provide reasonable accommodations for a worker with a medical condition that impacts how they perform the job.
Reasonable accommodations vary depending on the condition, the position and the business’ financial resources. The larger and more successful the company, the more substantial accommodations they can theoretically offer without incurring undue hardship. Undue hardship claims are typically the only reason why an employer can deny an accommodation request. If it will cost too much or detract from others being able to work, the specific accommodation requested may not be the best option.
Common accommodation requests include wheelchair ramps, accessibility equipment, changes in work responsibilities, extra breaks in compliance with medical recommendations and even unique scheduling or work-from-home accommodations. If you need new equipment or devices or to modify what you use for your job, your employer should assist with that, just like they should help ensure you can access workspaces and change company policies to reflect the accommodations you need.
If your employer refuses to accommodate you and instead terminates you or takes disciplinary action for requesting accommodations, you need to consider taking legal action to protect yourself and enforce your rights as an American with a disabling injury or illness.