Could an employer’s discrimination against you for having autism be illegal?

Many employers avoid extending reasonable accommodations required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because they worry that it will be too costly or logistically challenging to do. That doesn’t excuse them from reviewing the needs of their employees and seeing what it is that they can implement, though.

Government officials have discovered a newfound interest in hiring people with autism.

What attributes do workers with autism offer that others perhaps cannot?

Researchers in 2018 focused on the benefits that cybersecurity government agencies can derive from hiring individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The researchers noted that employers were starting to see that individuals with ASD were meeting and sometimes exceeding other employees’ capabilities.

Some of the areas the researchers discovered that individuals with ASD excelled in were concentration and attention to detail. This attribute allowed them to understand connections between concepts, which made them particularly well-suited for computer-based roles.

Mentoring and supervision are key

The researchers found that many employers allow misinformation about autism to cloud their perspective on whether employees with autism are suitable for their team. The researchers point out that many employers don’t realize that autism is a developmental disorder with many variants. No two people with autism are the same.

One other discovery that the researchers made is that these employees benefit from mentorship and supervision. Mentors should be knowledgeable enough about autism to tailor their training of workers to master material and tap into their skill set. Supervisors should be able to step in to help with workers’ interpersonal communication and in other areas that a particular employee may have issues with.

What should you do if you faced workplace discrimination because of your autism?

Employers often worry about physical things they may need to do or buy to accommodate their workers with disabilities. Having employees with autism may be more about training staff to accommodate their sensitivities more effectively. Doing so may add value to their organization. You may have a valid disability discrimination claim if your employer fails to take basic steps to accommodate your needs.