Just because someone has a disability does not mean that they are incapable of performing skilled jobs. In fact, many workers with physical disabilities work hard to educate themselves as a means of offsetting the difficulties caused by a disability.
Unfortunately, some employers can’t see past the physical trappings of a disability to the potential of a worker perfectly suited for their company. When a company chooses to overlook the skills of a disabled employee or potential new employee because of their disability, it may due to purposeful discrimination; a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Educated and skilled workers with disabilities often find themselves facing obstacles when seeking employment or attempting to move forward with their careers.
Thankfully, federal employment laws mandate that most employers accommodate disabled workers. They must provide reasonable accommodations and refrain from discrimination in their hiring, promotion and termination processes.
Workers with a wide range of physical conditions and disabilities receive federal protections as a result of their diagnoses. Specifically, both employers and landlords should not engage in any sort of discrimination against disabled individuals. Landlords and employers should not consider disability when making decisions about housing or employing an individual.
More importantly, employers should provide reasonable accommodations for workers who need assistive technology or special consideration in order to fulfill the obligations of a job. Reasonable accommodations can look like many different things.
For a worker in a wheelchair, it can look like a ramp to the front door and a first-floor office. For workers with joint issues, extra breaks or special chairs could be adequate accommodations.
The exact needs will vary depending on the position and the disability involved. Unless the accommodation represents an undue hardship for the employer, the business should make every effort to accommodate a disabled worker.
Everyone would like to believe that their employer will do the right thing when confronted with a difficult situation, such as an employee who needs disability-related accommodations. Unfortunately, not all companies live up to this ideal.
Any worker who must request accommodation should do so in writing. Retaining digital or printed copies of all communications related to accommodation requests is a good idea. This way, you can prove that you made the requests and whether your employer took them seriously.
If you face retaliation, such as poor job performance reviews or even the loss of your position, you may be able to use the documentation to substantiate a claim that your employer penalized you for requesting reasonable accommodations. Any documentation you have can only help if you choose to push back against discrimination you have faced as a result of a disabling medical condition.