You may have learned long ago that having a disability does not mean you are unable to live the life you want to live. However, you simply cannot carry out certain actions, and that often means finding ways to adapt.
The same is true at home and in the workplace. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, you can seek employment in your field of training and knowledge knowing that the law allows you to request reasonable accommodations so you can get the job done. It is important that you understand the protections included in the ADA so you know your rights and can recognize when an employer is violating those rights.
Adapting at work
The ADA allows you to request reasonable accommodations of an employer. These accommodations can allow you to perform the essential roles of a position for which you are otherwise qualified because of your education, training, experience, certification or other means. As long as the accommodations you seek do not cause your employer undue hardship, such as excessive expense or extreme difficulty, he or she must comply with your request, such as:
- Providing modifications, equipment or interpreters for visual or hearing impairments
- Restructuring your duties
- Modifying your schedule
- Moving you to a vacant position that would more adequately fit your abilities
- Reorganizing the workplace
- Adjusting policies, such as if you require the assistance of a service animal
Any accommodations you need in order to perform the essentials of your job must come at the expense of your employer. If your employer asks you to pay for the adaptations, he or she is in violation of your rights under the ADA.
Your protections under ADA
You have the right to reasonable accommodations at any phase in the employment process, and you have the right to work free from discrimination based on your disability. Your employer may not ask about your condition or require you to take a medical exam that other employees are not required to take and cannot fire or refuse to hire you simply because of your disability. However, an employer may refuse to hire someone whose disability poses an immediate safety risk that accommodations will not eliminate.
If your employer refuses to make reasonable accommodations or you feel an employer is discriminating against you because of your disability, you have the right to seek legal advice about the options available to you under the ADA.