Federal and state laws protect workers against various types of employment discrimination. Discrimination based on medical conditions and physical disabilities can deprive individuals of an opportunity to support themselves and contribute to society because of a medical issue outside of their control.
Disability discrimination, like all other forms of discrimination, can come in many different forms. Some workers experience a hostile work environment. Coworkers constantly make fun of them, or management does not treat them with the respect that other workers receive. Other times, disability discrimination involves denied opportunities or the company factoring in a worker’s disability when making decisions about layoffs and promotions.
One of the most common and damaging forms of disability discrimination is a company’s refusal to accommodate a worker’s medical condition when they want to continue working.
Workers have the right to reasonable accommodations
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enshrined protections at the federal level for workers with disabling medical conditions. Among those protections is the right to request reasonable accommodations from an employer to continue working. Essentially, the worker can ask the business for special support to do their job.
Reasonable accommodations can be vastly different for different medical conditions. Some people may simply need an opportunity to do their job remotely so that they can work from home where they have specialized medical equipment. Others will need a change of job responsibilities or ergonomic support to reduce the damage caused by their job tasks.
Changes to the building where someone works and more accessible spaces are also among the accommodations of workers should be able to expect from their employer. Unless the requested change would impose an undue hardship on the company, the worker should be able to ask for help so that they can continue doing their job or accept gainful employment despite the limitations created by their medical condition.
When businesses refuse to accommodate workers who have documentation of their condition, that refusal may constitute disability discrimination. Workers denied reasonable support that would allow them to continue their employment and protect themselves from further bodily harm may potentially have grounds to bring a claim against their employer.
Fighting back against disability discrimination can help protect your career and will also help protect the rights of others working at the same company as well.