How The Americans With Disabilities Act Protects You At Work

How The Americans With Disabilities Act Protects You At Work

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) outlaws employers from discriminating against you because of disabilities. The protections cover employees and applicants. They also cover hiring, promotion, pay, firing, and more. The ADA also protects you from being retaliated against when you enforce your employment rights. If you believe you were discriminated against at work due to a disability, our Inland Empire disability discrimination attorneys at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C., want to help you schedule an appointment for a free consultation.

Other Protections The ADA Provides

The ADA also mandates that employers offer ‘reasonable’ accommodations to employees who have disabilities if the accommodation does not cause the company undue hardship. The law details what is considered a disability and which workers are covered by it. Private companies with a minimum of 15 workers need to follow this law. However, many states have laws similar to the ADA that could cover smaller employers.

Who Are Covered Employees Under The ADA?

The law covers the following workers:

  • A worker with a disability: If the worker has a mental or physical impairment that limits a significant activity of life, they are covered by the law.
  • A worker with an impairment history: The company cannot discriminate against you because of a previous disability. For instance, if you recovered from cancer last year, the company cannot deny you a promotion based on the diagnosis.
  • A worker the company says is disabled: This is the case even if the company is incorrect and the worker is not disabled. If the company discriminates against you because of a wrong belief that you are disabled, you are covered by the ADA.

What Is A Disability Under The ADA?

In the ADA, a disability is a mental or physical impairment that limits one or more of your major life activities. A significant life activity has a broad definition in the law and includes walking, reading, bending, communicating, as well as many bodily functions. If the impairment does not significantly affect your ability to do a significant life activity, it is not considered a disability.

What Is A Qualified Worker?

The ADA states that the law covers only a qualified worker with a disability. A qualified worker who is disabled is a person who can do the significant duties of the job, with or without the employer making a reasonable accommodation.

The essential tasks of the job are those that are vital to the position. For instance, if you answer calls at a call center, your significant duties are talking, typing on the computer, and responding to customer complaints. However, if there are not many calls, you may need to file paperwork. Customer service work is considered essential, but filing paperwork is an ancillary duty.

What Is A Reasonable Accommodation?

The company must offer you reasonable accommodation if you are disabled according to the ADA. The modification or adjustment should allow you to do your work with a disability.

Unless your disability is obvious to your company, you have to request accommodation to do your job. The ADA does not require the company to research to learn if you have a disability. It also does not need to guess if you are disabled.

Further, the company is not required to offer one accommodation if you asked for another. But the company must be part of an interactive process with you about the accommodations needed to do your job.

What Is An Undue Hardship?

The firm does not need to give you a reasonable accommodation if that would create too much of a hardship. For example, an undue hardship in the ADA would cause a significant cost to the company.

Some factors that decide if the accommodation leads to an undue hardship are the cost and nature of the accommodation is; the money the company has; the nature of the company, and the costs already incurred for the accommodations at work.

If the costs of making an accommodation are too much for the organization, it is usually considered an undue hardship. This would not be required under the ADA. However, government statistics state that most accommodations only cost about $500. So, most companies have the ability to make accommodations for disabled workers.

The ADA Includes Confidentiality

The law also has detailed rules about confidentiality. Companies must keep the disabled worker’s medical information private. Medical records and related documents that have information about your disability have to be held in a secure file. This file must be separate from your regular personnel file. The company cannot tell anyone that a worker has asked for a reasonable accommodation.

However, the law does allow for the disclosure of disabilities in some cases. As a result, the company may disclose your confidential medical information in a few instances. These include to:

  • Your managers or supervisors need to know to discuss work restrictions and accommodations.
  • First responders and first-aid workers if your disability may need medical attention.
  • Government employees who are looking into the company’s ADA compliance.
  • To workers’ compensation organizations.
  • For purposes of medical or disability insurance.

In some situations, your voluntary disclosure of your disability will not be termed confidential according to the law. For example, if the worker tells a company about the disability without being asked and the worker is not asking for a reasonable accommodation at that moment.

Suppose a worker did not come to work, and his manager asked him in an email what was happening. The worker could mail back that he had significant headaches from an auto accident that sometimes made it hard to go to work. This disclosure was made voluntarily, so the employer is not required to keep this information confidential under the ADA.

Speak To Our Inland Empire Disability Discrimination Attorneys Today

If you think you were discriminated against at work because of a disability, you have rights under state and federal law. Law Office of Joseph Richards P.C. has experienced California discrimination attorneys who may be able to help you. Contact our Inland Empire disability discrimination attorneys now at (888) 883-6588. Our attorneys work with Riverside County, Orange County, and San Bernardino County clients.

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