According to the U.S. Bureau of labor statistics, only 17.5% of Americans with a disability were employed in 2015. In comparison, the employment rate is 65% for workers without disabilities. In addition, workers with a disability are twice as likely to be a part-time worker. This indicates that more needs to be done to make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers in the workplace. When in doubt, disabled workers should consult a disability lawyer to help know their rights. That way, you can take advantage of protections for disables workers under the law. You can also avoid harassment in the workplace, or workplace retaliation. So what are your rights as a worker with a disability?
The American Disabilities Act Protects Disabled Workers
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants or employees with disabilities. The ADA protects employees in all aspects of employment. This includes hiring, pay, promotion, firing, and more. The law also protects disabled employees from retaliation when they enforce their rights under the law. You may need the help of a disability lawyer to make sure your employer follows the law.
What Is a Disability?
A disability lawyer defines the term disability under the ADA act as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Most lawyers do not consider a person with a temporary ailment to be disabled.
A major life activity includes basic tasks like walking, communicating, or carrying items. It also includes major body functions, such as respiratory, circulatory, and digestive functions. The fact that the regulations leave out a particular activity does not prevent it from being a major life activity.
If your impairment does not significantly limit your ability to perform major life activities, the ADA may not protect you. Employees should contact a disability lawyer if there are any issues or questions about your disability status.
How Does a Disability Affect Employment?
Every job consists of essential tasks and duties that a worker must perform. These essential duties are fundamental to the job position. These duties are why the employer created the job. If you can perform these essential duties, then the ADA protects you if you develop a disability.
Reasonable Accommodation for a Disabled Employee
If you have a disability, but you can still perform the essential duties of the job with assistance, an employer must accommodate you. For example, you may need a stool to sit on, or a hand brace. The ADA and employment lawyers call this help reasonable accommodation. An accommodation is considered reasonable if it does not cause an undue hardship on the employer.
When It Becomes an Undue Hardship
Opinions about what is undue hardship can differ. If your employer believes that the accommodation is not reasonable, they can argue that it would be too difficult or expensive for them to implement. In our example, the employer may believe the stool is too expensive. In certain cases, an employer may not have to provide the accommodation to an employee. The term undue hardship means a significant difficulty or expense to the business.
Disability lawyers look at many factors to determine if an accommodation creates an undue hardship. Employment lawyers consider the cost and resources needed to accommodate the employee. A disability lawyer would also look at the size, structure, and resources of the employer to see whether the accommodation is an undue hardship.
An Expert Disability Lawyer Can Help
In short, the best way for a disabled worker to understand their rights is to speak with a competent disability lawyer. They can help workers with disabilities understand what their employers can legally expect from them. An employment lawyer can also help obtain reasonable accommodations if your employer is unwilling to help.
The Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard are committed to helping disabled workers safeguard their rights to the fullest extent possible. Contact us today to find out more.