Disability discrimination comes in many forms. Some people with visible disabilities, like those who rely on wheelchairs or crutches, may find that they struggle to get a job. Even if they have all the skills and education a position requires, employers always know about their disability after an interview and may let their biases affect their hiring decisions.
Others, including those who already have a job at the time of their injury or diagnosis, will experience a workplace slowly becoming unsafe or difficult to navigate. Sometimes, co-workers or management can engage in abusive behavior and cruel jokes that create a hostile work environment for a worker with a disabling medical condition. They may resent that person’s absence or suspect that they have exaggerated how much of an impact their condition really has on their work.
However, it is often the formal policies of an employer that make it hard for a worker to stay on the job with a medical disability. When a company doesn’t support workers with disabling medical conditions, they may open themselves up to employment lawsuits.
Companies often refuse reasonable accommodation requests
There are certain workplace protections that apply to most private employers. Among them is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which requires that companies not consider people’s medical conditions when making employment decisions like who to hire and who to promote.
The ADA also requires that employers accommodate workers with disabling medical conditions. A worker can present a note from their doctor or another professional to justify their request for accommodations such receive support from their employer. Common requests include a ramp to physically accept the building, changes in their job responsibilities or assistive technology.
Although some accommodations can create financial hardship for small businesses, many employers can absorb those expenses with little hardship. The company can only decline a reasonable accommodation request if it can show that it would cause undue hardship for the company.
Denied accommodations can make work impossible for some
If you experience debilitating pain because of a repetitive motion injury, asking for different job responsibilities is reasonable. If your employer refuses and demands that you continue doing the same job, you may ultimately only worsen your condition. Workers denied reasonable accommodation requests may need to hold their employers accountable for the violation of their rights inherent in that denial.
Learning more about different kinds of workplace discrimination can help you fight back when you are the target.