If you navigate life with a disability, understanding your rights in the workplace is vital to unlocking your full potential. A shield against discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), helps level the field.
Although the ADA became law in 1990, it remains misunderstood by many on both sides of employment relationships. It’s important to know the truth to help ensure that you and your employer separate misconception from truth.
It is not charity or privilege
The ADA is not a handout or charity. It is a legal assurance of equal access in the workplace. If you have a disability that substantially limits a major life activity (such as seeing, hearing or walking), you have the protection of the ADA. Employers who say otherwise may have misinterpreted federal and/or Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws.
It doesn’t need to disadvantage employers
Employees with a disability may request changes to help them be productive, such as flexible hours or assistive technology. Employers can refuse if granting accommodations would result in unaffordable costs or other undue hardships. However, they may not refuse to implement reasonable accommodations if it would cause them no undue harm.
When employers resist or retaliate
Most employers want to hire and support qualified workers with disabilities, but inaccurate knowledge and misconceptions can lead to employment disputes. Talk with your employer about your needs and share information about your rights.
They may be willing to work with you toward a solution, but if they resist or strike at you for exercising your rights, you may have a bigger problem than anticipated. Legal guidance can help you decide how to move forward.