Living with a disability brings challenges to every aspect of one’s life. If you have a disability, it can be harder for you to carry out your essential employment duties than it is for your coworkers. Fortunately, there are ways in which the law allows you to request assistance from your employer in order to for you to work more effectively.
What does the law require of employers?
There are both Wisconsin state and federal laws that protect the rights of workers with disabilities. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal statute that prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities. It prevents employers from segregating jobs or taking away privileges or positions based solely on someone’s disabilities.
The ADA also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for their disabled employees. The purpose of this requirement is to allow a disabled employee to have the same employment opportunities that a non-disabled person would have. Accommodations are measures that an employer takes to make the disabled employee more comfortable, safe and productive despite the constraints of their disability.
What constitutes a reasonable accommodation?
An accommodation is reasonable if it doesn’t place an overly restrictive burden on the employer. There is no hard and fast rule as to how much an employer has to spend on an accommodation, since a measure that is prohibitively expensive for a small business might be easily feasible for a large corporation. The reasonableness of a requested accommodation is decided on a case-by-case basis if an employee brings the matter before a court in a discrimination lawsuit.
For example, if you are sight-impaired, you can request that your employer provide screen reading software that allows you to use a computer easily. If you use a wheelchair, your employer can install ramps to allow you easy access to the building, the bathroom and other necessary facilities. If you are unable to stand for long periods of time, your employer might modify your job duties to allow you the ability to sit while you work.
An unreasonable accommodation might be something that costs the employer an excessive amount of time or money to accomplish. For example, your employer will probably not be required to remodel the building or hire someone else to perform a substantial amount of your job duties for you.
Disabled employees have to face unique challenges in the workplace. Fortunately, as long as your request is reasonable, your employer must provide you with what you need to be able to do your job effectively. If you believe you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace, Alan C. Olson & Associates can help.