As an employee with a disability, it’s essential to be aware of your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Not only does this law and its amendments protect you against discrimination, but it also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to help you perform essential job functions.
Here are the 10 critically important employment laws that you should be aware of for ADA compliance.
1. Your Employer Can’t Discriminate Against You Because of a Disability
The ADA protects employees against workplace discrimination based on their disabilities. This means that your employer can’t mistreat you or justify adverse action against you because of your disability. If you believe you were fired, denied a promotion, or are generally mistreated at work because of your disability, you should consult with a disability discrimination attorney who can help you understand and assert your rights.
2. Employees Are Protected from Harassment
All laws that prohibit disability discrimination also prohibit harassment on the basis of disability. Employers are obligated to take reports of disability harassment seriously, which means thoroughly investigating the report and taking meaningful action to resolve the problem. Employers who fail to do so may foster a hostile work environment and become liable for damages.
3. Employers Must Make Reasonable Accommodations
Sometimes, an employee’s disability can impede their ability to perform necessary job functions without the aid of some form of accommodation. For example, an employee may require dictation software to compose documents or require a seating arrangement that accommodates a mobility device.
Employers are obligated to make reasonable accommodation to aid employees with disabilities in performing their job responsibilities unless doing so would pose an undue burden or significantly alter the essential functions of the job.
4. Employees Aren’t Responsible for Providing Their Own Accommodation
When an employee’s request for accommodation involves new equipment or tools, such as furniture or software, the employee isn’t responsible for providing these assets. Instead, employers must afford all costs associated with accommodating an employee’s disability; if accommodating the disability under these circumstances would pose an undue hardship upon the employer, then the employer may negotiate for alternative accommodation to assist the employee.
5. Employees with Disabilities Are Protected from Retaliation
Employees are protected from retaliation on the basis of their disability. This means no employer can take adverse action against an employee with a disability because they learned about the disability, received a report of disability discrimination, or received a request to accommodate an employee’s disability.
Adverse action may include general mistreatment of an employee, denying them a raise or promotion, or even termination. Such actions may not take the employee’s disability into account.
6. Employers May Not Require Medical Examinations
Generally, employers may not require employees to undergo medical examinations or make disability-related inquiries. Exceptions can apply if these are directly related to the employee’s job and are consistent with business necessity, but these exceptions are rare.
7. Employees with Disabilities Are Entitled to Confidentiality
When an employer is aware of an employee’s medical condition or disability, they must maintain confidentiality of that information and only share it on a need-to-know basis. Not only could revealing an employee’s medical information constitute a violation of the ADA, but it would also likely violate HIPAA.
8. Employees with Disabilities Can’t Receive Disparate Pay
When employees perform the same or substantially similar roles, employers are prohibited from paying employees with disabilities less than their colleagues. Disparate pay practices that take disability into account are illegal.
9. The ADA Protects Employees with Psychiatric Disabilities
Under the ADA, employees aren’t only protected when they have physical disabilities or medical conditions. Psychiatric disabilities, which may also be referred to as mental health disabilities, are also protected. These disabilities may affect an employee’s mood, cognition, and/or behavior, and examples can include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and many others.
10. Independent Contractors Are Also Protected
While most employment laws consider employees alone, ADA protections extend to independent contractors and temporary employees who work for a company that has at least 15 employees. If you are working for someone under these circumstances, you enjoy the same protections against disability discrimination as other employees.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
Being informed about employment laws helps employees with disabilities understand their legal rights and ensure that they receive equal treatment under the law.
Remember that as an employee with a disability, you are entitled to reasonable accommodation that enables you to perform essential job duties, and employers must make an effort to provide them. You are also protected against unfair treatment and mistreatment at work. When in doubt, seek legal guidance and advocate for your rights.
Contact Beal Sutherland Berlin & Brown for the legal support you require.