If you are like many with a disabling medical condition, the term “disability” can be frustrating to hear. Unlike past generations, advances in medicine, therapies and methods of accessibility make it possible for those with physical and mental challenges to fully participate in life, including finding a job and pursuing a satisfying career. This may be your intention, but you may already be facing common roadblock in the workplace.
Despite being well–qualified for a position at work, your permanent, chronic or long-term disability may prevent you from performing the duties of that position without certain adjustments. Did you know that you have the right to request those modifications of your employer? In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act protects your right to obtain reasonable accommodations that remove some of the inherent barriers in the workplace that may prevent you from doing your job excellently.
What is reasonable?
A reasonable accommodation may not place any undue hardship on your employer or require special treatment that other employees do not receive. For example, if your company’s break room is difficult for you to access, you may ask your employer to provide a more convenient place for you to take your breaks. However, you may not request that your employer build you a new break room or require all your co-workers to join you there for lunch.
Since only you know what accommodations will allow you to do your job well, you may want to make a list of those you believe will not create a hardship for your employer. It may be as simple as a more flexible schedule to allow for medical appointments, a quieter work area, or special equipment for visual or auditory deficiencies. However, your situation may require more complex accommodations.
How do I get these accommodations?
Ideally, your California employer will be eager to discretely discuss the possible accommodations that will improve your work environment. If this is the case, presenting your suggestions and collaborating with your employer should produce the outcome you are seeking. You will also want to discuss with your employer whether your co-workers should be aware of your condition and how to address questions about your accommodations.
You may have to negotiate, and your employer may need time to facilitate your accommodations, but the law is on your side as long as your requests are reasonable.