When you work but have a disability, there may be times when you do need additional supports. For example, if you have a disability from a chronic health condition, you may go months without needing any special accommodations but then need some for at least a short time.
It is against the law for your employer to discriminate against you because of your disability. They need to provide reasonable accommodations for you when doing so won’t have a significant negative impact on their business.
Who is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The ADA protects those who have mental or physical impairments that substantially limit them in one or more areas of their life. For example, if they have impaired breathing from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma, then they may be protected under the ADA.
Before the ADA protects these people, it must be shown that they can perform the essential functions of their work when they do or do not have accommodations in place. They also have to be qualified to work in the position. If so, then they are protected and their employer should offer reasonable accommodations to them.
What are reasonable accommodations, and when can an employer refuse them?
Reasonable accommodations are any adjustments that can be made to help those with disabilities be able to have equal employment opportunities. The kinds of accommodations that are needed may vary significantly. For example, someone with asthma may ask to adjust their work area away from fumes, or someone with a depressive episode may ask if they could work from home (when that’s possible for the position).
Employers can refuse to offer accommodations when it would lead to undue hardships. For example, if the accommodation would be extremely expensive, impact the business’s ability to conduct normal business activities or would overwhelm the financial resources of a small business.
In most cases, reasonable requests should not be denied to someone with a disabling condition. The ADA does not allow discrimination based on a disability, so employers must make an effort to provide accommodations when they’re needed by someone applying for a job or working for them now.