Federal laws protect the rights of those with disabling medical conditions. Neither educational institutions and landlords nor employers should discriminate against those with medical needs. Although such rules are important for the protection of those with disabling and chronic medical conditions, they can be hard to enforce.
Especially if individuals aren’t fully aware of their rights or about how disability discrimination manifests, they may have a hard time asserting themselves. Workers who develop disabling medical conditions might fail to make use of their most basic protection, which is the right to request reasonable accommodations so that they can continue working.
Unfortunately, refusing to accommodate workers is arguably among the most common forms of disability discrimination.
What does the law say?
Federal rules are intentionally broad so that they can apply to the largest number of scenarios possible. Employers need to provide reasonable accommodations for workers who are capable of performing a job with those accommodations. Exactly what accommodations someone requires will depend on their medical condition and the kind of work that they perform.
For some workers, doing their job remotely is the simplest and easiest accommodation. For others, there may be assistive technology required. Employers may need to provide ergonomic support or machinery to make a job easier and less painful for a worker to perform.
Other accommodations might include changing someone’s job responsibilities, adding a wheelchair-accessible bathroom or building a ramp to allow someone who requires mobility assistance to access the facility.
How employers refuse accommodations
There are several ways that companies effectively refuse to accommodate workers with disabling medical conditions. In some cases, they might outright refuse a worker directly when they make the request, possibly by claiming that the accommodation is not reasonable and would cause an undue hardship for the company.
Other times, they may agree at first to accommodate a worker but then never follow through on those promises. Other times, they may initially comply with certain requests and then start pressuring a worker to stop making use of the supports or start returning lower performance evaluations as a way to push the worker out of the company and end their accommodations.
Anyone who needs to assert their rights and request support from their employer may need assistance in doing so. Others may need help fighting back when their employer unfairly punishes them for asserting their basic rights. Understanding what kind of company conduct may constitute disability discrimination can help you fight back against it.