If you have a disability, it does not mean you cannot work in the same job you held before becoming disabled or in another job you are qualified for. Federal law recognizes this and provides protections for disabled employees in the workplace. However federal law also recognizes that employers have rights and interests to when it comes to workers with disabilities.
Protecting disabled employees
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects disabled employees. Under the Act, qualified employees or job applicants cannot be treated unfavorably in the workplace due to their disability. This means they cannot be discriminated based on their disability in hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, layoffs, pay and other conditions of employment.
The Act also makes it unlawful for disabled employees to be harassed at work to the extent the harassment creates a hostile work environment or leads to an adverse employment decision.
Reasonable accommodations and undue hardship
Under the Act, employers must provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations so they can perform the jobs they are qualified for. It is generally expected that there may be some costs incurred in providing a reasonable accommodation that an employer must incur.
However, employers do not need to provide an accommodation that would cause them to incur an undue hardship. An undue hardship is something that would impair a significant difficulty or expense upon the employer. What constitutes an undue hardship is based on how big the employer is, the employer’s financial resources and business needs.
Disabled employees and their employers can work together to come up with a reasonable accommodation that meets both their needs. If either party has questions about disability discrimination and how it affects them, they can seek legal advice.