It can be intimidating whether you want to acknowledge that you have a disability to your company. You may be wondering if you will get hired in a company or if you may get fired if you share you had a disability. There are quite a few disabilities that are “invisible,” or they are hard to notice. It’s up to you to decide if you want to share that you have a disability.
However, if you don’t let your HR staff know that you have a disability, you may not be able to get a “Reasonable Accommodation.” A Reasonable Accommodation is an accommodation that supports a disabled person to accomplish their work duties. For example, if you needed to take more breaks because you need to take medicine or give yourself an insulin shot. If you have vision problems, you could ask for equipment to enlarge the fonts on your computer screen.
Other examples of a Reasonable Accommodation are:
- Time off for cancer treatments
- Working from home because of your health issues
- Unpaid time off so you can take care of your health
- Training a service dog or guide dog
- Ergonomic chair due to your neck or back issues
- Being assigned within so many feet of a bathroom
- More extended lunch hour so you can take care of your medical issues
- Your desk is in a quieter location, so there are fewer disturbances
The EEOC states that companies with 15 or more employees are covered by the American Disability Act (ADA) laws. Disability discrimination also occurs when a covered employer or other entity treats an applicant or employee less favorably because he or she has a history of a disability (such as a past major depressive episode) or because he or she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he or she does not have such an impairment). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides guidance on Reasonable Accommodations.
If you are wondering if you should tell your HR department if you have a disability, consider that they can’t help you if you don’t share that you may need a Reasonable Accommodation. Another thing is that in the United States, many states are “at-will” states. Your company can fire you for basically anything. However, according to the EEOC, it’s illegal to discriminate against a disabled employee.
When you share that you have a disability or need a reasonable accommodation to do your work duties, you are informing your HR department that you are disabled. Always do it in writing.
If you experience discrimination due to your disabilities, contact the EEOC. You can talk to someone on the phone, submit your complaint through their internal system, or read up on how the EEOC addresses disability discrimination. You can also ask the EEOC for information on how to file disability discrimination in your state.
Everyone deserves to work in a safe and respectful work environment. Check out my other articles.