All workers have a right to work in a safe environment that is free of discrimination. They have this right regardless of the color of their skin, their religion or their ability.
Both federal and Texas laws make it clear that disability discrimination is illegal. However, these laws also establish a worker’s right to accommodations in the workplace if they have a disability. Workers need to understand these rights, so they can protect them.
Reasonable accommodations apply to every aspect of a job
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has two main functions:
- It prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities; and
- It requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities.
These accommodations can affect almost every aspect of a job, including:
- Hiring: Employers may have to adjust the hiring process or training materials. For example, they might make materials audible or in Braille for a blind individual.
- Job duties: Employers may also have to restructure the job. This could involve modifying how the worker completes the duties or the work schedule. For example, individuals diagnosed with multiple sclerosis often suffer from fatigue. They may need more breaks throughout the workday to rest or a place to sit while working.
- Work environment: And employers might also have to modify the work environment, such as adding ramps to increase accessibility for an employee in a wheelchair or allowing service animals on the work campus.
These modifications are meant to remove barriers in the workplace and help all qualified employees do their job.
What does “reasonable” mean?
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an accommodation is reasonable if it is:
- Possible for the employer to make these adjustments; and
- Necessary for the employee to successfully complete their job.
This is critical to understand because many employers might try to claim that making accommodations would be too expensive or too difficult. While employers can claim undue hardship to avoid making accommodations, these claims are rarely successful. Most accommodations cost nothing or are relatively inexpensive.
That is why workers must understand their rights under the ADA. Then, they can protect themselves against unfair employers and discrimination.