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How should your employer deal with your disability?

Finding a job is not easy for many people, and if you have a disability, you may struggle even more than most. You may have the appropriate education, adequate experience and the necessary skills to succeed at the job you want. Nevertheless, getting potential employers to look past your disability may be a challenge.

Whether you have recently suffered an accident or illness that has left you with a disability, or you have lived with your condition most of your life, you have the right to fair consideration for any job for which you are qualified. Once an employer hires you, the law requires him or her to make any reasonable accommodations you request.

What accommodations are reasonable?

If your disability is obvious, such as using a wheelchair or being blind, your employer may recognize the need to make certain adjustments for you. However, you may have a disability that your employer cannot readily see, such as having diabetes, cancer or a mental illness. If you want your employer to make accommodations for you in this case, you will have to request them.

Accommodations are not special treatment. They should not place an undue burden on your colleagues, nor should they present a hardship for your employer. For example, you may not request that your co-workers complete your assignments for you, and your employer may find it a hardship to build an elevator for you. However, some common reasonable accommodations include the following:

  • Modifying building entrances and rest rooms
  • Reorganizing the layout of your work area
  • Providing accessible computer software and monitors if you have a visual or auditory impairment
  • Providing braille materials or sign language interpreters for documents and meetings
  • Modifying your work schedule to allow for medical treatment or counseling
  • Allowing your trained service dog in the office
  • Providing ergonomic office furniture, which may benefit other employees as well

These simple modifications allow you to perform your duties as successfully as someone who does not have a disability and to enjoy the same benefits of the job that your co-workers enjoy. If your California employer refuses to make the reasonable accommodations that will allow you to do your job, or if an employer refuses to hire you based on your disability, you may have cause to take legal action. Seeking advice from an attorney can provide you with answers.

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