I have a disability that's affecting my work...what should I do?
1. If at all possible, seek legal assistance. There are laws that protect workers based on their disabilities, but the laws can be complicated. To find a law firm, call the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (617-742-0625) or the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (617-654-0400).
2. For detailed information about disability discrimination under Massachusetts law, click here. For detailed information about disability discrimination under federal law, click here. 3. You don't have to do anything. BUT if your employer doesn't know that you have a disability that's affecting your performance, the employer generally has the right to fire you based on performance problems.
4. The disability discrimination laws require covered employers to provide "reasonable accommodation" to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities, except when such accommodation would cause an "undue hardship." Generally speaking, a reasonable accommodation means a change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done). These are usually minor modifications to allow someone to do the "essential functions" of the job. What is "reasonable" depends on the person and the job. What is reasonable in one setting might not be reasonable in another.
5. If you need to request an accommodation, it is best to do so clearly and in writing to human resources (or ADA coordinator, if there is one). Check your handbook or policy manual to see if there is a procedure for making these requests. You don't have to share all information about your disability, but you'll have to provide enough information for the employer to know what types of accommodations might allow you to do your job. The Job Accommodation Network provides guidance on disability accommodations.
6. Keep good records of any communications you have with your employer. Put your requests in writing and keep notes about any conversations. Don't secretly record anyone.
7. If your employer refuses to work with you to provide accommodations, or simply refuses to provide accommodations, call the Fair Employment Project (617-902-0192) to discuss your options.
Fair Employment Project, Inc. | 777 Concord Avenue, Suite 302 | Cambridge, MA 02138 | 617.902.0192 | email@example.com