It has been a long, slow victory for people who suffer handicaps, having to fight year after year for the smallest gain. Even finding a parking place to accommodate your van or wheelchair can be difficult, despite laws providing reserved spaces for those who need them. These simple accommodations may allow you to participate in activities others take for granted, yet some people still resent them and feel that somehow you have special privileges by taking a prime parking space.
You may be used to these people who react from their ignorance, but you never expected to encounter such behavior in the workplace. After hiring you for the job, if your boss refuses to make reasonable accommodations, is he or she breaking the law?
If you have a permanent or long-term disability, the law protects you from discrimination because of that incapacity. A Florida employer may not refuse to hire you, refuse to promote you or terminate you based on your disability. Furthermore, the law protects you from working conditions that impede you from doing your duties or accessing the places and things you need on the job.
Because of this, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for you. The most obvious example may be for those who use a wheelchair. These chairs are often wider than many doorways or even the paths between work stations. Widening these areas to allow you access is one form of reasonably accommodating you. However, you may not be in a wheelchair. Your condition may require other accommodations, such as:
- Flexible scheduling
- Adaptation of the physical space of the office
- The use of an interpreter
- Someone to provide you with personal care
- Alterations in the way you perform your duties
- Changing the location of meetings or lunch breaks
- Providing office furniture that meets your requirements for height
- Equipment with technological adaptations
- Easy access to restrooms
If widening a doorway is not reasonable, your boss may find an alternate way for you to access an area. Additionally, the accommodations you seek may seem unreasonable to your employer. For example, you may request the installation of an elevator, which the law would likely consider a hardship for your employer if you work for a small business.
Still fighting for your basic rights?
What may seem like a reasonable accommodation to you might look like special treatment to other employees, for example, if you need extra time off for medical appointments or therapies. This is something to discuss with your employer, and you may even consider talking about it openly with your co-workers. Sometimes this is all it takes for an understanding to develop.
However, if you meet with resistance to your requested accommodations, you may need more than an open discussion. When your rights are in jeopardy, you always have the option of seeking legal advice.