Americans with Disabilities Act
The primary federal law that helps disabled workers in Texas is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA prohibits disability discrimination in the workplace and other contexts, and it became law in 1990. The purpose of the law is to make sure that disabled workers receive the same opportunities as people who are not disabled. Unfortunately, many employers fail to provide equal opportunities to disabled workers, either by failing to hire or promote them or by refusing to give them a reasonable accommodation at a job for which they are qualified. At Wiley Walsh, P.C., our Austin ADA lawyers can provide knowledgeable and tenacious counsel and representation to people who suffer from disability discrimination on the job. You should consult a disability discrimination attorney to make sure that your rights are respected.Know Your Rights Under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Under the ADA, private employers with at least 15 employees, as well as state and local governments of any size, labor organizations, and employment agencies, cannot discriminate against qualified people with disabilities in any terms and conditions of employment. For example, employers that are covered by the ADA cannot decide to reject, fire, demote, or refuse to train an individual based on a disability.
The ADA was amended in 2008 to expand the definition of a disability. A person has a disability if they are physically or mentally impaired, such that one or more major life activities are substantially limited. A person is also disabled for the purposes of the ADA if they have a record of being impaired in this way, or if they are perceived as having an impairment of this type. It should be noted that the disabled individual must be able to perform the essential functions of the job in question with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Under the ADA, you are entitled to ask for a reasonable accommodation for a disability. A reasonable accommodation is a modification that an employer provides so that a person with a disability can have equal employment opportunities. Reasonable accommodations can include alterations to the workplace, including making a facility accessible, restructuring a job, modifying a work schedule, or getting equipment or interpreters. An ADA attorney can explain to Austin residents what this might mean in their specific situation. For example, if you are deaf, you might need an interpreter for meetings. An employee suffering from cancer might need time off to obtain chemotherapy treatments.
Your employer must provide a reasonable accommodation as long as it does not present an undue hardship. Simple expense does not make an accommodation an undue hardship for an employer. An undue hardship must be something that imposes a significant difficulty when considering the size of the employer, its financial resources, and its operations.
Once you have asked for a reasonable accommodation, your employer is supposed to engage in what is known as a good-faith interactive process. If there is more than one accommodation that could work, the employer has the right to choose which accommodation to provide.
Many people are concerned that if they ask for a reasonable accommodation or file a charge of discrimination, their employer will retaliate against them. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for exercising your rights under the ADA or for participating in any way in an investigation or lawsuit based on the ADA.
Retaliation could include any adverse action that would tend to discourage people from engaging in a protected activity under the ADA. For example, it would be retaliation for your boss to refuse to promote you for filing a charge of disability discrimination.
Damages for which you may be eligible under the ADA include back pay, compensatory damages such as emotional distress damages, punitive damages, and out-of-pocket expenses. The employer may be required to reinstate a worker or to provide the reasonable accommodation that was denied.Discuss Your Case with an ADA Lawyer in the Austin Area
If you are concerned that your employer has violated your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you should consult an experienced employment discrimination attorney right away. You may be entitled to damages based on disability discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. The Austin ADA attorneys at Wiley Walsh, P.C. represent employees in Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Kyle, San Marcos, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg, among other cities. Call us at (512) 271-5527 or use our online form to set up an appointment.