How can I advocate for my needs at work?

| Mar 6, 2020 | Firm News

Workplaces need all kinds of minds. But some employees with mental disabilities may feel like their learning differences make it challenging to keep up. To fix this, some try to get reasonable accommodations through their employer under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

Employers are required to consider accommodations, but sadly, they don’t always have to approve them. That’s because some may feel a request could cause undue hardship for their business.

Unfortunately, this often creates setbacks for employees with disabilities, putting some at a disadvantage. Luckily, workers can still advocate for their needs.

Demonstrating struggles

In many cases, employers deny requests because employees don’t provide the right documents. To receive protection under the ADA, workers must show how their condition causes issues in their previous or current job. Even without an official diagnosis, they can still get accommodations in some circumstances.

However, workers with disabilities must be able to perform the essential functions of their job with or without accommodations. For instance, if an employee has the skills, education and licenses necessary, but struggles with nonessential functions, employers could reassign those tasks to other workers.

Keeping accommodations reasonable

This provision under the ADA can be confusing for some, as a “reasonable accommodation” often varies among employers. That’s because one accommodation may be financially feasible for one employer and may not be for another. When workers request a reasonable accommodation, they can better state their case by:

  • Explaining how their request would not place an undue burden on the employer.
  • Showing how accommodations can increase the quantity and quality of their work.
  • Showing how the accommodation can help them add value to the company.
  • Showing how the accommodation doesn’t give them an advantage over other workers, but rather levels the playing field.

Many Americans with mental disabilities are capable of accomplishing great things when given the right tools for success. While the rules revolving around workplace accommodations can be confusing, employers are never allowed to deny or punish workers because of their mental impairments.

If workers with disabilities can prove they can perform the essential functions of a job, they have the right to request workplace adjustments. However, if their employer can afford accommodations but claim they can’t, workers may want to seek assistance. A trusted legal partner can help them maneuver through the complexities of the ADA and work with their employer to give them the support they need.