You’ve worked at the same company for years. You might have hoped to retire from your current employer eventually. No matter how hard working you are, unexpected life events can derail your professional plans.
Whether you experience increasing weakness and are diagnosed with a progressive condition like ALS or wind up in a car crash that puts you in a wheelchair, your health could change with little warning. The more serious your medical condition is, the more likely it will be to impact your work.
Suddenly, instead of feeling secure in your career, you have to worry about whether you can keep working. Should your employer try to help you stay on the job when you have a disabling medical condition?
The Americans with Disabilities Act set standards for employers
Few laws do as much to protect workers with medical conditions as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA helps ensure the rights of those who have physical and mental conditions that affect their daily lives. It also protects people with disabilities from discrimination.
The ADA includes provisions against employer discrimination in hiring, firing or promotions. Additionally, the ADA requires that employers provide or allow for reasonable accommodations if they can help workers remain employed.
What seems reasonable to you may not seem reasonable to your boss
Reasonable accommodations might include allowing extra breaks so that you can rest an injured body part, changing your job responsibilities or allowing you to work remotely. The nature of your job and the impact of your condition will determine what accommodations you need.
Typically, employers have an obligation to provide accommodations unless they represent an undue hardship. Of course, what seems reasonable to you might seem unfair or unnecessary to your boss. If you’re not able to successfully negotiate these accommodations with your employer, you may want to seek the help of an attorney if you believe your employer is discriminating against you instead of supporting you.