Workers with disabling medical conditions can often maintain gainful employment so long as the companies that employ them agree to offer them reasonable accommodations. Federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against workers with disabling medical conditions.
In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act Ada makes it a requirement for businesses to accommodate those who could do a job if they have certain forms of support from their employer. Reasonable accommodations are any type of employer support that would allow someone with a medical condition to perform their job more effectively or safely.
What are some of the common accommodations an employer could provide for a worker?
1. Telecommuting opportunities
As the last few years have demonstrated, a huge number of jobs can actually involve remote work temporarily or most of the time. For workers with conditions ranging from back injuries to mental health disorders, work-from-home arrangements could be a simple way of keeping them productive despite their current limitations.
2. Accessible workspaces and bathrooms
Making a facility accessible to someone who uses crutches or a wheelchair is a very basic means of accommodating workers with disabling medical conditions. Adding a wheelchair ramp, remodeling bathrooms to provide wheelchair access stalls and moving workstations or offices to the first floor of a building are always employer could offer accessibility accommodations to someone with mobility limitations.
3. Assistive technology
There are screen readers that can help those with visual impairments perform computer-based jobs and devices that can help workers with physical disabilities perform numerous job tasks. Purchasing and maintaining appropriate assistive technology can be a way to help workers with a newly acquired injury continue to do their work and can also help the company extend employment opportunities to someone who could theoretically do the job with appropriate mechanical support.
When companies refuse to provide reasonable accommodations to workers who could perform a job with that support, they may have engaged in an act of disability discrimination that leaves them open to a future lawsuit. Understanding what kind of accommodations you can request could help you later hold an employer accountable if they discriminate against you by refusing to help you do your job safely.