Knowing Your Employment Rights
In addition to understanding your genetic rights (covered last week), it is very important to understand your employment rights when you have a disabling condition. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability. This means that your rights to employment are protected, even with a disabling condition like HD, as long as you are qualified to do the job. With a progressive condition like HD, it can be hard to continue to perform essential job tasks, but the ADA also specifies that you have the right to ask for “reasonable accommodation.” You will need to disclose information about your disabling condition to your employer to start the reasonable accommodation process.
A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to the work environment that enables a qualified individual with a disability to keep working. Reasonable accommodation can include:
- providing or modifying equipment or devices,
- part-time or modified work schedules,
- adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies, and
- providing readers and interpreters.
If you need to talk to your employer about reasonable accommodation, a good place to start for information, ideas, and samples is the Job Accommodation Network.
It is very important to know that once you are no longer able to perform your essential job tasks with accommodation, your job is no longer protected. At that point, it will be time to apply for disability through your employer, Social Security disability, or both.