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Is your disability a limiting factor in company activities?

Perhaps you work at a company that promotes fitness programs and team participation activities.

You use a wheelchair, and your supervisor has not made any attempt to include you in such activities. Is this disability discrimination?

Protection under the law

Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act protect the rights of people with disabilities. Under the law, an employer must provide “reasonable accommodation” for a disabled employee unless doing so would cause the company “undue hardship.” This means that to do your job, you must have wheelchair access to all points of the employer’s property, both inside and out. Your employer may have complied with this requirement, but what about access to company programs and activities?

Touching all aspects

It is unlawful for your employer to discriminate against you in any aspect of employment. This includes hiring and firing, job assignments, promotions, training, pay, fringe benefits and any other kind of condition or employment term.

Responsibilities under the ADA

The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits qualified businesses from treating an employee less favorably because he or she has a disability. Here are some examples of what your employer may not do with regard to your disability:

  •         Exclude you from a program or activity because of your disability
  •         Deny you an opportunity given to others to participate in a particular activity
  •         Offer a service or benefit to you as a disabled person that is not as effective as one afforded to others
  •         Fail to ensure that company programs and activities are accessible to you
  •         Fail to provide auxiliary aids that would afford you equal opportunity to participate in a program or activity
  •         Fail to provide a procedure to lodge complaints of disability discrimination in company programs or activities

Seeking help

Many times, an employer will try to make a case about undue hardship to get around the requirement of reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee. You have every right to participate in a company program or team activity. If your supervisor is not open to discussion about this matter and you feel you are a victim of discrimination, it may be time for you to explore your legal options.