Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled

You've Got Rights!


You've Got Rights

Table of Contents

Title I, Employment

Title I of the ADA requires that employers with 15 or more employees do not discriminate against qualified employees or applicants with disabilities. To be qualified means you are able to do the main duties or essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. The Massachusetts Employment Discrimination Law is similar to the ADA but applies to employers with six or more employees.

Employers must offer equal pay, benefits and advancement opportunities to employees with disabilities.

A young CORD member at work on the computer

A reasonable accommodation is any change to a job or workplace or the use of assistive technology that helps you, as an employee with a disability, overcome a barrier in your work or work environment. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to any employee with a known disability. If your disability is not obvious, you must ask for the accommodation. If you don't need an accommodation, then you do not have to tell your employer that you have a disability.

Although your employer doesn't have to give you the exact accommodation that you ask for, what is provided must be effective for you. Employers don't have to provide top-of-the-line assistive technology. Basic models are acceptable unless you need extra features to do your job.

Your employer can ask for documentation or proof that you need the requested accommodation. A letter from your doctor should be sufficient.

You cannot be charged for reasonable accommodations. An accommodation request that creates an undue hardship (very hard to do or too expensive) to the employer doesn't have to be provided but you may be able to work out a compromise. If you're unsure whether or not your request is truly a hardship, contact your local independent living center (ILC) or a disability rights organization for advice. Resources are listed at the end of this guide.

If you don't want an accommodation, you don't have to accept one. If you refuse an accommodation and then are unable to do your job, you can be fired.

Your employer is not allowed to discuss your disability or accommodations with other employees. Only people who need to know, such as your direct supervisor, are allowed to have this information.

A young CORD member reads the newspaper at home

As an applicant with a disability, you are also entitled to reasonable accommodations. They may include having a company mail you a job application rather than making you pick it up in person, being given assistance in completing the application, or having your job interview in an accessible location.

The ADA prohibits employers from asking about your disability. They can't ask questions related to your past use of sick leave, hospitalizations, workers' compensation claims, or treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism. They can't require you to take a physical examination unless all employees in that job are required to take one and they've offered you the job. The job offer can be conditional on you passing the exam.

During a job interview, employers may ask if you can do the job functions with or without reasonable accommodations. If you are asked to demonstrate how you would do your job, reasonable accommodations must be provided if you need them.

Employers cannot refuse to hire you just because you have a disability but they also do not have to hire you just because you have a disability.

For more information on your rights, call CORD at (508) 775-8300
or one of the other resources listed at the end of this guide.
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