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RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 10266
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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can my employer refuse to give me reasonable acommodations

Resolved Question:

can my employer refuse to give me reasonable acommodations to check my blood sugar levels at work and eat a reasonable meal
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 4 years ago.
Does your employer have at least 15 employees?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
yes
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your reply. I believe you would be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, in this situation, and the employer cannot therefore deny you reasonable accommodation unless the employer could show it would be an undue hardship for them, meaning it would cause them significant difficulty or expense.

To be protected under the ADA, you must have, have a record of, or be regarded as having a substantial, as opposed to a minor, impairment. A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, learning or working. Having diabetes could be seen as restricting life activities because it does require you to carefully monitor and test your blood sugar and respond accordingly.

 

If you have a disability, you must also be qualified to perform the essential functions or duties of a job, with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to be protected from job discrimination by the ADA. This means two things. First, you must satisfy the employer's requirements for the job, such as education, employment experience, skills or licenses. Second, you must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. Essential functions are the fundamental job duties that you must be able to perform on your own or with the help of a reasonable accommodation.

Reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. While I don't know the specifics of your job, I would imagine that testing blood sugar levels and eating something could be accomplished relatively quickly, and would not cause a hardship to the employer.

The ADA forbids an employer from discriminating against you in all employment practices, such as hiring, firing, promotions, pay, benefits and leave. They also cannot discriminate against you for asserting your rights under the ADA.

Assuming you have told your employer that you consider yourself disabled and therefore protected under the ADA and entitled to reasonable accommodation, and they have refused to acknowledge this, your next step is to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC. If you have been discriminated against, you are entitled to a remedy that will place you in the position you would have been in if the discrimination had never occurred. You may be entitled to hiring, promotion, reinstatement, back pay, or reasonable accommodation, including reassignment, depending on the circumstances. You may also be entitled to attorneys fees. How to file a charge with the EEOC can be found here. Information on how the EEOC handles your complaint is found here.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
the discrimination includes harrassment in trying to find evidence of inability to perform duties effectively including coercing someone to make an accusation agains me in writing by promissing them annonimity i have a copy of that employee's e-mail to administration. in addition to diabetes, i suffer from clinical depression that i've been treated for by a psychiatrist for four years and am just starting to recover from. my employer's harrassment and mistreatment exaserbates my depression to the extent that my primary care physician has asked that i be placed on FMLA BECAUSE THE EMPLOYER has drawn out the reasonable acommodation request (continues to fully grant it or make any written response to it) i have lost significant amounts of FMLA time unneccessarily. I refuse to walk into the place--HR offers NO help what-so-ever and my director has responded in writing to her superior that "we can't work with people who document occurances and obtain wittnesses. i have been ordered to stop documenting. PLEASE HELP.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 4 years ago.
The only reason I mention addressing the situation with HR is so that should this matter escalate to a court case, you would have to prove that your employer was aware of the situation and that you requested accommodations. But, it sort of sounds like you've done that and they are aware of the circumstances.

All of the issues you raise need to be addressed in your complaint to the EEOC. An employer cannot harass or discriminate against you or create a hostile work environment because of your disability. However, the law also requires that before you bring a lawsuit against the employer, that the employee file a charge with the EEOC, and that the EEOC investigate. While in some cases, the EEOC can mediate a resolution with the employer, or even try to reach a settlement with the employer directly, what happens in most cases is that they will issue you a "right to sue" letter. At that point, you can file a lawsuit against the employer, but you need the EEOC letter first.

However, I would strongly suggest you look into getting an employment lawyer now. They can assist you with dealing with the EEOC and then help you prepare should you decide to move forward with a lawsuit. There are also strict timelines in which you can file a complaint with the EEOC and when you can file a lawsuit after getting the right to sue letter, so you need to be aware of those so the statute of limitations does not run.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The attorney with whom I "consulted" suggests that I file a complaint with the AZ Attorney General's office in that the complaint would be much more quickly acted upon than with the EEOC, he claims they're overburdened with complaints. According to the Atty General's office, I have 180 days to file the complaint and an appointmet for this Friday. The consulting attorney suggests I request mediation. What's your opinion?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 4 years ago.
I would agree the EEOC is backed up. It's not unheard of to wait 6 months for them to investigate (sometimes less, sometimes more). What's not clear to me is what else the Attorney General's office can do for you.

Mediation only works if both parties are willing to come to the table and talk and each give up something. You sound like a reasonable person, but I'm not sure your employer is at all. If they won't mediate, what else can the AG do for you?

I think you file a complaint with the AG's office AND with the EEOC. If the AG is able to settle the matter for you, terrific, case closed, you can always cancel the EEOC investigation. If the AG isn't able to assist you, at least then the EEOC is still looking into the case, the give you the notice of right to sue, and you can then bring a lawsuit, if necessary.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
can't the attorney general's office prosecute?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 4 years ago.
They have the right to file a lawsuit, but they also have the right to decline to file a lawsuit as well (which they could do, even if they believe you have a valid claim, if for instance, they do not have the resources to handle your case), and then you would have to bring a claim on your own. One thing I did find out -when you file with the AG office, they will "dual file" with the EEOC, so you don't have to do it -they will take care of it for you.
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 10266
Experience: Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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