I'm Doug, and I'm sorry to hear of the confusion.
No, it should not be necessary to retain a lawyer to write to an employer with the first notification of disability and request for accommodations under the ADA. This is something that would be preferable if it came from the employee and the employee's physician in the form of a medical report and recommendations for adequate accommodations. Having an attorney get involved from the beginning just appears too litigious and would set a rather antagonistic tone to the continuing relationship between employee and employer.
Under the ADA guidelines, a person is considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities. Recently, some new sections were added to the ADA regulations which provide even greater protections for the employee.One such section, 1630.2(j)(1)(iii) holds that the issue of “substantially limited” in a major life activity “should not demand extensive analysis,” and goes on to hold that comparing an individual’s performance of a major life activity to the performance of the same major life activity by most people in the general population “usually will not require scientific, medical or statistical analysis.”
As a result, proving a disability is a bit easier, and the remedies for a violation of your rights are several.
Speak with your doctor about what accommodations they believe that might be in your best interests and then present several possibilities to your employer---through a medical report written by the doctor for you--- for their consideration. This should also place you in a safer position as regards XXXXX XXXXX issues to the extent that you can relate them to your illness/disability.
A refusal to make a reasonable accommodation for you, presuming that your physical and medical condition qualifies as a disability under the ADA guidelines, would be a violation of law, and give you a cause of action including wrongful termination and discrimination. if after presenting evidence of your disabled status under the ADA, you are not granted reasonable accommodations, you may then consider filing a formal complaint.
You may begin by filing a formal complaint of discrimination against the employer with the Department of Justice at:
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights - NYAVE
Washington, D.C. 20530
You may also file a lawsuit in Federal Court against the employer.
Finally, you may file a disability discrimination complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). If your company has 15 or more employees, they are prohibited from discriminating against you. To file a complaint with the EEOC, contact the nearest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office. To be automatically connected with the nearest office, call(NNN) NNN-NNNN EEOC website: www.eeoc.gov
Federal law specifically prohibits discrimination, based upon the Ethnicity, Color, Religion, National Origin, Age, Sex and Disability of an individual, with regard to hiring, promotion and firing.
After you file the complaint, your employer will be prohibited from any retaliatory action against you. The EEOC will investigate your claim, and 180 days after the filing of the complaint you may ask for a "right to sue letter". The EEOC will issue you the letter which gives you the right to institute a private civil action against your employer and seek monetary damages.
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I wish you the best in 2012,