About employment rights

If you are a person with a disability, you have certain legal rights in the workplace. Find out about them here.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Title I: Employment

The Americans with Disabilities Act, Title I: Employment, prohibits employers with 15 or more employees and all state and local government employers from firing, refusing to hire or rehire, or otherwise discriminating against a “qualified” person with a disability on the basis of disability and obligates employers to provide reasonable accommodations. 

To be “qualified,” a person must be able to perform the essential functions of the job, either with or without a reasonable accommodation. Employers are not required to provide an accommodation that would eliminate an essential function of an employee’s job or would pose an “undue hardship” for the employer. An accommodation is provided at the employer’s expense, unless the employer can demonstrate that it would pose an undue financial hardship.

Massachusetts Employment Discrimination Law

Massachusetts Employment Discrimination Law M.G.L. c. 151B §4 prohibits any employer in Massachusetts who employs 6 or more people from firing, refusing to hire or rehire, or otherwise discriminating against a qualified disabled person based on disability and obligates covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) enforces this law.

Reasonable accommodations in the workplace

Are you facing barriers in the workplace due to your disability? Qualified employees with disabilities have a right to request reasonable accommodations. In general, a reasonable accommodation is a modification to the way things are typically done or to the physical work environment that would enable a qualified person with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of the position, and or to benefit equally from the privileges of employment.

The first step in securing reasonable accommodation is to make a request to your employer. The following are some important tips to assist you in making your request.

Do:

  • Make your request to the person who has the ability to authorize the request.
  • Put your request in writing. You are not legally required to do this, but it can be very helpful.
  • Make sure to date your request letter.
  • Keep a copy of your request for your records.
  • Follow up with your employer if your request is not acknowledged within the specified time frame.
  • Keep in mind that an employer may offer an effective alternative to your proposed accommodation.

Your letter should:

  • Identify you as a person with a disability.
  • Explain the barriers you are facing at work in light of your disability limitations.
  • Include an attached letter from your medical provider when the disability or the need for accommodation is not obvious.
  • Propose ideas for reasonable accommodations and how they would enable you to overcome workplace barriers.
  • Request a response within a reasonable amount of time (usually 1-2 weeks).

MOD provides technical assistance around reasonable accommodation requests.
 

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