Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorney Answer: Does my employer violate disability discrimination laws by failing to provide American Sign Language interpreters and closed-captioned videos for deaf employees during company meetings? Does my company have to automatically provide a reasonable accommodation or do I to request a specific accommodation? When do I have to request an accommodation for my disability?
All employees are protected under Americans With Disabilities Act and R.C. § 4112.02(A) from being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers on the basis of their actual or perceived disability. These laws also prohibit employers from making pre-employment, disability-related inquiries of job applicants.
Moreover, The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who, either with or without such accommodations, are qualified to “perform the essential functions of the employment position.”
On September 30, 2014, a disability discrimination lawsuit was filed against FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. in a federal district court in the District of Maryland asserting several violations of the ADA by FedEx against several deaf, hearing impaired, and hard-of-hearing employees. The central complaint by the employees is that FedEx has failed to provide reasonable accommodations to these disabled individuals, specifically deaf and hard-of-hearing employees employed as Package Handlers.
The disability discrimination complaint alleges that FedEx currently fails to provide a wide array of reasonable accommodations for these employees, including “effective communications based accommodations” as well as “modified equipment, such as vibrating scanners, to enable deaf and hard-of-hearing Package Handlers to meet production quotas with the same level of effort as their hearing co-workers.” In addition, the lawsuit claims that FedEx has failed to provide “reasonable accommodations to ensure the safety of deaf and hard-of-hearing Package Handlers, such as by adding flashing lights to tuggers (or motorized moving equipment), and implementing emergency systems and training on such protocols.” The lawsuit also asserts that FedEx denied these employees other accommodations such as American Sign Language interpreters during meetings as well as closed-captioned videos during new-hire orientations.
Both Ohio and federal disability discrimination laws provide that employers have to provide “reasonable accommodations” to disabled employees. This is defined as any change in the workplace or in the manner that tasks or duties are customarily performed so as to allow the disabled employee to have an equal employment opportunity. However, your job never is required undertake undue hardship to provide a disability accommodation. Undue hardship has been defined by courts as incurring a significant difficulty or expense, or removing an essential job function. Given the size and financial resources of FedEx, and the relatively inexpensive cost for at least some of these accommodations, FedEx faces a long battle to explain why it refused to do anything.
The disability discrimination complaint goes on to allege that FedEx employees were told by FedEx that the company had no duty to accommodate them. In other instances, according to the lawsuit, FedEx told these employees that they had to first request the accommodations in order to receive them because FedEx was not required to automatically provide them.
Under both the ADA and Ohio disability discrimination laws, a disabled employee is responsible for initiating the process to get an accommodation for his or her disability, but the obligation for the employee to request an accommodation is not meant to be a hurdle or obstacle of any kind. Very simply, a disabled employee need only put the employer on notice that he or she is seeking an adjustment or some sort of change at work due to a medical condition. The employee is not required to submit a particular form or even any writing at all. The employee is not required to use any specific key word such as “accommodation.”
While neither Ohio law nor the ADA requires disabled employees to request accommodations at a certain point in time, the timing may be critical. The request for an accommodation only affects your job on a moving forward basis. To that end, your boss does not have to rescind a poor performance review, discipline, or even termination simply because a new request for a workplace accommodation would have prevented such action had the accommodation been provided earlier.
Having to live with a disability is difficult enough without worrying about the effect it may have on your job. If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our Ohio employment law attorneys at (216) 291-4744. The best option is not to wait. The Spitz Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
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