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Has your employer failed to accommodate your disability?

You are the only person in the company you work for who has a disability. A recent car accident left you with a spinal injury that now requires you to use a wheelchair. Unfortunately, you are in the IT department, which is in a very small room crowded with cubicles, desks and computer equipment.

The room is difficult for you to navigate with your wheelchair. However, your employer does not offer a solution, saying that if you cannot work in the IT room, the company will have to let you go.

The definition of disability

Disability is construed as a mental or physical impairment that greatly limits a major life activity, such as walking, talking, hearing or seeing. A person whose cancer has gone into remission, or who has some other history of a disability, still meets the legal definition of disabled.

The law in Tennessee

The Tennessee Disability Act prohibits your employer from discriminating against you due to your disability. However, the state law does not require employers to provide you with reasonable accommodation for your disability—but only in companies with fewer than 15 employees. The company you work for has 90 employees; therefore, it is subject to the federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Reasonable accommodation

Under the ADA, your employer must provide reasonable accommodation so that you can work properly, as long as this does not pose “undue hardship” for the company in terms of being too expensive or too difficult. Your employer does not have the obligation to go to the trouble and expense of knocking out a wall and enlarging the IT room on your behalf; you only need a work area spacious enough for wheelchair access, a desk and a computer setup.

Considering options

You have a legitimate concern that your employer might terminate your employment since no accommodation regarding a larger workspace seems to be forthcoming. An attorney experienced with employment law can tell you the legal options available to you. You need your job, but you do not need the stress and uncertainty your employer is causing in your life.

 

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