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I'm a fully functioning employee with a physical disability at a contract job. The Contractor is looking at hiring 2 more full-time employees. The issue here is that I'm a programmer who sits at a desk all day that writes code and troubleshoots our customers' computer issues, while the listing the contractor has posted has wording to that effect plus the words Field Technician, as in going offsite to perform installations and troubleshooting tasks.

I understand that performing off site tasks is nearly impossible for me due to my physical limitations, but I feel that the contractor is unfairly using the physical duties required in the field work to prevent me from showing interest in the job I mostly already do.

As such, what is the proper way to approach the contractor without looking like I may sue etc?

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Are offsite installations a major part of the job? –  MrFox Apr 15 at 19:01
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"I feel that the contractor is unfair" - what makes you feel so? –  gnat Apr 15 at 19:02
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@VietnhiPhuvan, In the US, one can sue using discrimination as the reason, and I wrote that because I wanted to make sure I DID NOT go to the contractor with that attitude, and you miss the intent of the post. The contractor has NOT made accommodations for me in that the job posting they have posted is unfairly keeping me from applying, which is discriminatory, which is why I said I'd consider suing. –  eyoung100 Apr 15 at 22:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Whatever else you do, apply for the position anyway. Make it clear in your application that, while your physical disability prevents you from performing offsite tasks, you have already demonstrated competence in the other parts of the job while in your current contract position.

What you need to keep in mind is that a job posting is essentially an advertisement, and everything in it can be subject to negotiation. Yes, the employer is saying they're looking for two full-time programmers who also do some offsite support — but they may be perfectly willing to settle for one full-time programmer who cannot do offsite work, and one who will do a little more, especially if the first programmer is already known to them and familiar with the job.

Sure, if they really just don't want to re-hire you for some reason, and have worded the new positions deliberately to exclude you, then doing this won't help. (In that case, you might also indeed have cause to sue; but you'd need to talk to a local lawyer about that.) However, if that's not the case — and the fact that they extended your contract suggests it may be so — then they may well be glad to have you apply, even if you don't technically satisfy all the stated requirements.

Approaching the person who'll actually be doing the hiring (that is to say, not the HR person who posted the ad, but whoever you'd actually be working for if you got the job), as littlekellilee suggests, may also be a good idea. Make sure not to come across in any way demanding or confrontational, but just mention that you heard about the new positions, and that you'd like to know more about the offsite work aspects so that you can decide if you should apply. At least, this will let them know that you're interested in a permanent position, which could be useful even if you don't end up getting this particular job (e.g. because they really do specifically need more offsite support staff).

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I'm also a fully functioning employee with a physical disability. I am a software developer. We have jobs here that are of the same type you described. I know I can't do them, so I simply don't apply for them. The fact is, if they have this requirement and you aren't physically able to do it, disability or not, the company still needs someone who can.

From the question, I'm not sure if you already have a job and are looking to move, or if you need to reapply for your own job to keep it. If the latter is true, then approach the person who has posted and explain the situation to him. Perhaps they require more out of the position than originally thought. Either way, talking to him is your best bet. Ask him why this has been added on to the posted, and then say that you're interested in the position, but are physically unable to do the new part because of your physical disability (even if he is aware of it). There is nothing in that statement that sounds like you're going to sue. If it is a major requirement, he'll let you know and you'll have to look elsewhere. If it isn't, he may be willing to flex and add that requirement to someone else's description.

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Sounds to me like they have you as a (contractor) programmer, fulfilling one list of responsibilities and functions - and they need to fill out some other roles which don't have the same responsibilities or functions - do these field technicians also need to develop software?. I don't quite see where the crossover is here - before you start calling out "discrimination", you have to ask if they would be doing the same thing if you didn't have a physical disability? On the other hand, if these new guys are going to be doing your job as well as the off-site stuff, and your contract is not renewed, you may want to talk to a lawyer (not saying there would be any case - because I am not a lawyer myself).

If you want a permanent position with the organisation instead of continuing as a contractor, then next time your contract is up for renewal just say "hey, I've been working for you guys for 18 months now, and it looks like you want me to stay for longer - why not make it easier all round and hire me on as permanent staff". Either they say "yes" and offer you a salary, or they say "actually, we like things the way they are" - there are various reasons why, including budgeting (yes, it may cost more - but your contract fees could be coming from a different bucket to regular salaries), and simply that they don't know how much longer they will have work for you.

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I feel that the contractor is unfairly using the physical duties required in the field work to prevent me from showing interest in the job I mostly already do.

As such, what is the proper way to approach the contractor without looking like I may sue etc?

What do you think will happen if you're right and the contractor believes you won't sue?

I think you have that backwards. The fact that you will if you are treated unfairly should always be implicit, in that part of you being a good, professional worker is your tacit and mutual understanding that you will always be treated fairly. There are other good answers that give good advice for how to proceed that I'm not great at giving, but I want to emphasize, if it comes to it... of course you will sue. Don't feel you need to assure you won't.

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I am not following your answer. Could you expand it please? –  Adam Zuckerman Apr 16 at 0:03

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