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I have a hearing impairment, mild autism, and a few other impairments.

NOTE: This is not a current situation, but one that I faced in the past. An advice for how to act if this were a current employer would be ideal to help me or the next person facing such an issue

While these required very little in the way of accommodation, (light for the phone, blinking fluorescent lights replaced, et cet) I've felt that my employer was going out of their way to make things difficult for me with regards to my impairments, and I have some evidence to this fact. NOTE: They were aware of these needs and stymied me even when I tried to ameliorate them myself

  • Timed my use of the bathroom
  • Resisted efforts for me to have maintenance change buzzing florescent lights(They were aware of the fact this drives autistic people crazy, as I had discussed this with them)
  • Commenting "We already gave you a light for your phone" when I brought up difficulties that had cropped up.
  • Refusing me alternate means of recording notes to meetings (Hearing impairment + dysgraphia means that I cannot take notes)
  • Told me I was not allowed to take my medication at my desk
  • Told me I was not allowed to check my blood sugar at my desk, but had to walk across the building to the first aid station

and more, those were just the more egregious examples.

Other things included always approaching me on my deaf side, and staying there even when I told them it was my deaf side, publicly mentioning stimming, and other characteristically autistic behaviors, as well as refusing to accept or even review medical paperwork about the specific disabilities I have.

What steps could I take with management, HR, et cet. to protect myself?

What steps could I take on my own to protect myself/gather evidence on my own?

Also, what would be good resources outside of my employer to contact if I need to pursue this should my suspicions be confirmed?

Any insights from people who have worked in HR would be especially welcome.

This is a very large, multinational company.

  • @RichardU Is there a particular state you would like to add? – jcmack Jul 27 '18 at 23:43
  • while i cannot vtc this due to the bounty, i think this q should be closed as-is. it's primarily opinion-based - the "best" bit. Can you rework the question with a specific situation or, more likely, break this into several questions "what steps should i take with HR to protect myself given this", "what steps with management" etc. It's also really really broad right now, a complete answer for this would be likely in a book format than a short post – bharal Jul 30 '18 at 10:52
  • 3
    This question is being discussed on Meta – rath Jul 30 '18 at 13:10
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+500

From this link at disabilitysecrets.com:

If your employer has ignored your request for an accommodation, your first step should be to make sure you were understood. Put your request in writing, addressed to your manager and the human resources department, and specifically mention the ADA. Explain that you have a legal right to a reasonable accommodation for your disability. Even though the law doesn't require you to be so explicit, your employer may not understand its obligations or may not have fully grasped your request.

If the employer doesn't respond to a more specific request, it's time to talk to a lawyer.

If your employer is accommodating your requests, but is "giving you a hard time", you may need to talk to a lawyer if your situation rises to a lawsuit level.

Otherwise, mentioning the ADA in writing each time you request an accommodation may put the employer on notice, and guide them to being more careful about your situation.

At the same time, it's probably best to seek out a more enlightened employer, rather than continue to put up with an uncomfortable situation. In my experience, many (not all, but enough) employers work hard to put all of their employees in a position to succeed.

5

Now, for what I've learned having gone through all of this.

First, I wish I had had Joe as a resource when I was going through this, the advice was spot on.

My mistakes were:

  1. I was trying too hard to get along instead of standing up for myself
  2. I was fooled by their "friendly" façade of being a family style company.

If you have a disability and your company is aware of it:

  1. Put all requests in writing or email.
  2. Reference the ADA in all correspondence if in the USA, or your country's appropriate laws if not.
  3. At the first sign of resistance, update your resume and start looking for employment elsewhere.
  4. Be aware of the fact that your company may be building a file on you as well. BE READY
  5. Build and maintain personal savings. If anything needs to go legal, you need cash reserves to cover a retainer.
  6. If you decide to take legal action, understand that this will take years even if you have a good case.

  7. DOCUMENT LITERALLY EVERYTHING BECAUSE YOUR EMPLOYER ALREADY IS!

If the time comes to act, be prepared

  1. HR IS NO LONGER YOUR FRIEND Not that they ever were, but HR is going to go into "circle the wagons mode". Helping your pursue the company is not in the best interests of the company.
  2. Be prepared to be "Terminated for cause". This is a very common way that companies defend themselves from lawsuits. "This is obviously not a case of discrimination, Richard was fired for violated rule #87, sub paragraph E in our employee handbook"
  3. Expect retaliation. They will make things VERY uncomfortable for you. This can range from anything as simple as paperwork being "lost", or requests taking a long time to be honored.
  4. Expect to be pushed out the door. Also known as a "constructive firing", there are numerous ways this can be done from not getting meeting invites, forgetting to notify you when the office is closed for a snow day, nobody talking to you, being given busywork, et cetera.
  5. See a lawyer who specializes in labor law with a focus on disabilities. Be ready with a retainer.
  6. Be prepared to go back into the lion's den. The lawyer is going to propose a number of remedies. If the company agrees (and they might) then you have to continue to work at your employer. They may make it VERY uncomfortable.
  7. KEEP DOCUMENTING EVERYTHING any action you take may result in retaliation. Track everything, no matter how minor it seems
  8. BE ABOVE REPROACH Show up 15 minutes before start time, leave 15 minutes after quitting time, take short lunches, and follow the employee handbook to the letter. Any opportunity they have to catch you, they will take.
  9. Find another job. Sooner or later, they will likely catch you breaking some rarely-to-never-enforced rule.

Advice for gathering evidence.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the law
  2. Be discreet, if they know you are gathering evidence, they will not give you any.
  3. Look for patterns and document them.
  4. See if it is happening to or has happened to anyone else with similar circumstances.
  5. Include What was done, when it was done, and include details, make sure to frame it as to demonstrate why it applies.
2

Try to communicate over email so that you have a record of what is being said. Make requests via email, even if you also go and ask in person just follow it up with a matching email. Collect all these emails and responses to build up a picture of what you are asking for and what you have received.

Also keep a written record of conversations you have and comments made, just a simple list of dates/times and a summary.

You can present this to HR, and if that doesn't produce the result you want you can look at contacting charities who specialise in helping with this kind of issue. They will be able to offer further advice and point you to legal resources if necessary.

2

I would strongly suggest to contact law professional who could explain what exactly are your rights in your state, and what methods of "collecting" evidence are appropriate for your exact situation, and if you can bring your case to the court of law.

In terms of "collecting evidence" I would say that any requests to accomodate your needs should be made in writing (email works), and depending on your relation (if you feel that they may get neglected) you should point out the exact clauses in applicable law. If you non-writen denial - ask to have it in writing (this way you could do something about it). If you get denied that too - act like you didn't get response at all, and repeat the request in writing.

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