The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act protect workers with disabilities in California and other states. However, to benefit from the protection of these laws, a worker must disclose his or her disability. In many cases, disabilities are invisible to others, and workers may fear discrimination or other violations of their employee rights after disclosure.
Invisible disabilities could include dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or a mild traumatic brain injury, all of which might not be immediately evident. Those who have autoimmune diseases such as heart problems, multiple sclerosis, lupus or fibromyalgia might also hesitate to disclose their disabilities. However, with limited accommodations by employers, these workers can be as efficient as any others without disabilities.
A technical writer who suffered a mild TBI explained how she struggled to distinguish between similar words, but her request for a proofreader was denied. Another woman who works at a research agency says, despite being a statistician, a mathematician and having a master's degree, her reading and writing is at the level of a fifth grader. She also agrees that reasonable accommodation has been hard to come by throughout her studies and her career.
California workers with invisible disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodation that evens the playing field and allows everyone to reach his or her full potential. Those whose employee rights are being violated may find comfort in knowing that help is available. An experienced employment law attorney can assess the circumstances and provide the necessary support and guidance throughout ensuing proceedings.