Your Legal Rights at Work

An employment attorney explains the workplace rights of adults with ADHD and how you can benefit from them.

Your Legal Rights in the Workplace

What accommodations are unreasonable?
It depends on the situation and the size of the company. What's reasonable to expect from a multinational corporation might cause undue hardship for a small business. Let's say you're not a "morning person," and that you say to your boss, "I need to come in at 10, but I'll work till seven." If the office does all of its business from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., your request probably won't fly. Given the demands of the business, it may not be reasonable. Or let's say that the only way you can stay organized is to have your own secretary. If the company has a firm policy of one secretary for every three workers, that accommodation may also be seen as unreasonable.

Should I say, right off, "I have ADD. You have to accommodate me"?
There's no need to bring up ADD until you have to. Often, you can get what you need without mentioning it. For example, you might say, "I'm really bothered by noise. I would be more effective and efficient if my office weren't quite so close to the copier."

What if my boss says no?
Consider hiring a coach to keep your work on track. And ask the boss again a few weeks later. But if your boss starts criticizing your work performance, it's probably time to consult an employment attorney about the best way to reveal your ADD. If you get fired before disclosing that you have ADD, it will be difficult to make the case that you were the victim of disability discrimination.

Should I document the whole story?
That's a good idea. Carry a notebook, and, when difficulties start, take notes: "The boss said I'd better not come late to the next meeting," or "Jack made fun of my difficulty finding papers." One thing you don't want to do is enter your notes on a company computer - or leave them in your office.

And the next step is "see you in court"?
That's the last step. Negotiation is better than litigation, and far less costly. The first thing is to sit down with your employer and try to work things out. Thus far, there have been only about a dozen cases in which an employee with ADD sued his employer - and not one of these suits has been successful for the employee. Of course, the mere threat of legal action may be all that's needed to get an employer to take your situation seriously. No employer wants to be the test case that leads to the first big ADD employee victory!

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TAGS: ADHD and the Law, ADHD Accommodations, 504s, IEPs

 

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