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The American Disabilities Act and your rights

As an employee, it's important that you're treated fairly. As a person with a disability, you need to make sure that you are treated no differently than anyone else you work with, and if you are, you need to know how to rectify the situation. A news report from Dec. 24 has discussed how employers in Texas may not always be fair to their disabled employees; in fact, Texas employers have seen a significant number of payouts to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the last five years.

Payouts have nearly doubled in the last five years, riding from $5.4 million in 2009 to $9.7 million in 2013. That could mean that employees with disabilities have been mistreated more in the recent past, but it's most likely due to the fact that a 2008 amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act broadened the term "disability" to a greater number of conditions.

Now, things such as anxiety, depression and learning disabilities are all under the ADA's protection. These may not be obvious disorders, but they do qualify. This means that employers need to make sure that they are accommodating employees who struggle with these mental health disorders as well as they would for employees with physical disabilities.

The law also requires employees to file discrimination complaints to the company first. Next, the employee has to file a complaint with the EEOC. After those steps have been taken and an investigation has been completed, the problem should be resolved. If not, then a lawsuit will be allowed to be filed.

Source: Dallas Business Journal, "Employers take note: Americans with Disabilities Act payouts soaring in Texas" Bill Hethcock, Dec. 24, 2014

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