Written by Sattiraju Law Firm on March 17, 2020
According to the Autism Society, over 3.5 million people have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and the numbers continue to grow. Indeed, autism is the fasted growing developmental disability disorder, which increased by almost 120% from 2000 to 2010.
But what rights do autistic employees have under employment law? The answer is “a lot.” The Americans with Disabilities Act, called the ADA, certainly applies to employees with an autism diagnosis. In its regulations, the federal government has made clear that autism is covered, so there should be no doubt about that. For help understanding your rights, speak with a disability lawyer in New Jersey today.
You Have a Right Not to Be Discriminated Against in Employment
As someone with an autism diagnosis, you have the right to be treated equally during employment. This right covers all phases of employment, including:
- Wages and benefits
- Training opportunities
You also have a right not to be harassed because of your disability. This right includes having access to a non-hostile workplace.
If you believe you suffered discrimination due to your autism, you might have a right to sue. The law also protects against retaliation, meaning an employer cannot fire you because you or someone else complained about discrimination against people with autism. Contact a New Jersey employment lawyer for help analyzing your case.
You Have a Right to Reasonable Accommodations
Federal law also requires that employers make reasonable accommodations so that employees can do their jobs effectively. The key word is “reasonable.” An employer doesn’t have to do everything humanly possible, depending on the costs and the disruption to normal business activities. But the law usually requires some effort.
Employees with autism often benefit from workplaces where distractions are minimized. Some reasonable accommodations could include:
- Providing an office with a door that shuts
- Not using fluorescent light bulbs which are too bright
- Allowing an employee to wear sunglasses or headphones to limit stimulation
- Providing regular, short breaks for the employee
If you are currently employed, you should discuss possible accommodations with your employer. If they simply say “no” to everything, meet with an employment attorney. A lawsuit might be necessary to jog compliance.
The ADA Only Applies to Certain Employers
Not every New Jersey employee is covered by federal antidiscrimination law. The ADA, in particular, only applies to New Jersey employers that have 15 or more employees. If you work for a much smaller employer, then you don’t enjoy these federal protections.
However, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. It applies to all employers in the state, regardless of size. So if you work for a small business, you are protected by the state version of antidiscrimination law.
Give Us a Call to Learn More about Autism Discrimination in New Jersey
Autistic employees are valuable to the state of New Jersey, and our laws reflect that. If you believe you have suffered discrimination or retaliation, or if an employer refuses to make a reasonable accommodation, contact us. One of our New Jersey employment discrimination lawyers will meet with you for an initial consultation.