Are complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission anonymous?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal enforcement agency for Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Once you file a charge against an employer with the EEOC, they will disclose to the employer that a charge has been accepted on the basis of an individual’s complaint so that the employer has the ability to address it. If you wish to remain anonymous, they will accept a charge that is filed on behalf of someone else who has been the victim of discrimination. A person or an organization can file the charge. In such cases, they usually do not tell the employer whom the charge was filed on behalf of, but they do tell the employer the name of the person or organization who filed the charge.
Are there State laws that protect people with disabilities?
Yes. Where the ADA sets the floor for disability rights and protections, states can go further to protect individual rights. Laws such as the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and the New Jersey Law against Discrimination (NJLAD) were created to strengthen protections of people in those states. One example of how a state law can differ from the ADA is where under Title I employment the ADA covers private employers that employ 15 or more employees, the NJ Law against Discrimination covers private employers of any size in the state.
Are there any State or Federal agencies that proactively enforce the ADA?
While multiple Federal agencies are tasked with enforcing parts of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they rely on individuals to file complaints to start the process. The ADA is a complaint-driven law. Title I (employment provisions of the ADA) are covered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Department of Justice enforces Title II (state and local government) and Title III (places of public accommodation). Other federal agencies with enforcement responsibilities include the Department of Transportation and the Federal Communications Commission. At a State level you will find agencies such as NY State Division of Human Rights or the NJ Division on Civil Rights that enforce state nondiscrimination laws.
Is an assigned accessible parking space a type of reasonable accommodation?
Generally, yes. Where an employer provides employee parking, they also need to provide accessible parking to employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause an undue hardship. While an employer may limit employee access to accessible spaces reserved for customers, they still must consider creating a reserved and accessible space for an employee with disability related needs.
Can telecommuting be a type of reasonable accommodation for work?
Yes and no. If an employee needs to be on-site to meet the essential functions of the job, such as a machinist or a cashier, then telecommuting would not meet the reasonable standard. If during the interactive dialogue process it is discovered that the employee has minimal need for in-person interaction and can meet the essential job requirements with the use of tools like a computer and phone, than yes, this could be seen as a form of reasonable accommodation. As with any reasonable accommodation request from an employer, you must also still consider if the accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the employer in terms of its nature, operation, resources, and circumstance.
Can a job coach be a type of reasonable accommodation?
A: Yes. Job coaching can benefit employees with different types of disabilities and work-related needs. For example, a job coach can assist an employee to learn job duties, to create strategies for organizing and completing tasks, and to acclimate to the workplace. Individuals who need job coaching may qualify for this as a paid service from their state vocational rehabilitation agency.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that, “An employer may be required to allow a job coach paid by a public or private social service agency to accompany the employee at the job site as a reasonable accommodation.” For more, see the EEOC's Press Release: EEOC Sues Comfort Suites for Disability Discrimination.
For more information about job coaches generally, you can download a handy fact sheet from Northeast ADA Center.
Is my ADA Complaint with the Department of Justice anonymous?
The Department of Justice (DOJ) does require a complainant to file personal information when filing a complaint. If the DOJ does look to seek action, many times in the form of mediation, it would contact you and the entity you filed a complaint about to determine if both parties want to move forward to resolve the issue. Here is what the DOJ has to say on disclosure. The DOJ Disability Rights Section will not disclose your name or other identifying information about you unless it is necessary for enforcement activities against an entity alleged to have violated federal law, required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, disclosure is permitted pursuant to the Privacy Act, or is otherwise required by law.
Can I ask for a new supervisor as a reasonable accommodation?
Probably not. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that an employer does not have to provide an employee with a new supervisor as a reasonable accommodation. In addition, multiple court decisions have concluded that an inability to get along with one’s supervisor “does not give rise” to a disability that is protected by the ADA. Although an employer is not required to change supervisors, the employer may be required to provide other accommodations, such as a change in the supervisory method used. Employees with disabilities are protected from disability-based discrimination or harassment by a supervisor and others in the workplace. Employers may want to consider implementing management techniques that “set a tone” for a positive workplace culture, including developing procedures to evaluate the effectiveness of accommodations, educating all employees on their right to accommodations, and providing sensitivity awareness training to co-workers and supervisors.
Can my employer ask about my disability after they have made me a job offer?
Yes. Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offers this guidance. Once an employee is on the job, his/her actual performance is the best measure of ability to do the job. When a need arises to question the ability of an employee to do the essential functions of his/her job or to question whether the employee can do the job without posing a direct threat due to a medical condition, it may be job-related and consistent with business necessity for an employer to make disability-related inquiries or require a medical examination.