Are your life circumstances interfering with your ability to perform your job?
If you need to make changes to your work environment in order to perform the essential functions of your job, there may be federal and/or state protections available to you.
Medical Leave & Other Job-Protected Leave
Eligible employees have job protection for leaves of absence due to medical issues, family obligations including bonding with a new or newly adopted child, domestic violence situations, jury duty, and military leave.
Additionally, your employer may have other internal policies that provide you with similar or greater leave protections as a benefit of employment.
Workplace Disability Discrimination & ADA Laws
Unfortunately, disability discrimination in the workplace is far too common and so are employees waiting too long to speak up. Discrimination can show up in hiring decisions, performance evaluations, promotions, and even in everyday workplace decisions.
We understand that it can be difficult to come forward about an issue when you feel like the future of your employment and the way you earn a living are on the line.
If you feel like your work environment is hostile or unsafe and you are not being given proper accommodations, please reach out today to speak with an experienced employment law attorney.
What Qualifies as a Leave or Workplace Accommodations Violation?
Your employer is in violation of the law if they:
Require you to use the phrase “reasonable accommodation” to consider your request for a modification or adjustment to your job due to a disability.
Refuse to consider your request for a reasonable accommodation.
Deny your request for leave as a reasonable accommodation simply because:
– Your employer does not offer leave as an employee benefit;
– You are not eligible for leave under the employer’s policy; or
– You have exhausted the leave the employer provides as a benefit (including leave exhausted under a workers’ compensation program, or the FMLA or similar state or local laws).
Upon notice, employers are required to meaningfully engage in the “interactive process” to determine whether there is a reasonable accommodation that would make it possible for you to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
An employer can only deny a request for a reasonable accommodation after engaging in the interactive process and after determining that providing an accommodation is unduly burdensome.
Lauren Parris Watts
Employment Law Attorney
Lauren counsels clients who have been denied their leave rights or have been subject to disability discrimination in the workplace. Many of Lauren’s clients are interested in early resolution. They hire Lauren to partner with them in negotiating an early resolution with their employer. However, Lauren also represents clients in lawsuits when pre-litigation negotiations prove unsuccessful.
Workplace Accommodations and Leave FAQs
What are “Reasonable” Accommodations?
A reasonable accommodation is a change in the work environment (or the way things are usually done) to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.
For example, reasonable accommodation may include providing an employee with an alternative workstation or work schedule. The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer (“undue hardship”).
If more than one accommodation works, the employer may choose which one to provide.
Is my employer subject to WLAD Laws?
Under the Washington Law Against Discrimination or “WLAD” (the Washington state analog to the ADA), employer is defined as any person acting in the interest of an employer, directly or indirectly, who employs eight or more persons.
The WLAD does not include any religious or sectarian organization not organized for private profit.
Is my employer subject to ADA Laws?
Under the ADA, covered employers are those with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. ADA Laws also apply to employment agencies and labor organizations.
What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.
Under the FMLA, eligibility is dependent on a number of factors including whether: (1) your employer has 50 or more employees, (2) you have worked for for your employer for at least a year, (3) you will have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months immediately preceding your leave, and (4) there are 50 or more employees in, or within 75 miles of, your jobsite.
What is the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)?
Most Washington state employees in need of medical or family leave are entitled to leave and continued compensation through a state insurance program called Paid Family and Medical Leave (also known as “PFML”). While job protection remains contingent on the employee’s eligibility for FMLA, all employees who have worked 820 hours in Washington state over the last year are eligible for leave from work and continued compensation during their leave of absence. (Note: this does not have to be with the same employer.)