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Non-Apparent Disabilities and Your Rights at Work

December 1, 2022 Americans with Disabilities Act Claims

If Your Disability Isn’t Easy To See, You Still Have Rights

The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t just cover people with visible physical disabilities. It also offers rights to those with disabilities that aren’t immediately easy to discern. This includes those related to mental illness, chronic pain, and addiction.

Non-apparent disabilities are perhaps the most common kind of disabilities. Approximately one in five individuals has a disability of some kind—and most of the time, you would not know unless the person told you.

Your Rights Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

Your employer is required to provide a reasonable workplace accommodation for you, as long as it doesn’t present an undue burden to them. The accommodation can be anything as long as it works for both employer and employee.

The ADA defines a disability as any health condition that considerably limits one or more major life activities. Those with addiction, mental illness, chronic pain and fatigue, and other conditions that are not immediately apparent can also have their daily lives strongly impacted by their disability.

However, many employees with a non-apparent disability are reluctant to disclose their disability to their employer, for fear that it may impact the way they are treated at work. That can present a barrier to getting accommodations, because you have to disclose in order to start the process.

How to Request an Accommodation

You don’t have to say the exact phrase “I request an accommodation” in order to request one. Many employees start off by discussing the challenge they’re facing, such as “I’m having trouble standing for six hours straight because of my disability.”

It’s your employer’s responsibility to make sure supervisors are trained to identify an accommodation request. Once you make one, you may be referred to an HR officer who can continue the conversation and help devise a solution that would help you the most.

The goal of a reasonable accommodation is to help you perform the essential functions of your job. You may be asked to provide documentation to show that your condition impairs your daily activities enough to qualify as a disability, and your employer may be able to refuse if the accommodation is considered an undue burden. Cost alone is usually not enough to qualify as an undue burden.

What Should I Do if My Employer Has Refused My Accommodation Request?

If you’ve made an accommodation request through the proper channels and your employer has refused, they may be in violation of ADA law.

Your first step should be to speak with a knowledgeable employment lawyer. Your attorney can assess the situation, determine whether the refusal was unlawful, and help you gain restitution.

Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today. 

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.