If you are a disabled vet, you are protected from workplace discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA") – or, if you are a Federal or US Post Office employee, by Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act – and by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
The Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehab Act:
If you are disabled, or are on record as having a disability, or even if your employer simply thinks that you are disabled, the ADA protects you from discrimination.
The ADA defines “disability” differently than the Department of Defense and the VA do, so do not assume that a determination regarding disability by DoD or VA determines whether you are protected by the ADA. Under the ADA, conditions or injuries that significantly impair your mobility or your ability to see or hear, the partial or complete loss of a limb, major depressive disorders, and PTSD are all considered disabilities. An attorney knowledgeable in the ADA can help you determine if your disability qualifies as a disability under the ADA.
If you are disabled under the ADA and applying for a job, and you know that you meet the advertised requirements for the position, you are within your rights to ask for an accommodation to help you in the application or interview process. For example, if because of your disability you need test questions read to you, or your answers recorded orally, or more time on the test, the ADA requires that the company interviewing you (unless it is very small) give you these accommodations.
If you are working for a company and your disability is making it difficult for you to do important parts of your job, the ADA says that you should identify to your boss the assistance you need that would help you to perform all of the important parts of your job. Your boss can make other proposals, suggesting different ways to address the same need, but whatever the mode of accommodation, your boss is required by law to accommodate you unless doing so would pose a significant financial or logistical strain for the company.
If your employer is not open to giving you the supports you need to be able to do your job despite your disability, you may want the support of an attorney experienced in the ADA, who can work with your boss to ensure that you have the accommodation you need to succeed in the workplace.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act:
USERRA, which applies to all employers, no matter how small, fundamentally prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because of their military status (e.g., active reserve) or military obligations (e.g., reservist’s monthly training). But it also requires an employer to do still more to help a disabled Vet on the job than even the ADA. Under USERRA, your Boss may have obligations to retrain a veteran to qualify for a job, whatever his veteran status.
Please note that this article is a general summary of law and omits many important details, footnotes, and caveats. It is no substitute for legal advice from a lawyer based on your particular circumstances. For more information or to speak with a lawyer, please call us at (301) 656-6905 or send us an email at email@example.com.