It’s All About Perceptions

Generally speaking, if my boss decides that my job performance is unacceptable, I can be fired for poor performance. Pretty cut and dry. But what if my poor performance is outside of my control because I have some kind of disability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination against an employee because of their disability. The company is obligated to engage in what is called the “interactive dialog process” to see if there is a way to make a “reasonable accommodation” to the job so that the employee can still be successful in that job despite their disability.

Where things can get dicey is when the employer thinks or suspects there might be some kind of disability that is interfering with the job performance, but the employee doesn’t volunteer to confirm that suspicion.

Best advice? Keep your suspicions and thoughts to yourself, and focus solely upon job performance. Because if you speak your thoughts, whether or not I actually have the disability that you think I have, the mere fact that you believe me to be disabled obligates you to now engage in an interactive dialog to seek a reasonable accommodation for my disability. Whether that disability is real, or merely perceived.