I am thinking about asking for a change in staffing in my program. My co-workers (teaching assistants) keep harassing me, because I am spending "too much time on the computer". They have threatened me, saying they are going to start documenting the time I am spending on the computer and report me to the supervisor. My place of work requires I use the computer to check emails, and do paperwork. My co workers do not know I have a disability. I have mentioned verbally that, "I have difficulty reading materials on the computer and could use a little help with paperwork", to my employer, but no action was taken. I am thinking of putting my request in writing. What is your advice?
Employment / Labor Attorney
If you have a disability that is making it difficult to perform all the functions of your job you should ask your employer for a reasonable accommodation. Such a request should be made to a supervisor or human resources in writing and should be as specific as possible.
You are not required to inform your co-workers regarding your disability.
The above answer is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice from an attorney. The above answer is provided in a public forum and questions and answer are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The provision of the above information does not create an attorney-client relationship, and the above information is not legal advice. You should not read this reply to suggest specific advice or to address your exact circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law.
Employment / Labor Attorney
You may also consider reporting to your Human Resources Department or someone in management that you are being harassed because of your disability. That is prohibited by the ADA, but whether it is actual harassment will depend on exactly what your co-workers are saying about your disability (or their perception of your disability) and how often. As was previously mentioned, you have no obligation to disclose your disability to your co-workers. Good luck.
Administrative Law Lawyer
If you cannot do your job because of a disability, but you believe that you could do your job with some reasonable -- REASONABLE -- accommodation by your employer, it is your responsibility to make the fact of your disability know to your employer and to request that your employer engage with you in the interactive process to identify potential reasonable accommodations. Your employer will not be held to have guessed about your problem in the absence of notification by you. And excuses for inadequate performance will not be strengthened by an after-the-fact claim of disability.
Your co-workers have a legal right to scoff and scorn if you are not holding up your end of the job, or not performing to standard. If there is a fact that limits their right to criticize you, such as a disability that affects your performance, their rights can be limited by that fact if they have to know about it. They are not going to be held liable for bias based on a factor or condition that they had no knowledge of. i
Can you handle some candor: it sounds like you are moping along doing an underwhelming job and reaping a lot of grief about that while keeping the potential reason for under-performance all to yourself. If that's your purposeful strategy, so be it, but none of that will get anyone else on the legal hook -- nor you off.
You are in desperate need of an hour or so consultation with a skilled and experienced local employment attorney. You need to step up and take better care of yourself than you have done to this point: go get some good legal advice. "...could use a little help with paperwork..." is simply not gonna get the job done.
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Employment / Labor Attorney
If you believe that, with a reasonable accommodation, you would be able to perform the essential functions of your job, then you should make a formal request for such an accommodation and provide medical documentation in support of such a request. Provided the accommodation request is reasonable, your employer is obligated under the law to accommodate your disability.
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