Can an Employer Ask for Proof of Disability?
January 9, 2024 | Employment Law
Discrimination in the workplace is far too common. Understanding whether an employer can legally request proof of a disability is essential for employees and employers. Fortunately, laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) provide protections for workers with disabilities.
What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law. It prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in many areas, including employment. The ADA applies to Pennsylvania employers with 15 or more employees.
If you or a loved one have a disability, the ADA offers general protections, including:
- A Right to Fair Treatment: Employers covered by the ADA cannot discriminate against you because of your disability.
- A Right to Reasonable Accommodations: Employers covered by the ADA must offer reasonable accommodations. These are workplace adjustments or modifications that assist you in performing your job. There is an exception if the accommodation would cause significant difficulty or expense.
- A Right to Privacy: Employers covered by the ADA must keep your medical information confidential. It must also be kept separately from your personnel file.
These are just some of the main rights given to employees under the ADA. If you believe your workplace rights have been infringed, consult a Harrisburg employment discrimination lawyer.
What Is the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA)?
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) is similar to the ADA. However, the PHRA applies to PA employers with four or more employees. The PHRA similarly prohibits discrimination based on disability. It also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities unless doing so would impose an undue hardship.
Requests for Proof of Disability in a Pennsylvania Workplace
The ADA and PHRA afford certain legal protections to workers with disabilities. This sometimes creates pressure for workers to prove their disability in the workplace. But can an employer ask for proof of disability?
An employer may ask for proof of disability if you request a reasonable accommodation. You may need to provide documentation that confirms your disability or explains why the requested accommodation is necessary for your job.
A medical provider can provide documentation that explains your disability. They can also discuss its impact on your work and your need for accommodation.
Proof of disability may also be required under other employment laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA provides some workers with unpaid leave for certain medical and family reasons. If you request FMLA leave, your employer may require medical documentation to establish whether you qualify. This ensures it is granted appropriately.
Limitations on Requests for Proof of Disability in Pennsylvania
You should note that there are limitations on what employers can request. The ADA protects your privacy in the workplace by restricting what employers can demand as proof of your disability.
Employers should not demand more information than necessary to establish your disability. For example, requests for your complete medical file are almost always inappropriate. Instead, your employer is only entitled to information directly related to your disability. This includes your need for accommodation. Information about your disability should only be shared with staff who need to know.
It is important for Pennsylvania employees and employers to understand laws like the ADA and PHRA. Employers should ensure that their policies comply with state and federal laws. If you believe your employer’s requests seem excessive, seek advice from a Harrisburg employment discrimination attorney. We can help you evaluate the specifics of your case.
Contact a Harrisburg Disability Discrimination Lawyer If You Need Advice
The Americans with Disabilities Act provides workplace protections for employees with disabilities nationwide. Understanding your rights is important for employees and employers alike.
If you encounter issues related to disability discrimination, schedule a consultation with our Harrisburg employment discrimination lawyers. We can evaluate reasonable accommodations and requests for proof of disability.
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