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Legal Rights of Stroke Survivors in the Workplace

There are two of the main workplace laws that affect individuals coping with life after a stroke. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to help an employee execute their job requirements, and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides job protection when a covered employee takes leave time.

Enjoying rights in the workplace is a two-way street. If you meet your responsibilities, hopefully your employer will do the same and you will both reap the rewards – you will stay gainfully employed and your employer will have a valuable, productive employee.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

Having a disability does not mean that you will not be expected to do your job and comply with conduct standards. If you need a reasonable accommodation to be able to meet a standard, under the ADA your employer must provide that accommodation, unless doing so poses an undue hardship on the employer.

Accommodations can be judged as unreasonable if they would cost too much, be too disruptive to others, or be too much for an employer to do reasonably. If you have a question about these exceptions, see The ADA: Applying Performance and Conduct Standards to Employees with Disabilities.

To invoke your rights under the ADA, you must first let your employer know that you need an accommodation. You also must participate in what is called the “interactive process,” which simply means you and your employer work together to come up with an effective accommodation. Typically, this will consist of providing information about your limitations and sharing any accommodation ideas you have.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

If your employer is covered, you qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act. Under FMLA coverage you can take up to 12 weeks of leave in any 12-month period and your job is protected.

You must inform your employer as soon as you can and then follow your employer’s usual notice or call-in procedures, unless you are unable to do so. You do not have to specifically ask for FMLA leave for your first leave request, but your employer should know your absence may be covered by the FMLA.

By: Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Principal Consultant, Job Accommodation Network

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"Enjoying rights in the workplace is a two-way street. If you meet your responsibilities, hopefully your employer will do the same and you will both reap the rewards."

Protecting Yourself

If you think your rights have been violated, there are enforcement agencies you can contact for help:

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