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Monday, January 11, 2016

Limits to Legal Protections

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families, including discrimination.

At Federal Times, Cheri Cannon writes that the Rehabilitation Act forbids the federal government to discriminate against an employee because of an association with a disabled person.  But there are limits to this protection.
[An] employee’s association with an autistic child does not make a reasonable accommodation in the form of a more flexible work schedule mandatory. In Helena, an EEOC administrative judge had found the agency discriminated against the complainant by denying his request for a change in work shift so he could care for his autistic son. The complainant’s supervisor rejected this request, saying, “You should have made arrangements for your son before you accepted the position. Therefore, your request for a shift change is denied.” However, the Commission reversed the administrative judge’s position, finding the complainant failed to show “that the adverse employment action occurred under circumstances which raised a reasonable inference that his son’s disability was a determining factor in the employer’s decision.” The agency showed that it had similarly denied shift change requests from non-disabled employees and how it only granted a temporary request to afford another employee more time to find child care.