What the Law states about Autism Workplace Discrimination


The government ran a survey very recently involving parents and found that the number of autistic children has increased! The rise is significant. Read: Why are Autism rates rising?

Over the past few years – reports CDCP and NCHS – the count of children affected with Autism between 3 and 17 years of age has gone up to 1:45 compared to 1:80 from 2011 to 2013.

Notes from the report:

Children diagnosed with developmental disabilities typically require a substantial number of services and treatments to address both behavioural and developmental challenges.

The parents face unique challenges when it comes to communicating, which can become more difficult due to special impairments brought about by neuro-developmental disorders.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office also found out in 2012 that more than half (54%) of the federal employees were in touch with at least one autistic individual with needs for dependent care—either a child or an adult relative.

The new ‘one child per 45’ is quite frightening; it implies, there is a greater number of parents with a child with special needs. This might mean giving up a well-set career, but knowing how to handle the situation properly can save that sacrifice with the Federal Civil Services.

The Rehabilitation Act prohibits association discrimination. It applies to the federal government, and therefore, to federal managers. The Act clearly states one can’t be assumed less reliable, trustworthy, or capable because he or she has caretaking obligations to an ASD child. An employer is simply doing an unlawful thing when he/she is excluding an individual with such bindings from equal job opportunities or denying some or all benefits.

Discriminating against a qualified individual because of his/her bindings with an individual with a known disability is prohibited by the law. Even federal employees who face association discrimination in the workplace might find a federal employment law attorney the right solution to the problem.

On the other hand, a victim of association discrimination must prove he/she is qualified to hold that position and that it is adverse employment action that’s holding him/her back. The promotion register scores are checked as well as the scores in the employee evaluation process. The complainant must also prove the employer was aware of the relation with the disabled individual and that this relationship has influenced notable adverse incidents.

Note: An employee’s association with an autistic child is not an easy way to a more flexible work schedule. Reasonable accommodations must be made.

Case Study:

For example, in the case of one of our readers, Helena, an agency discriminated against a complainant and denied request for shift changes. The worker needed to care for her son who has autism, but the supervisor rejected his request.

The complainant failed to show any instance of an adverse employment action with reasonable inference. There was no proof of disability of his child becoming a determining factor in the employer’s decision-making. The agency’s records show its similar denials towards shift-change requests from other employees. The agency granted a temporary shift-change once to an employee, who requested it to find better childcare.

You can read the whole judgment of Helena Vs Dept of Defence in the following attachment.


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