Our firm has sued a Twin Cities accounting firm on behalf of a learning disabled accountant. The young accountant, who has suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”) since he was a child, disclosed his disability to his supervisor at the time of his first performance evaluation.
Despite being fully capable of being successful at the job, the young man wanted to be sure his supervisor knew that he thinks, learns, and works in a different way than others, particularly since he noticed a few comments on his evaluation that seemed to signal a concern with the way he processed information and executed tasks. The accountant felt that it would help everyone involved to be aware of his slight disability. But, soon after disclosing his disability and requesting slight accommodation, he was fired.
The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act both protect against discrimination based on disability. If an individual is capable of doing their job, with or without an accommodation from their employer, it is illegal for an employer or prospective employer to take adverse action against that individual.
Adults with ADHD are often afraid of disclosing their disability to their employers out of fear that they will be subject to increased scrutiny and/or adverse measures such as corrective action or termination. This is precisely what laws like the ADA and the MHRA are designed to protect. With little or no accommodation from their employers, these adults can usually be very successful in almost any industry and position. To discriminate against them violates the spirit and the letter of state and federal law.
Employers who violate these laws by acting in unfair and discriminatory ways may be required to pay damages suffered by the disabled employee, including economic harm, lost earnings and benefits, embarrassment, emotional distress, humiliation, and more.
Joshua Newville is an attorney and mediator based in Minnesota. He litigates employment and civil rights cases, serves as a mediator for civil disputes, and provides employment law advice.