All employees in California have a right to work in an environment free of discrimination. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for those with autism to face discrimination in the workplace.
What is autism?
Autism is a medical condition also known as autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. It can cause a person to exhibit difficulty communicating or understanding other people’s views and emotions. It may also result in social awkwardness and behavioral issues. It is considered a disability, which means that people with autism are included in a protected class of people. It is illegal for individuals with disabilities to be discriminated against in the workplace. However, employers, supervisors and coworkers of someone with autism might not even realize that their behavior toward an employee with autism is actually discrimination.
What happens if you have autism and face workplace discrimination?
It’s illegal for employers to discriminate against people with disabilities in any way. This includes all aspects of the application and hiring process as well as how current employees are treated. If a person with autism is fully qualified for the job, they cannot be denied that job or an opportunity. Employers must treat them equally in the workplace.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, has laws in place regarding workplace discrimination. According to the EEOC, workers with autism are due the same opportunities as anyone else. They should not be denied a raise, promotion or specific projects if they are fully qualified for them. Reasonable accommodations should also be made to help them adjust in the workplace if needed. This might include the following:
- Letting them take short breaks when they become distracted
- Giving them one task at a time
- Giving them a quiet space to work so that they can focus
- Minimizing distractions
- Allowing them to work from home
- Giving them clear instructions
If you have autism and have faced workplace discrimination, there are ways to hold your employer liable. It’s important to make sure your employer respects your rights.