Learn ALL About Your Rights Before You Give Your Employer An Earful About Them

On various occasions I have received calls from employees who became aware of various legal rights (e.g. ADA discrimination law rights) from information they found on the internet (e.g. EEOC’s website pages about ADA rights).

While it is a great thing to educate yourself, please do not make the mistake of assuming the information you learned is comprehensive, or means what you think it does.  And please, please don’t rush to your employer, and admonish them based on your internet-based understanding of your rights (e.g. “EEOC’s website tells me you’re a bad employer and violating ADA law because you won’t give me the reasonable accommodations I asked for!!”).

There are many, many problems that can arise when an employee avoids talking to an attorney and takes a do-it-yourself analysis of legal rights based on internet research or other incomplete information.

For example, you may learn from internet research that the ADA provides the right to a “reasonable accommodation” for employees who have disabilities.  What you may not have read on the internet is the fact that many federal courts have determined, for many employee-litigants, that their serious physical conditions (e.g. cancer, diabetes) did not meet ADA’s legal definition of a “disability.”  If you have cancer, a court may or may not find that your cancer may qualify as a “disability” under the ADA definition.  Only if your condition is found to be an ADA disability, would you be legally-entitled to any reasonable accommodation.  Moreover, in order to get a legal decision, you may have to expend a good deal of time (possibly years) and expense (e.g. some medical experts will charge hundreds or thousands of dollars an hour to testify whether your condition is a disability).

These are the things that an internet search usually won’t tell you, that a competent employment attorney can.  (Please note: there are some good things that could happen from you pursuing your legal rights that an employment attorney could tell you about too; but the purpose of this post is to tell you how to prevent bad things from happening).

Before you rush to admonish your employer about any legal right, you should strongly consider talking to an attorney.  Many employee rights attorneys will provide free initial consultations over the phone, and even a single consultation should educate you about some wrong assumptions you made based on internet information, and could save you from making some serious mistakes in your future conduct with respect to your employer.

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Filed under Employee Tip - Considering a Legal Action, Employee Tip - Problems at Job

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