Dyslexia Discrimination

You have dyslexia. It’s not your fault. You were born with the condition. Dyslexia is considered a disability under discrimination law, and your employer cannot discriminate against you because of your dyslexia.

You don’t have to be ashamed that you have a developmental disability which results from  problems in areas of the brain that help interpret language. Your learning disability is a specific information processing problem that does not interfere with your ability to think or to understand complex ideas. You may have above-average intelligence, and still have dyslexia. You need to let your employer know, so that you can obtain a reasonable accommodation.

Under the new 2011 regulations promulgated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia are considered to be substantially limited in performing major life activities, such as learning, reading and thinking. Although courts are not required to follow the regulations of the Equal Opportunity Commission, they are often defer to the expertise of the agency.  Courts which have followed this approach have held that other learning disabilities, such as ADHD, are disabilities within the meaning of the ADA. Specifically, New York Federal courts have recently refused to dismiss a case where the employer claimed that dyslexia was not a disability within the meaning of the ADA. Under the 2008 ADA amendments, mitigating measures, such as assistive devices and voice activated software would no longer count towards excluding learning disabilities from coverage under the ADA. If you are employed within New York City, you would have fewer problems with this issue, because the definition of disability is much broader, and the New York City Human Rights Law has not generally been construed to mean that a disability can be discounted merely because there are mitigating measures available which enhance the ability of a disabled person to perform essential job functions.

You are entitled to a reasonable accommodation for your dyslexia, as long as you can perform the essential functions of your job with a reasonable accommodation. For example, your employer may be required to provide you with someone to read a document aloud, speech to text software, a quiet work space, work restructuring, written checklists, work prioritization, proofreading help, a mentor, refresher training, and sensitivity training to promote disability awareness among co-workers.

The important point is whether the reasonable accommodation for your dyslexia is a hardship on your employer. The factors considered are the nature and cost of the accommodations, taking into account the overall financial resources of your employer. A big company can do more. A small company less. But your company cannot subject you to dyslexia disability discrimination, if you can perform the essential functions of your job with a reasonable accommodation for your dyslexia.

If you are afraid to ask for an accommodation, know that your employer cannot retaliate against you for requesting an accommodation. Nor do you have to suffer a hostile environment.

Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 so that we can review if your New York City employer has subjected you to dyslexia disability discrimination in violation of law in New York State or New York City.

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