Vision impairments including blindness are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the ADA prohibits employers from acts intended to discriminate against an employee. An employer may not refuse to hire or terminate an employee for a visual impairment unless the loss of sight prevents the worker from performing the job. Protected individuals are those who have impairments that substantially limit a major life activity. Persons with monocular vision are also protected by the ADA. The Act does not directly apply to persons who can have their vision corrected by ordinary use of glasses, though in certain settings it may.
Pre-Employment Rights of the Visually Impaired and Blind
Before hiring, an employer is restricted by law from asking vision-specific questions unless the answers to such questions directly affect the ability of a candidate to perform a job function. Neither on the application nor during an interview may an employer ask questions specifically addressing sight. Such questions include whether medications or surgeries related to eyesight are taken or have been performed or whether a candidate has any condition which may impair vision now or in the future, such as diabetes, are not prohibited. An interviewer may ask questions specific to the job function such as the ability to work nights, inspect small components, or the ability to read labels used for packing shipped items.
A prospective employee is not required to volunteer information related to their vision capabilities and the employer may not ask for specifics if the candidate does so. If this is the case, the employer may then ask whether the candidate has need of a reasonable accommodation to perform the job. Information an applicant or employee volunteers relating to their vision impairment must be kept confidential.
Once a conditional offer of employment is made, the employer may not require special screening or a medical exam unless that is part of the normal screening process or if the employer believes there to be a specific safety concern related to the job function. The employer is prohibited from refusing to hire on the basis of a visual disability.
Post-employment Rights of the Visually Impaired and Blind
Visually impaired and blind employees are protected under the ADA. An employer may not discriminate, harass, withhold promotion opportunities, or subject an employee to any other adverse employment action because the person has a visual disability. Furthermore, an employer may not retaliate against an employee that reports harassment or employment discrimination.
After hiring a person, an employer may not ask an employee specific questions related to their vision impairment unless there is good cause for doing so, such as concerns for safety. Even then, the employer must not ask about the disability but rather about the job function. Examples include: Can the employee continue in that specific job role? Does he or she require special accommodations? Can the job be performed safely? In some situations, the employer may be required to provide special accommodations such as assistive technology or material that is printed in Braille.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fight Vision-Related Workplace Discrimination
For more than 30 years, our Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. have been fighting against workplace discrimination in South Jersey and Pennsylvania. If faced with discriminatory practices by your employer because of vision impairments, you need our help. Submit an online contact form or call 215-569-1999 to schedule a confidential consultation now.