Has my employer violated my rights by disclosing an illness of mineand using it against me?

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Has my employer violated my rights by disclosing an illness of mineand using it against me?

About a year ago in the privacy of my supervisors office I told her, in confidence that I had Aspergers syndrome. I told her this at the time because there was an issue and I was trying to make her understand why I misunderstood something someone said and reacted in a peculiar way. She has treated me differently most of the time since then but I thought it was maybe just me being paranoid. Well, I just got my review, and there is an entire paragraph that discusses the fact that I have Aspergers. She used it to justify my low raise.

Asked on September 2, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You may wish to speak with an employment attorney--whether you have a cause of action will depend on the exact circumstances.

First, understand that there is not necessarily anything improper about a supervisor, apprised of a medical condition, telling that to HR or upper management. If the condition could affect work, then the supervisor may disclose it to responsible parties in the company, and you thought she could not, you were, unfortunately, mistaken.

Second, a company may not discriminate against someone on the basis of a disability. But discriminating means making "reasonable accomodations," which means making adjustments to work or scheduling, or providing assistive technology, that lets the disabled employee do his or her work *so long as* the costs or changes are not to expensive or disruptive to the employer. An employer may also refuse reasonably to employee people in capacities they cannot do, on account of their condition; and it *may* be possible to take an employee's performance, even if related to a disability, into consideration in terms of raises and promotions. To use a very different example: say someone has a spinal condtion that prevents lifting more than 30 lbs. The person is empoloyed in a shipping center and is given light jobs only. If there are other workers who are more productive because they don't have limitations, it may be possible to give them larger raises or bonuses.

So it is possible that giving you a low raise was illegal discrimination; but it also could be proper, if your Aspergers means that you simply can't do the job as well as other workers. It depends on the situation.


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