If you are a Federal employee who has a qualified disability, then your employee rights under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit your Federal employer from discriminating against you on the basis of your disability.
If you have a qualified disability and work for an employer who provides goods or services to the Federal government under a contract of over $10,000, then Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your disability.
If you have a qualified disability and work for an employer who receives financial assistance from the Federal government, then Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your disability.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS qualifies as a disability under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as does recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction.
In addition to prohibiting disability discrimination, your employee rights under the Act also require the employers mentioned above to reasonably accommodate you in the workplace; for example, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires Federal employers to make electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to disabled Federal employees.
Your employer is not required to grant your preferred accommodations under the Rehabilitation Act; rather your employer is required to grant you only reasonable accommodations that do not cause undue hardship on your employer or coworkers.
The Rehabilitation Act provides for legal recourse, such as recovery of back pay, benefits and attorney fees, should an employer discriminate against you in violation of your employee rights under the Act. You may report an employer violation to the government agency indicated below, on your own or through your attorney (or another representative).
In any case, don't delay for too long; a relatively short statute of limitations applies for filing a compliant or taking other legal action, starting from the date that the initial employer violation occurred.
As you might have discovered by now, the Rehabilitation Act is intertwined with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act, which makes it rather complex. If you need help regarding disability discrimination, then contact the appropriate agency indicated above or consult an attorney. Attorneys often take disability discrimination cases on a contingency basis.
See also Disability.gov, a Federal Government Web site designed to help disabled people.
Thanks to the U.S. Department of Labor, an online database of disabled college students and recent grads who are seeking employment is now available. Eligible college students and grads may sign up through their schools, and employers may search the database for disabled job candidates. See the Web site Workforce Recruitment Program for more information.