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Fired and Dyslexic

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I live in California and I am by trade an Auto Mechanic with over 13 yrs. experience. I was recently fired from a Auto Repair shop after only 5 weeks from hire as a Mechanic. I had informed the owners of the shop within the first few weeks that I had Dyslexia and had poor handwriting. One of the owners told me that they could work with that, and honestly I myself saw no problems because of my disability because I can read well and all that I had to write was the occasional work order if the boss was busy and in my 13 yrs in this field, it was never an issue. So I went about my job until one day I showed up for work and was met in front of the shop by one of the owners, and in front of all the other employees, was told I was fired because I couldn't read the work orders. I had never been warned about anything before that day, and I hadn't had any trouble reading the work orders, nor had any car repair problems that I was aware of. I was given a employee booklet on hire and read about the probation period that I was still in when let go,and all it said was that based upon my knowledge I would be kept on after the probation, but if there where any problems at any time I would be warned. Can they do what they did to me legally?


I'm a Northern Girl

Did you at any time ask for an accomodation for your disability? Just telling them you had one is not enough.


I didn't ask for any special accomodations because my being dyslexic had never interferred with my abilities as a mechanic before. The only reason I even mentioned it was because I was asked to write out work orders, which wasn't part of my job description when I was hired, shops usually have service writers for that. Anyway, when I informed them I had a problem writing, I was told that they would work with me on it, so I guess that could be considered an accomodation maybe?


I'm a Northern Girl
There is no way under this forum that we will be able to determine whether the ADA has been violated in this situation; it's too situation specific. (That's going to be the case for any ADA claims, not just yours.) Let me tell you what the ADA does and does not require.

First of all, NO condition is automatically covered under the ADA with one exception which is not remotely relevant here. So before you can be considered disabled for the purpose of this job, you need to self-identify yourself as disabled AND request an accomodation. The accomodation must be reasonable in that it does not put any kind of financial or unreasonable logistical hardship on the employer, but it must at the same time allow you to perform the essential functions of the position. The employer is NOT permitted to guess or assume that you need an accomodation; self-identifying is not enough. The burden is on you to notify them that an accomodation is needed.

Once you have identified yourself as disabled and requested an accomodation, the employer is required to:
1.) Determine whether or not your disability qualifies under the ADA. To qualify, the condition must severely impact one or more major life functions. The employer IS allowed to go to outside professionals (your doctor or other health care professional, in most cases) to determine whether or not this is the case for you. In the event that your condition qualifies under the ADA, they must
2. Work with you to identify a reasonable accomodation that will allow you to perform the essential functions of the position you were hired for.

The employer is NOT required to:
1.) Eliminate any of the essential functions of your position
2.) Create a new job for you
3.) Allow a sub-standard performance that they would not accept in a non-disabled employee
4.) Transfer you into a new job that you are not qualified for
5.) Bump you into a position that would otherwise have gone to someone else, in a bona fide seniority system
6.) Give you the accomodation that you prefer
7.) Give you the accomodation that your doctor recommends

If, after trying to accomodate your disability, the company determines that you are unable to complete the essential functions of your condition with or without an accomodation, they are allowed to terminate your employment.

It all starts with your request. As I said, they are NOT allowed to assume that you need an accomodation, even if they have been notified that you have a disability. The ADA recognizes that everyone's situation is different, and given two people with the same disability, one might need an accomodation and the other not. The employer is neither a doctor nor a learning disability specialist. They may not make a judgement call as to who does or does not need an accomodation.

So, what all this boils down to is, if you did not request an accomodation I suspect that your termination would stand.

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