How 'Physical Requirements' Forms Discriminate Against Employees With Disabilities

It was 2016 and I had worked my first part time job for a little over three years since receiving Social Security benefits in 2011. Many transitions were taking place with my employer, and a once kind and accommodating company seemingly went from understanding my disabilities and situation to overnight clearing out staff and re-writing their employee requirements form to have added physical requirements. This new form included many obstacles a disabled individual like myself could not sign off on. But in order to keep my job of three years, I had to sign. It felt written to eliminate people like myself who were applying or already within the company.

More and more I am starting to see this as I look for part time work. The advertisement will say “we don’t discriminate,” yet in order to be employed they have a laundry list of “conditions and physical requirements” you must meet. Let’s be honest though — for most of these jobs, the requirements they list would not even be relevant. They seem like a way to weed disabled individuals out.

So with my employer, I explained I would like to continue working in the stock room. They said I had “X” amount of time to gain required documents from doctors to continue with shipment. I felt betrayed after all the hard work I put into the company. I felt discriminated against. I should have had no need to explain my situation; after three years of employment, they knew my health conditions and up until that point accommodated my situation. Now they wanted documentation of my disabilities!

I can’t sign those forms saying I can lift 20 pounds when I can’t. Yet I guarantee I would never be forced to lift 20 pounds at that job. Every part time job I research now has “must be able to do” physical requirements listed. Because I can’t sign off, it leaves me and other disabled individuals with no options to find part time work — and disability income is not enough to live on.

Between being reviewed yearly and not having options for part time jobs, it seems like the system is shifting and becoming increasingly difficult for disabled individuals — both with employer accommodations situations and SSA. How is your experience finding part time work? Have you come across or signed the requirement form? If so, did you fib when you signed it to be able to gain employment? How does your employer treat and work with you? Are you finding that things are getting tougher for disabled workers?

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