I am not a lawyer, so I’m not here to give legal advice or help you sue somebody. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I do have a disability though. I also have a daughter with a long list of disabilities.

I have been a victim of disability discrimination in the workplace, and I’ve met with the attornies, talked with Human Resource officers, talked with corporate legal, and been around that block several times. It is not fun. I’ve learned quite a bit through this process and that knowledge is what I like to share with others.

There are certain protections and rights granted by federal law that apply to everybody. Then there are protections and rights granted by each individual state. With so much variation from state to state, it’s very important to document, yes physically write down, your personal disability story and details of any discrimination.

If you end up meeting with a lawyer or other disability advocate, it will be imperative that you have a written narrative of any discrimination that has occurred.

In my own case, I have a congenital spinal defect that’s led to a severe slip (spondylolisthesis) of my lumbar spine. It’s left me with severe persistent pain in my lower back and both legs. Now, I live in the State of Indiana, a very red, conservative, business-friendly state. We’re not the most disability-friendly state, as we don’t have many laws protecting worker’s rights. Our legislature tends to side with protecting the rights of business owners versus the rights of the worker.

In my case, the disability discrimination that I experienced has been in the workplace. Any disabled worker in the United States is guaranteed certain protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (if your employer qualifies for these protections) and certain subsequent laws. These protections include access to reasonable accommodations like adjustments or changes to the workspace that allow you to better execute your job function or enjoy the same benefits that non-disabled employees enjoy.

The problem here is all the caveats. There are so many “ifs” pertaining to these protections that you truly have to research the protections that apply to your situation. There are several ways to accomplish this. For starters, you can start researching the protections yourself by reading online resources.

I’d recommend performing a Google search for “Your State + Disability Rights” and see what specific resources there are for workers in your state. Also, most attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss your situation, so you can meet with an attorney to discuss your options as well.

The State of Indiana has a commission called the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services (IPAS) Commission and they are responsible for investigating and enforcing the disability rights within Indiana. Their website is full of great information and links to resources. Your state likely has a similar commission or government agency.

You can find resources for your situation by visiting sites like: