Providing adequate parking for people with disabilities isn’t simply a good business practice for your employer, it’s the law. Parking is one of the most visible displays of disability accessibility in the United States. How many disabled parking spaces your employer provides for you isn’t simply a courtesy, it’s regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That’s why it’s important to know your rights as an employee when it comes to disabled parking spaces.
The number of spaces delegated to accommodate both employees and customers is a balancing act not every employer can perform successfully. If you’re concerned about the number of disabled parking spaces your employer has, it’s important to know your rights and to understand what you can do if they’re not complying with the law.
Your Right to Work
The ADA makes it illegal for a disabled person to be discriminated against as an employee. It also makes it illegal to discriminate against those with disabilities when providing local and state government services, transportation, telecommunications, and public accommodations.
Who does the ADA protect? If you’re are qualified to perform a job and you are disabled – i.e. you have mental or physical impairments that limit major life activities – then the ADA protects you from being discriminated against due to your disability.
When working at your job, you must be able to perform the essential duties of the job without accommodation, but reasonable accommodations to your work environment, such as access to disabled parking, are your right as well.
Legal Requirements of Employers
While the ADA does specify that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities so they may access benefits of employment, such as parking, it doesn’t specify exactly how far an employer has to go to fulfil it.
If your employer doesn’t provide parking as a benefit of employment, then they also don’t have to provide you with a disabled parking space to follow the law. Of course, your local and state government may have made some provisions outside of this federal law, so it’s best to check with state and local agencies to know your rights. In Connecticut, Vermont, and New York, for example, employers may need to provide parking accommodations even if it’s not a benefit to other employees.
If your employer does provide parking, then they must provide a certain number of spots for disabled parking, depending on how large the parking lot is. Lots with 25 or fewer spaces need only provide one disabled parking space to meet the requirements of federal law. Lots with 25 to 50 spaces must have two disabled parking spots, and so on.
If You Have a Disabled Parking Permit
You may find yourself in a situation where you have a state-issued disability permit, but your employer does not provide parking as a benefit of employment – but they do offer parking to customers. In that case, do they have to allow you to park in customer parking?
Under the ADA, your employer does not have to allow you to park in the customer lot. It doesn’t matter if you have a state-issued disabled parking permit or not – though you may want to check with state and local agencies to make sure.
The reason behind this is that the ADA requirements of a disability are different than qualifications for a parking permit. Also, employers likely aren’t required by law to allow any employees to park in customer parking. If no employees are allowed to park in customer parking, then there’s a good chance your disability parking permit won’t make a difference – it’s simply not a reasonable accommodation your employer has to make.
What If Your Employer Won’t Meet the Requirements?
When your employer is looking to accommodate your disability under the ADA, they should look at each case individually. It’s their responsibility to find out what you need and how to reasonably provide it for you in order for you to do your job. If parking is something they offer other employees, then it should be offered to you as well.
If you think your employer is not making reasonable accommodations for you under the ADA and you feel discriminated against due to your disability, you should contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You usually have 180 days to file after the alleged discrimination has taken place. Check with your state and local government offices too, since they may have a different timeline under which to file to provide you relief.
Any time you feel as if you aren’t having your disability accommodated in a reasonable way, the best thing to do is to discuss it directly with your employer. If they don’t take action, reach out to the channels provided to you under the law.