There are many adults in California with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, who are perfectly capable of succeeding in many different career fields. However, there is high unemployment among people with ASD, which could be in part due to discrimination.
Employers are not allowed to discriminate against people with ASD
ASD is a life-long developmental disorder that impacts behavior, communication, and social interaction. People with ASD have a range of intellectual capacities, and there are many autistic people with above-average intelligence. Employers often benefit from an autistic individual’s strengths in logical thinking, memorization, and quick learning.
While autism is usually not totally debilitating, it is still considered a disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that an employer is legally barred from discriminating against an autistic employee based on their condition. Some of the challenges autistic people can face in an employment setting include:
• Difficulty with conversations
• Challenges reading social cues
• Strong need for predictable routines
• Intense focus on one activity
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Physical ticks
It is illegal for an employer to engage in discrimination and harassment because an employee displays symptoms of ASD. Employers are also required to provide autistic employees with reasonable workplace accommodations. For example, an employer should respect and understand that a sudden change in the work routine is more difficult for a person with ASD. Employers may also provide reasonable accommodations by minimizing visual and auditory distractions in the work environment.
What to do if you have been discriminated against for ASD
If you believe that you were passed over for a job or fired because you have ASD, you may be able to file a complaint against the employer. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles workplace discrimination complaints including cases that involve ASD.