Speech Language Disease

WHAT IS A SPEECH LANGUAGE DISEASE?

Speech disorders or speech impediments are communication disorders that interrupt 'normal' speech. These disorders can encompass stuttering, lisps, and vocal dysphonia. Someone whose speech disorder renders him or her totally unable to speak is considered mute.

Speech disorders are often caused by hearing loss or neurological disorders. Speech disorders include stuttering, lisps, cluttering, spasmodic dysphonia, and rhotacism. Speech disorders can occasionally be treated, but rarely cured, with speech therapy.

WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF A SPEECH LANGUAGE DISEASE

  • Your employer does not allow you to miss work for medical appointments
  • Your employer does not accommodate your need to take a reasonable amount of time off of work
  • Your employer will not provide reasonable on-site accommodations for your disability
  • Your employer does not accommodate your need to attend speech therapy sessions

HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE A SPEECH LANGUAGE DISEASE

To state a cause of action for disability discrimination, an employee must be disabled, regarded as disabled, or have a record of being disabled. The employee must then show that:

  • his or her disability results in physical limitations
  • that he or she can still perform the essential functions of the job (with or without reasonable accommodations)
  • and that the employer took some adverse action (such as not hiring, firing, or demoting the employee) on the basis of that disability

Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act provide protection against discrimination based on disability. A speech language disease is such a disability, deserving of protection from discrimination, as long as the individual is substantially limited in a life activity. A speech disorder will not be considered a disability unless it substantially hinders the individual's ability to work. If the speech disorder is severe enough, then the employer may not take any adverse action against an employee because of the employee's speech language disease. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with a speech disorder so as to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. The law will protect an employee whose employer does not provide these necessary accommodations. For example, if the individual needs to occasionally leave work in order to attend speech therapy sessions, the employer has an obligation to accommodate the individual accordingly, unless doing so would unduly burden the employer.

Further Information