"I Quit!" - An ADA Story
Written By: Jennifer W. Williams
I walked out of a nearly six-figure job with a well-known corporation after getting my foot in the door with a contract other people would have killed for. More surprisingly, I didn’t even finish my week.
I wanted this position. I worked hard my entire life to land a contract like this one. It was likely to lead to a permanent career with this company—a company that has great benefits and supposedly prides itself on DEIA initiatives. I was thrilled.
Then I started.
I am disabled. I always self-identify on all hiring paperwork, and I also told the hiring manager during my interview. I don’t hide my disability. I shouldn’t have to. I do good work. I am talented. I deserve the accommodations I require. I am worth those accommodations. All disabled people are.
My first day, my supervisor took me up three flights of stairs to the office even when I tried to tell him I couldn’t walk up all those stairs. When we got to the top I carefully stated that I have a heart condition and I really can’t do that. I felt sick. I was clammy. I was dizzy. I was nauseated. I forced myself to push through to find out where my desk was. It was only day one. The next day he again took me up the same stairs instead of using the elevator. I found out it was because we contractors did not yet have badges for the elevators by those stairs. I’m disabled I can’t do that. I need access.
I again explained my need for access. I also explained my need for access to disabled doors in the event that I needed to use my walker. My supervisor told me he was working on it.
On day three, he met me at a closer entrance and used his badge to get me up some elevators. I still had to walk an incredibly long way to my desk.
This was a hybrid writing position. I began to wonder why it couldn’t be made remote for me. There was truly no logical reason I couldn’t do this job remotely. I still had no keycard: no access to certain elevators, no access to my computer, and no access to disabled doors.
The strain on my body was immense. Every day I came home from work and slept until my husband woke me gently to try to get me to eat and take my medications. Then I would sleep again until time to get back up.
On day four, I finally had a keycard, but when I badged the disabled door….it didn’t work.
I didn’t have access to the disabled door. At that moment, I realized that this corporation didn’t actually value DEIA. You cannot value DEIA if you don’t value disabled people. You can’t value disabled people if you can’t give them access on day one.
So I took the elevator upstairs, and I quit. I deserve more than broken promises and a job that makes me sick by not accommodating me. I deserve to work for a company that gives me the accommodations I need to do my job effectively without hurting my body.