ADA Accommodation Lawyers
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What Is the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act makes discrimination against disabled persons illegal. Discrimination is illegal in the contexts of employment, public services, telecommunications and public accommodations.
Unlike other anti-discrimination laws, the ADA places an affirmative duty on employers to accommodate qualified disabled individuals.
It is also illegal to discriminate against someone for being associated with a disabled person. For example, an employer cannot remove an employee from insurance coverage because the employee’s spouse is bound to a wheelchair. Nor can an employer terminate an employee for being in a relationship with a person who has HIV.
What Is a Disability?
Under the ADA, a disability is a mental or physical impairment that limits major life activities. Such disabilities include:
- Impaired hearing or sight
- Physical handicaps
- Learning disabilities
- Cancer and HIV/AIDS
- Recovering drug addiction or alcoholism (NOT present users)
What Is an Accommodation?
The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Reasonable accommodations are those that do not impose a serious hardship or expense on the employer. What is "reasonable" depends on the size and wealth of the employer or company.
The ADA lists a number of accommodations which could be deemed "reasonable." These accommodations include, but are not limited to:
- Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities
- Job restructuring,
- Modifying work schedules
- Reassignment to a vacant position
- Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices
- Training materials or policies
- Provision of qualified readers or interpreters
When Does My Employer Have to Make an Accommodation?
Employers are only required to make an accommodation for an employee with a "known" disability. If you would like an accommodation, just request one. As soon as you request an accommodation, and perhaps suggest an appropriate one, you employer must respond.
What If My Employer Refuses to Make an Accommodation?
If your employer refuses to make a reasonable accommodation after a timely request, you may be a victim of discrimination. There are several state and federal laws that protect you from this violation of your rights. See an attorney to discuss your options.
What is an Undue Hardship?
"Undue hardship" means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense, especially if the accommodation would significantly injure the employer financially.
Some courts have interpreted undue hardship to mean that the benefits of accommodating a disabled employee should not outweigh the burden on the business.
What Defenses Would an Employer Have If Sued for Disability Discrimination?
There are a number of defenses an employer could offer as an alternative to disability discrimination liability. These defenses include, but are not limited to:
- The plaintiff is not qualified for the job, with or without the accommodation.
- The plaintiff is not disabled.
- The plaintiff poses a direct threat to him/herself or others
- The accommodations are unreasonable
- The accommodations would pose an undue hardship on the employer
What Is the Direct Threat Exception?
In order to be a qualified individual for a job, an individual must not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others or him/herself. The direct threat is based on the individual’s present circumstances and the threat cannot be eliminated through a reasonable accommodation. The risk must be significant and based on objective evidence. The nature and severity of the risk, the likelihood of occurrence and the imminence of the threat are all relevant factors.
The Direct Threat exception is most often seen with infectious disease, such as HIV, in the medical field.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have been fired for having a disability or for requesting an accommodation, or if your employer has not made an accommodation for you in a reasonable length of time, you may be a victim of employment discrimination. You should speak with an employment lawyer with experience in disability law to discuss your rights and options.
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Last Modified: 10-28-2014 04:15 PM PDT
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