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What Is Disability Law under the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people that have physical or mental disabilities. The law is applicable to situations involving employment practices and business operations. For example, the law requires employers and owners to make any reasonable accommodations needed for disabled individuals to work.
Am I Disabled within the Meaning of the ADA?
An individual is disabled under the ADA if s/he:
- Has, had or is regarded by an employer as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.
- “Regarded by” – there can be an ADA violation if an employer mistakenly believes the employee has a qualifying impairment, or that the employee’s actual, non-limiting impairment substantially limits a major life activity
- “Impairment” – includes any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, anatomical loss, permanent injuries, complications from pregnancy, alcoholism, depression, and drug addiction for which the individual completed or is participating in supervised rehabilitation. Current illegal drug use, temporary injuries, pregnancy (without complications), infertility, homosexuality, transgenderism, transsexualism are not covered by the ADA.
- “Substantially limits” – includes both inability to perform a major life function an average person can perform and a significant restriction on the condition, manner or duration of such performance
- “Major life activity” – functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, etc.
- Is otherwise qualified for the position and can perform the job’s essential functions with or without reasonable accommodation.
- Does not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others in the workplace – Any such threat to others must be based on objective scientific evidence, not personal fears, and must not be able to be eliminated with reasonable accommodations or corrective measures.
Is a Major Life Activity “Substantially Limited” If It Can Be Corrected?
Generally, an impairment that can be corrected by glasses, medication, prosthesis, etc. does not “substantially limit” a major life activity. However, treatments necessary for a non-limiting condition, such as chemotherapy for cancer, may “substantially limit” a major life activity.
Do I Need an Employment Attorney Experienced in Disability Discrimination?
Individuals who feel they have been discriminated against on the basis of their disability should promptly consult an employment attorney. Such an attorney will be able to help you establish whether or not you are disabled under the ADA, as well as help you with federal and state claim filing procedures.
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Last Modified: 09-22-2014 02:39 PM PDT
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