Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Attorneys
Our Disability Discrimination Lawyers are available to explain the complex Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and to see if you have a case of disability discrimination or retaliation. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating and retaliating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations.
What do I have to prove to bring a claim for Disability Discrimination?
The ADA prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s disability. To succeed on a claim for disability discrimination, an employee must prove that (1) he is an individual with a disability, (2) he is otherwise qualified for his job with or without a reasonable accommodation; and (3) he suffered an adverse employment action because of his disability. Each of these required elements is explained in greater detail below.
What kind of disabilities are recognized under the ADA?
An employee is disabled under the ADA if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks like reaching, bending, and lifting, sitting, standing, walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, reading, learning, concentrating, communicating, and working, among others.
If an employee’s ability to perform any of the above activities is substantially limited when compared to the general population, then he or she is disabled under the ADA. While an impairment need not totally prevent the employee from performing the activity to meet this standard, not all impairments will qualify.
However, an employee may also be “regarded as” disabled by his or her employer, perceived to be disabled by his or her employer, or have a record of disability. An employer is still not permitted to discriminate against an employee because it regarded the employee as disabled, perceived the employee to be disabled, or was aware of an employee’s record of being disabled (even if not currently disabled).
How do courts determine whether I am qualified for my job?
Employees are qualified for their job if they can perform the essential functions of their job with or without a reasonable accommodation. A job function is considered essential if (1) the position was created to perform the function; (2) the employer has a limited number of employees available to perform the function; and/or (3) the function is highly specialized, and the employee is hired because of his or her expertise and ability to perform the function.
Challenges to an employee’s job qualifications fall into one of three categories. In the first category, the employee alleges he is able to perform all the essential functions of his job, and he does not need any accommodations to do so. In the second category, the employee alleges he can perform the essential functions of his job if he is given a reasonable accommodation. In the third category, the employee admits he is unable to perform a certain job function due to his disability, but he alleges the function is not essential to his job. Regardless of which category your situation falls under, this is a very fact-specific analysis that evaluates all the day-to-day physical and mental requirements of your job.
What is an “adverse employment action” under the ADA?
An adverse employment action is a significant change in employment status. This requirement is met if an employee is terminated, and it can also be met through a failure to hire or promote, demotion, decrease in pay, or loss of benefits. However, the adverse employment action must significantly alter the employee’s status, so minor inconveniences don’t count as adverse employment actions.