In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to prevent workplace discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The ADA also covers other activities of daily life, such as access to government programs, goods, and services. However, the first section of the ADA (Title I) deals exclusively with employers’ obligation to accommodate each worker’s disability.
This brings up some obvious questions:
- What qualifies as a disability?
- How do I know if my employer is required to comply?
These are questions I will answer in today’s blog.
All qualified workers or potential employees are legally entitled to equal opportunities under the law. That means if you can do the job at hand, your disability in other areas cannot be a factor in your hiring or ongoing employment opportunities. If you’re wondering if you qualify for disability accommodations, know this: all the ADA requires is that you are an otherwise qualified employee who has a disability. That’s it.
The Legal Definition of “Disability”
The ADA defines a disability as any physical or mental impairment that limits a person’s capability in one or more major life areas. Having a record of such a disability in the past also qualifies for protection under the ADA (to prevent employers from hiring people who have been severely injured in the past).
In addition to severe physical impairment (e.g. paraplegia), the ADA also covers less-obvious disabilities, including non-visible physical impairment and mental disabilities. While situations are decided on a case-by-case basis, there are certain impairments that often result in a disability determination.
These “open-and-shut” type impairments include:
- Limited brain function
- Mobility impairment
- Missing limbs
- Cerebral palsy
- Post-traumatic stress
- Bipolar disorder
Employers Who Are Obligated to Comply
The ADA applies to nearly all kinds of employers. To be required to comply—known as being “covered”—private sector employees need to employ 15 or more workers for 20 or more weeks out of the year. This includes temporary workers or employers received from a staffing firm. For any state or local government organizations, there is no baseline requirement—all government employees are protected by the ADA, no matter the organization size.
If you feel that your rights have been violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act, call a Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer. I offer results-focused representation and free consultations.
Contact the firm of Alan Burton Newman, PLC today for a free consultation.