Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, it is unlawful for an employer to intentionally discriminate against a qualified person with a disability because of that person’s disability, if the person is otherwise qualified to do the job. Employer discrimination can take several forms: a company may refuse to hire or fail to promote a person with a disability, it may refuse or fail to make a reasonable accommodation for the employee’s disability, or it may terminate or lay off someone who is or becomes disabled.
What exactly constitutes a disability under the ADA—which includes both mental and physical impairments–is not as straightforward as one might expect. A covered disability must be enough to limit substantially a major life activity but not so much as to make the employee “unqualified” for the position. If an employee fits through this window and is deemed disabled under the ADA, then the Act requires the employer to make a “reasonable accommodation” of the person’s disability. To add to the complication, an employee also may show that she is disabled if the employer regards her as being disabled, which can include acting on the basis of a physical or mental impairment regardless of whether or not the impairment is substantially limiting. When an employer terminates a person with a disability, or refuses to take any steps to accommodate him or her, then attorneys can step in to try to resolve this dispute.
Our firm has significant experience with disability discrimination claims, generally in the workplace but occasionally in other settings.