The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects Americans who have qualified disabilities from several types of discrimination. The U.S. federal government enacted the ADA in 1990 in an attempt to provide disabled Americans with the right to live and work without facing discrimination based on their disabilities. The law prevents government entities, schools, and businesses that are open to the public from discriminating against people based on their disability. Unfortunately, some employers continue to discriminate against employees with disabilities.
The attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP have helped many clients file successful disability discrimination claims against their employers. Our New York City employment law attorneys understand the unique challenges that disabled Americans face. That’s why we fight hard to enforce our clients’ right to work and engage in public life without facing discrimination based on their disability. If your employer or a potential employer discriminated against you based on your disability, you might have a claim against your employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Contact our New York City law firm to schedule your initial appointment today.
What Is a Qualifying Disability Under the ADA?
Employees with qualifying disabilities receive protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, however, employees don’t need to have a disability to receive protection under the law. The ADA also covers employees who have a history of a qualifying disability. Further, an employer may not discriminate against an employee based on a perceived mental or physical disability that the employee doesn’t actually have.
To qualify for protection under the Act, an employee must have a physical or mental disability that substantially limits a major life activity, such as:
- Performing manual tasks
- Caring for oneself
Are All Disabled Employees Entitled to Protection Under the ADA?
No, receiving a diagnosis does not automatically qualify an employee for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If an employee’s cerebral palsy substantially limits his ability to walk, that employee has a disability that qualifies him for protection under the ADA. If an employee’s diabetes diagnosis does not substantially limit him from engaging in major life activity, the employee does not have a qualifying disability under the ADA.
Have you been diagnosed with a disability? If so, the skilled employment law attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP can help you determine whether you’re entitled to protection under the ADA and help you understand your rights in the workplace.
Which Employers Must Abide By the ADA?
Title I of the ADA prohibits privately-owned companies along with state and local governments from discriminating against employees based on disability. The law applies to:
- A business that employs 15 or more full-time employees every working day for at least 20 calendar weeks yearly, and
- A company that is engaged in an industry that affects commerce
Thus, if your employer has 15 or more employees and is open most of the year, it must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 501 of the federal Rehabilitation Act applies the ADA’s nondiscrimination standards to federal sector employees. Labor organizations and employment agencies are also subject to the ADA.
How Does the ADA Protect Disabled New York City Employees?
Employers must make reasonable accommodations to employees and applicants with known, qualifying disabilities. Reasonable accommodations include the following:
- Modifying or acquiring equipment or devices
- Modifying or adjusting employment examinations
- Modifying or changing training materials or policies
- Providing interpreters or qualified readers
- Restructuring job requirements
- Modifying employee work schedules
- Reassigning the disabled employee to a vacant position
- Making existing employment facilities used by employees useable and readily accessible to people with disabilities
What Is the ADA Undue Hardship Exception?
The Americans with Disabilities Act does not mandate that businesses make accommodations that would impose an “undue hardship.” The ADA describes undue hardship as an action that would require a significant expense or difficulty. The size, financial resources, nature, and structure of the business factor into whether an accommodation is an undue hardship. It is challenging for employers to prove that making an accommodation imposes an undue hardship. In most cases, an employer can find a creative solution to accommodate an employee with a disability.
What Employer Practices Are Governed By The ADA?
Employers cannot discriminate against employees or potential employees during any of the following employment practices:
- Job termination
- Job training
- Job assignments
- Determining pay
- Offering a promotion
- Assigning benefits
- Deciding whether to lay off an employee
- Any other employment-related activities
Requesting Reasonable Accommodations Under the ADA
As an employee, you may request a reasonable disability accommodation in writing or verbally in a face-to-face conversation with your employer. It is wise to make an accommodation in writing for your records in case a dispute arises as to whether you requested an accommodation. As an employee, you do not need to state that you’re requesting an accommodation explicitly, however, you do need to make it known that your mental or physical disability is the reason you are seeking accommodation. Unfortunately, employers sometimes retaliate against employees or job applicants who request reasonable accommodations under the ADA.
Contact Lipsky Lowe LLP If You Believe You’ve Been Discriminated Against
Are you unsure as to the best way to request a reasonable accommodation? Has your employer refused to make reasonable accommodations? Did your employer retaliate against you in response to your request for reasonable accommodations? If so, the skilled employment attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP can help.
We’ve successfully advocated on behalf of many clients with disabilities. Our attorneys are familiar with all of the provisions and requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA gives qualified employees a limited amount of time to file their discrimination claims. Depending on the type of employer, you may have as few as 180 calendar days to file a claim. We fight vigorously for the rights of our clients. To schedule your free initial consultation, contact our New York City law firm today.