Disability Discrimination

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability.  The ADA also requires that employers accommodate individuals with disabilities.  If an employer fails to sufficiently interact with disabled employees or refuses to provide an accommodation or a reasonable alternative accommodation, the individual may file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or appropriate state agency.  In light of amendments to the ADA, establishing that a person is disabled is less of an intensive inquiry than previously.   An employee is deemed to be disabled where the employee has, or is regarded to have, an impairment – whether physical or mental – which substantially interferes with the employee’s major life activities.   If an employee is disabled, an employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation or – at a minimum – engage in the interactive process to determine whether a reasonable accommodation is feasible.  An employer may defend against providing a reasonable accommodation on the basis that it gives rise to an “undue hardship.”  Employers should, however, be careful to analyze, among other things, the job description and the essential functions before reaching this conclusion.  Disability claims can be complex and hiring an attorney to represent your rights, as an employee or employer, in relation to disability claims can help protect your interests.