white male in wheelchair

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that provides employment protection rights to individuals suffering from a disability. A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. This includes, but is not limited to, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. In addition to the major life activities, there is a list of bodily functions which includes function of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

To be a “qualified individual” under the ADA you must be able to perform the essential functions of your job with or without reasonable accommodation. What that means is that you have to be able to work. If you are so sick or so disabled that you can’t perform the essential functions your job, your employer is not discriminating against you by terminating your employment. You have to be able to perform your job with or without a reasonable accommodation to be protected by the ADA.

In most disability cases, the employee is able to do the job if the employer grants the employee an accommodation. For example, an accommodation could be modifying equipment like getting a chair of a different height, or moving a computer screen, or modifying the work schedule, or even giving the employee some time off. However, the accommodation must be reasonable. Reasonableness is determined by the circumstances of each case. For example, while accommodation might be available to an employee, if the cost is astronomical or would work a significant hardship on the employer, courts will generally find the accommodation to be unreasonable.

If you suffer from a disability, and need an accommodation at work to help you do your job, it’s important that you tell your employer. Once your employer is on notice that you need an accommodation, the employer is required to engage in an interactive process with you to try to find an accommodation to meet your disability.

This area of the law is very complex and there are numerous additional requirements. The treatment here’s merely to be general information for potential clients. If you have more questions, or need any additional information, please call Beggs Law Offices.