Atlanta Disability Discrimination Attorneys
Title VII does not cover disability discrimination. Accordingly, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to make disability discrimination illegal. The ADA prohibits discrimination against "qualified individuals with a disability" in the terms and conditions of employment. The ADA also prohibits disability harassment and retaliation against you for complaining about disability discrimination or for participating in someone else's disability discrimination case. Learn if you have a valid disability discrimination case by talking to our team of Atlanta disability discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP.
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What Disabilities are Covered by the ADA?
Not all injuries, illnesses or even medically defined disabilities are covered by the ADA. The ADA projects a specific class of individuals—qualified individuals with a disability. A qualified individual with a disability is an individual with any medical, physiological, or psychiatric condition that substantially limits a major life activity.
Temporary conditions or conditions that, although serious, don't substantially limit any of your major life activities are not covered. For example, blindness is a medical condition that substantially limits the major life activity of seeing. Thus, blindness is a covered disability. However, if you have a temporarily disabling condition, such as a bad back or broken leg, you are probably not considered disabled under the ADA. Remember, the definition of a disability under the ADA is a legal one, not a medical one.
Record of Disability & Perceived Disability
The good news is that you don't need to be actually disabled to be protected by the ADA. The ADA also protects against discrimination based on stereotypes and unfounded concerns about an individual's medical condition and medical history. Thus, even if you are not actually disabled, but you have a record or history of a disability, your employer cannot take an adverse action against you. Typically, this involves an employee who has disclosed a history of a serious illness or disability to the employer, but is still able to do the job. The employer may not discriminate against such an individual, even if that individual is no longer disabled.
Additionally, even if you aren't actually disabled, and you don't have a history or record of disability, you may still be protected by the ADA if your employer regards or perceives you as being disabled. In some cases (such as an employee with HIV or AIDS), the employee may have a condition that does not affect him or her (or other employees) in any way, but due to unfounded fears or stereotypes held by the employer, the employer believes that the employee is disabled. If such an employer were to take an adverse action against such an employee based on this perception, this could violate the ADA.
How Does the ADA Protect Disabled Workers?
If you are a qualified individual with a disability, the ADA protects you in several ways:
- First, it requires that your employer make an effort to reasonably accommodate your disability. If, despite your disability, you are able to do your job, either with no accommodation at all, or with a reasonable accommodation, your employer must accommodate you. An accommodation can be something as simple as changing your starting time a few minutes, giving you a telephone amplifier if you're hard of hearing, or changing your workspace if it exacerbates your medical condition. If your employer refuses to accommodate you, in most cases you can file an ADA discrimination charge. Your employer, however, is not required to accommodate you if your requested accommodation would be too expensive or burdensome, or if your medical condition poses a serious risk of harm to you or someone else in your workplace.
- The ADA also prohibits your employer from taking an adverse action against you because you are disabled, because you have a record of a disability, or because it regards you as disabled. The ADA also protects you from discrimination if you are associated with someone who is disabled, such as a close friend or family member.
Whenever you have a disability or serious medical condition, your case may involve many other federal and state laws in addition to the ADA, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, Georgia's Workers' Compensation Act, or your rights under a short or long term disability plan. Such cases can be very tricky, as what you say in one case could affect your rights in another case.