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THE EMPLOYMENT LAW GROUP®

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Do You Need a Disability Discrimination Lawyer?

Do You Need a Disability Discrimination Lawyer?
  • Do you face wrongful termination because of your disability?

  • Is your boss refusing to make a few simple changes that would make your disability a non-issue?
  • Have you been shunted into a dead-end position since you became disabled?

Federal and state laws forbid discrimination against employees based on their disabilities — or their perceived disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act both offer protection to employees with an impairment that substantially limits a "major life activity" such as walking, sitting, standing, or hearing. If you can perform the essential functions of your job, even if it requires some "reasonable" accommodation to do so, you're protected under federal law.

What's a reasonable accommodation? Certainly the term includes classic measures such as wheelchair ramps — but it also might mean a modified work schedule, some specialized training, or a change in duties. Unless such tweaks would impose "undue hardship" on your employer, you're entitled to any adjustments that will help you to work effectively.

If you've been wrongfully fired because you sought a workplace accommodation, federal law may help to restore your career and reputation.

Learn More

Important statutes in this area of law:

Notable TELG cases in this area of law:

  • Summers v. Altarum Institute Corp.

    The Fourth Circuit, the highest court to decide the issue, held that sufficiently severe temporary disabilities may constitute a disability under the ADAAA.

The Employment Law Group® law firm has a track record of representing employees who have faced bias because of their disabilities. Most recently, our firm successfully argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that the ADA forbids discrimination against employees with short-term injuries that are “sufficiently severe” to limit a major life activity. Our attorneys are based in Washington, D.C., but we take cases nationwide.

If you have suffered illegal discrimination under the ADA, you may be entitled recover back pay, compensatory damages, and attorney fees. In addition, punitive damages are available if an employee can show that the employer engaged in a discriminatory practice with malice or reckless indifference to the employee’s federally protected rights.

As with all legal claims, deadlines are crucial. Employees generally must file a charge of discrimination within the 180 days following an adverse employment action. Federal employees suffering discrimination must file even more quickly — often within a matter of weeks.

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ADA Accommodation Requirements

The ADA requires an employer to make such reasonable accommodations for disabled employees unless doing so would impose an undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations might include:

  • Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;
  • Restructuring jobs;
  • Modifying work schedules;
  • Adjusting or modifying equipment, examinations or training material; or
  • Providing qualified readers or interpreters.

What’s the ADAAA?

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”) strengthened the ADA and eliminated loopholes created by various court decisions. In particular, the ADAAA:

  • Expanded the phrase “major life activity” to include major bodily functions such as functions of the nervous, urinary and circulatory systems;
  • Clarified that an employee asserting that she was discriminated against because she was “regarded as” disabled need only prove that she was discriminated against because of an actual or perceived impairment;
  • Removed the effects of mitigating measures in determining whether an individual has a disability; and
  • Clarified that an impairment that is episodic or in remission is an ADA disability if it limits a major life activity when the impairment is active.

I have a short-term disability. Am I protected from discrimination?

Possibly. Until the ADAAA passed, chances are that you would not have been deemed protected. Under the ADAAA, however, the ADA embraces injuries from which you’ll recover — but that are serious enough to “substantially limit” one or more major life activities.

I could perform much better if my boss were a bit more flexible. Does my employer have a duty to discuss my ideas?

Employers must engage in an “interactive process” to come up with any “reasonable accommodations” that could allow a disabled employee to do his or her job. This doesn’t mean that an employer must give you everything you ask for. Instead, employers and employees must engage in a good-faith dialogue to see if there are any adjustments that would allow you to do your job without imposing an undue hardship on your employer.

I’m pretty sure I’ve faced disability discrimination. What should I do?

You should file a complaint with the appropriate agency. The agency may vary depending on where you work — and deadlines may vary, too. To get a full picture of your rights, consider contacting a disability discrimination attorney.

Learn More

Important statutes in this area of law:

Notable TELG cases in this area of law:

  • Summers v. Altarum Institute Corp.

    The Fourth Circuit, the highest court to decide the issue, held that sufficiently severe temporary disabilities may constitute a disability under the ADAAA.

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