How Am I Protected by the ADA

Aug 01, 2017
By Peter Friedmann

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) protects people from discrimination in employment and ensures access to government services, public transportation, public accommodations like stores and hotels, and telecommunications. The Columbus, Ohio, disability discrimination attorneys with the Friedmann Firm focus on helping disabled workers enforce and enjoy their legal rights under the ADA.


Companies, religious organizations, and employee placement services that have more than 15 people on staff must comply with ADA rules. Federal, state, and local government agencies of all sizes must follow the ADA. Employers who violate workers’ ADA rights can be sued for monetary damages that include lost wages, punitive damages, and noneconomic damages like emotional suffering. Getting one’s job back may also be part of an award for a plaintiff in an ADA lawsuit.


Working with an experienced Columbus disability discrimination attorney to file an official ADA charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is the primary step to protecting one’s legal remedies. Working with an experienced discrimination attorney may be essential to a positive outcome, because an incomplete complaint may be rejected before anyone even investigates the case. Additionally, there may be other legal remedies available for the disabled employee, which can be waived if not raised at the appropriate time.


Who Qualifies for ADA Employment Protections?


The ADA defines a disabled person as someone who


  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (g., hearing, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, concentrating, communicating), or
  • Has a history or record of such an impairment, or
  • Is perceived by others as having such an impairment.


Qualifying for ADA employment protections requires meeting one or more of the definitions of being disabled and being able to perform the job one currently holds or is applying to get. The individual may need reasonable accommodations to complete the tasks related to the job, but needing an accommodation is not part of the definition of being, or being considered, disabled.


How Does the ADA Protect Employment for Disabled People?


The ADA guarantees equality in “the full range of employment-related opportunities” to people with any form of disability. This extends to:


  • Recruitment
  • Hiring
  • Promotions
  • Training
  • Pay
  • Social activities
  • Privileges and benefits such as leave and use of company resources, equipment, and properties


Employees who experience harassment, bullying, or other forms of mental, emotional, and physical mistreatment because of their disabled status have protections under related laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


What Must an Employer Do Under the ADA?


Companies and agencies cannot automatically disqualify a job applicant or fire a current employee simply because a disability is disclosed or becomes apparent. In fact, the ADA specifically bars hiring managers from asking detailed questions about disabilities during the application and interview process.


When a qualified individual needs or requests an accommodation to do his or her job, the employer must consider providing that accommodation. A standard of reasonableness is applied. For instance, permitting a person with mild cognitive impairment to take extra time to count out money in a till is almost always considered reasonable. Completely redoing a factory floorplan to make space for special assistive equipment may not be deemed reasonable.


Determining what is reasonable involves looking at monetary costs, the productivity of the employee with and without the accommodation, the impacts on co-workers and clients, and the actual existence of a technology or workflow design that accommodates the disability. Consulting with a disability discrimination attorney after being denied an accommodation usually makes sense. The lawyer will be able to apply findings from previous ADA lawsuits to gauge the chances of succeeding with a complaint, or even help negotiate an appropriate resolution with the employer.


The Columbus-based disability discrimination attorneys with the Friedmann Firm offer more information about reasonable ADA accommodations here. If you have additional questions, do not hesitate to request a free, confidential consultation by calling 614.610.9755. You can also schedule an appointment online.