PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS IN THE WORKPLACE
Discrimination Against Disabled Individuals
Columbus Employment Law Attorneys
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was enacted by Congress in an attempt to ensure disabled individuals are not discriminated against due to a disability. While the ADA is a large and complex statute, numerous basic definitions simplify what requirements are necessary to secure coverage under the Act.
At Mowery Youell & Galeano, our attorneys have extensive experience in representing and counseling clients in regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Contact one of our disability attorneys today to learn how we can help you.
Who does the Americans with Disabilities Act protect?
To be eligible for coverage under the ADA, a person must be a “qualified individual with a disability.” An individual has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Moreover, the ADA covers individuals who have a history of or currently possess a substantial impairment. A substantial impairment significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as speaking, seeing, breathing, hearing, walking, caring for oneself, or performing manual tasks.
To be a “qualified individual”, the person attempting to seek coverage under the ADA must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. As a result, an existing employee or applicant for employment must 1) satisfy job requirements including, but not limited to, education, certificates, employment experience, skills, licenses, training and all other qualification standards that are related to the specific job in question AND 2) be able to perform all responsibilities that are essential to the job with or without reasonable accommodation.
Concerning job applicants attempting to utilize the ADA, the statute does not interfere with employers to hire and employ the best qualified applicants for employment positions available. Thus, an individual must be CAPABLE and QUALIFIED to obtain protection under the ADA for a claim of disability discrimination. Further, a potential employer must make reasonable accommodations for an individual’s disability if they have knowledge of its existence. It is illegal for an employer to conduct preemployment medical examinations and make inquires into the nature and severity of an applicant’s disability. However, this does not prohibit drug testing.
Recently, new legislation has been signed into law by President Obama that extends the statute of limitations for bringing legal action against employers who engage in discriminatory practices involving persons with disabilities. The definition of what constitutes a disability has also been expanded.
What types of employment practices does the ADA cover?
If a person is a “qualified individual with a disability” under the ADA, the statute makes it unlawful to discriminate in virtually all employment practices. These include, but are not limited to:
- Application Procedures
- Job Assignments
- Leave time
- Medical Examinations
Moreover, the Act protects an employee who asserts his or her rights under the ADA from retaliation from an employer. The ADA also disallows discrimination against any person because of their business, family, or social relationship with an individual with a disability.
What types of businesses does the ADA cover?
The ADA applies to all employers (including private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations, and labor-management committees) with 15 or more employees. This portion of the ADA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, an additional part of the ADA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice. This portion of the statute makes it unlawful to discriminate in state and local government programs and activities regardless of the number of employees the government possesses. Moreover, employers (government or private) maybe covered under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and state law.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
As stated before, to be successfully covered under the ADA, a person must be a “qualified person with a disability” who can perform the essential functions of his or her job (or job applying for) with or without reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to making the workplace accessible to individuals with disabilities, enacting part-time or modified work schedules, modifying equipment, the use of interpreters or readers, reassignment to a vacant position, and job restructuring.
Must an employer always provide a reasonable accommodation?
NO. An employer is only required to make a reasonable accommodation if THEY ARE REASONABLE and DO NOT impose an undue hardship on the employer’s resources. However, if you are a disabled individual and can perform the tasks of your job with or without reasonable accommodations, you are entitled to protection under the ADA. Factors to be considered to determine if a business possesses an undue hardship are the cost of the accommodation, the employer’s size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation.
What is Ohio Revised Code 4112.02 and how does it apply to disability discrimination?
Ohio Revised Code 4112.02 is Ohio’s law prohibiting disability discrimination. Unlike the Americans with Disabilities Act which is only applicable if the employer involved employs fifteen (15) or more people, 4112.02 applies to discriminatory practices by businesses which employ four (4) or more employees. Like the ADA, 4112.02 provides similar protections for employees and applicants.
Please note that this discussion of the Americans with Disabilities Act is extremely general and not intended to educate one fully to this legal subject. It can not. The intent of this discussion is to provide some general information to Ohio employees regarding some of their legal protections.
Please note that e-mail sent on an employer’s computer system will probably be considered property of the employer and maybe read or printed by the employer with or without your permission and could be the subject of discipline.
For more information, contact an attorney at Mowery Youell & Galeano. From our office in Dublin, we represent clients throughout the Columbus metro area and central Ohio.