Disability Discrimination – Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorneys

When facing a disability issue against your employer, the disability discrimination attorneys at Bryant Legal, LLC can level the playing field and guide you through this complex process. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any aspect of your employment because of your disability, you need to take action and contact an attorney at Bryant Legal, LLC immediately.  A non-exhaustive in-depth overview of disability discrimination is below.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), codified as 42 U.S.C. 12101, et seq., is a federal law that prohibits a covered entity (e.g. private employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor ­management committee) from discriminating against a qualified individual (applicant, employee, former employee, or applicant/participant in a training or apprenticeship program) because of his or her disability in any aspect of employment, including job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.  Your employer is also prohibited from disclosing confidential medical information. Ohio’s laws against disability discrimination mirror those of the ADA.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing Title I’s prohibition against discrimination of individuals with disabilities in employment when employers have 15 or more employees.  You must file a charge within 180 days of the employer’s discrimination or within 300 days in Ohio because it has its own state enforcement agency. In Ohio, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) is responsible for enforcing Ohio’s prohibition against discrimination under Ohio Revised Code section 4112 against people with disabilities in employment when employers have 4 or more employees.  You must file a charge within 6 months of the employer’s discrimination.

Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered by the ADA treats a qualified individual with a disability differently (i.e. less favorably) because he or she has a disability.  The qualified individual may be an employee or an applicant.  The ADA defines “disability” in three ways, below:

  1.  a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;
  2. a record of such an impairment; or
  3.  being regarded as (perceived as) having such an impairment
    • must be subjected to discrimination because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.  Note that impairments that are transitory or minor (6 months or less in duration) normally do not qualify as a disability under the ADA.

Regarding the first category as to what constitutes a “disability” (physical or mental impairment), the ADA and federal regulations intend that the definition of a physical or mental impairment be broad and all-encompassing.  A list of physical and mental impairments can be found under 29. C.F.R. 1630.2(g).  Some types of a physical impairment, which affect one or more body systems (e.g. neurological, special sense organs, respiratory, reproductive, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, digestive, immune, skin, etc.) include:

  • physiological disorder or condition,
  • cosmetic disfigurement, or
  • anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems

Types of mental impairments include any mental or psychological disorder, such as an intellectual disability, emotional or mental illness, organic brain syndrome, or speech-learning disabilities.

Once it is determined that you have a physical or mental impairment constituting a disability, that physical or mental impairment must affect a major life activity, which is a very low standard to meet.  In general, a non-exhaustive list, includes, but is not limited to:

  • (i) caring for oneself, (ii) performing manual tasks, (iii) seeing, (iv) hearing, (v) eating, (vi) sleeping, (vii) walking, (viii) standing, (ix) sitting, (x) reaching, (xi) lifting, (xii) bending, (xiii) speaking, (xiv) breathing, (xv) learning, (xvi) reading, (xvii) concentrating, (xviii) thinking, (xix) communicating, (xx) interacting with others, and (xxi) working.

Once it is determined that you have a disability that substantially limits a major life activity, you must request a reasonable accommodation to your supervisor or HR department.  It is important to note that you must still be able to perform the essential functions of your job, but your employer cannot unilaterally determine that you are unable to perform your job.  Once the request for a reasonable accommodation is reported, either verbally or in writing, the employer has a duty to engage in the interactive process to determine what, if anything, it can do to accommodate you.  Some examples of reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Job Restructuring
  • Additional Medical Leave (even if beyond amount permitted under the Family and Medical Leave Act)
  • Reassignment to a Vacant Position and Light Duty
  • Modified Work Schedules and Flexible Leave Policies
  • Modification or Purchase of Equipment and Devices
  • Training
  • Modification of Policies
  • Provision of Readers, Communication Access Providers, or Personal Assistants

The ADA protects all applicants or employees, whether or not they are individuals with a disability, from retaliation for protected activity, interference with the exercise of rights under the ADA, disability-related inquiries and medical examinations that are not job-related and consistent with business necessity, and improper disclosure of confidential medical information.

If you believe you have been discriminated against, retaliated against, or endured a hostile work environment because of your disability, actual or perceived, please contact an Ohio disability discrimination attorney at Bryant Legal, LLC immediately to discuss your legal issue.

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