ADA Disability Descrimination

What Qualifies as ADA Disability?

By Thomas McKinney

The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a civil rights law. It protects employees with disabilities against discrimination perpetrated by employers. Title I of the ADA states that employees with disabilities are not to be shortchanged on employment opportunities due to their disability. This means that employees with disabilities should have all job opportunities available unless they are not qualified for the job. Employment opportunities to be made available to all employees, disabled or otherwise, can include hiring, compensation, training, benefits, promotion, and more.

Furthermore, pursuant to the ADA, employers covered by the Act are required to make reasonable accommodations for those employees with qualifying disabilities, whether the disability be physical or mental in nature. Employers may be exempt from this requirement only if it can be shown that a reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardship for the company. The ADA also provides protection against discrimination based on a person’s association with a disabled individual.

What Qualifies as ADA Disability?

Now that we have provided a brief overview of what the ADA protects, it is important to be clear on who the ADA protects. The ADA, after all, is intended to protect Americans with disabilities. What, however, does “disability” mean under the ADA? A good starting point is to understand that the term “disability” in the context of the ADA is a legal one as opposed to a medical one. Someone who may be deemed disabled under a different law or in a different context may not be considered disabled for purposes of the ADA.

The ADA states that a disabled individual is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that places substantial limitations on one or more major life activity. The ADA also includes individuals who have a record of such impairments, whether or not they are currently experiencing such limitations. Additionally, the ADA applies to those individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment whether or not that is actually the case.

The impairment of a person is measured when the condition causing the impairment is at its peak. For purposes of the ADA, whether or not a person is considered disabled as evaluated based on the times when symptoms are at their most severe. In sum, to be considered disabled under the ADA, you must have a physical or mental impairment, and that impairment must be a key contributing factor in preventing you from doing major life activities. A physical impairment is any medical condition that impacts the body and could be neurological, respiratory, or musculoskeletal, among other things, in nature. A mental impairment is considered to be any mental or cognitive disorder and can include a mental illness or intellectual disability as well as some learning disabilities and other types of mental impairments.

New Jersey Employment Law Attorneys

Are you unsure as to whether you are considered disabled for ADA purposes? Have you been discriminated against based on your disability? Has your employer failed to provide you with reasonable accommodations in the workplace? Talk to the trusted employment law team at Castronovo & McKinney about your options. Contact us today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.