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Disability Discrimination/Accommodation Claims

The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") prohibits discrimination based on disability and also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and job applicants with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.  Under the ADA, an individual has a disability if:

  • He or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (i.e. caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, and working);

  • He or she has a record of such an impairment; or

  • He or she is regarded as having such an impairment.

Although there is no comprehensive list of specific conditions that are considered impairments, examples of impairments include muscular dystrophy, visual impairments, heart disease, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, drug addiction, HIV, specific learning disabilities, diabetes, complications from pregnancy, and certain mental disorders.  An individual with a minor, nonchronic condition of short duration, such as a sprain, broken limb, or the flu would typically not be covered under the ADA.

Other individuals who are protected in certain circumstances include those, such as parents, who have an association with an individual known to have a disability, and those who are coerced or subjected to retaliation for assisting people with disabilities in asserting their rights under the ADA.

The ADA requires a covered employer to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, unless doing so would cause undue hardship.  In general, an accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.  There are a variety of possible reasonable accommodations that an employer may provide including: providing qualified readers or interpreters, reassignment to a vacant position, part-time or modified work schedules, job restructuring, acquiring or modifying equipment, making existing facilities accessible, providing additional breaks, and changing tests, training materials, or policies.


An employer does not have to provide an accommodation that causes it undue hardship.  Undue hardship means significant difficulty or expense and focuses on the resources and circumstances of the particular employer in relationship to the cost or difficulty of providing a specific accommodation.  An employer must analyze on a case-by-case basis whether a particular reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardship.  Once an employee or applicant requests an accommodation, the employer and individual with a disability need to engage in an interactive process during which they work together to find a reasonable accommodation.


There are a variety of claims an applicant or employee can bring under the ADA including:


  • A claim that the employer failed to provide the employee or applicant with a reasonable accommodation;

  • A claim that the employee or applicant was subjected to a hostile work environment;

  • A claim that the employee or applicant experienced discrimination based on his or her disability in hiring, promotion, pay, termination or other terms and conditions of employment.

  • A claim that the employer retaliated against the employee or applicant for requesting a reasonable accommodation or for reporting workplace disability discrimination.

The ADA is often challenging for employees, applicants, and employers to navigate, especially when it comes to providing a reasonable accommodation.  The Lee Law Firm has extensive experience providing advice and litigating claims under the ADA.  If you are an employee, applicant, or employer in need of an attorney, please contact us for a free attorney consultation.  

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