The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) protects employees from discrimination on the basis of disability. But the ADA is notoriously complicated. To prove disability discrimination is much harder than it sounds. To determine if you have a discrimination claim, you should speak with a Cleveland ADA lawyer at Bolek Besser Glesius.

At the start, proving disability discrimination first requires the employee to prove they meet the technical legal definition of a “disability.” In most cases, that entails the employee showing he or she has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual.” Each of those terms is defined by the ADA and by case law. And sometimes what seems like an obvious disability won’t meet the legal definition.

It is important to note that the ADA definition of disability isn’t limited to people who have an actual disability. It also protects employees who don’t have a disability but whose employers believe they do. This is known as a “regarded as” disability discrimination claim. The ADA also protects employees who no longer have an actual disability but did in the past—known as having a “record of” a disability. A good example would be an employee who previously had cancer and is in remission. Lastly, the ADA prohibits discrimination against employees who don’t have a disability but who are “associated” with someone who does, for instance a spouse or child.

What does disability discrimination look like?

Next the employee must prove that the employer discriminated against them because of their protected status. Discrimination under the ADA can take different forms. Firing an employee because of a disability is the most blatant example. Refusing to hire an employee because of an actual or perceived disability is another. Employers might also violate the ADA by refusing to promote employees because of a disability or by making impermissible requests for the employee’s medical information. There is one other critical ADA protection employees need to know about.

Under the ADA and Ohio law, employers must generally make “reasonable accommodations” of an employee’s known disability if doing so would allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. A reasonable accommodation is some change to the employee’s job duties, or to other workplace policies or procedures, that would allow the employee to perform the main job functions.

Common examples of reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible, job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, acquiring or modifying equipment, reassignment to a vacant position, and possibly medical leave. This is not an exhaustive list. Ordinarily, employers must make reasonable accommodations when the employee asks for them unless doing so would be an “undue hardship” on the employer.

ADA lawyer for Ohio employees

As we said, the disability discrimination laws are complicated. But when you’ve been discriminated against because of a disability your rights are too important to leave to chance. Talk to an ADA lawyer at Bolek Besser Glesius and protect yourself.