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How do I prove I have a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) protects employees from employment discrimination on the basis of disability. To prove an employee has an actual disability, the employee must show 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 can require a very technical showing.

It is important to note that the ADA also protects employees who do not have an actual disability, but who are mistakenly “regarded as” disabled by their employers. In addition, the ADA protects employees who no longer have an actual disability, but did in the past—known as having a “record of” a disability. Lastly, the ADA prohibits discrimination against employees who themselves do not have a disability, but who are “associated” with someone who does, for instance a spouse or child.