Employment rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly known as the ADA, is a powerful law that protects all United States workers from being discriminated against because of their disability.

The ADA covers many areas of life — and protects Americans from various forms of discrimination in the workspace, public space and other matters. Let’s take a closer look at the ADA from the standpoint of an employee with a disability.

How does the ADA define a “disability?”

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects all disabled workers from on-the-job discrimination, but what does “disability” mean in this context? The ADA defines a “person with a disability” to be someone who has or is believed to have a mental or physical impairment that limits him or her in the performance of a “major life activity.” These activities might include talking, walking, learning, seeing and other common activities. Persons who the ADA considers to be “disabled” might be blind, deaf, confined to a wheelchair, suffer from mental illness or have a learning disability.

By virtue of the ADA, employers with 15-plus employees cannot discriminate against disabled persons during promotions, hiring, training, firing and other aspects of employment. The ADA also requires that employers offer reasonable accommodation to disabled employees to assist them in performing their jobs without undue hardship.

What if I have a disability and my employer is discriminating against me?

Employees with disabilities can protect their civil rights under the ADA by filing a claim through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Most employees who pursue EEOC discrimination claims do so under the representation of a qualified employment law attorney. Employees who have been discriminated against can pursue financial compensation, reinstatement into their former jobs and accommodations where appropriate.

As a final note, it’s important for discrimination victims to act as soon as possible because all such claims will be subject to statutes of limitation. What this means is that if you don’t file your claim within a certain period of time, you could be forever barred from doing so.

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