The ADA and Its Protections for Disabled Workers in New York

The ADA and Its Protections for Disabled Workers in New York

New York Disability Discrimination Lawyers Know What the ADA Requires

Attorneys who focus their practice on disability discrimination, like those at Leeds Brown, help people in the New York City metropolitan region, navigate the complex nature of workplace discrimination claims. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) are federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Disabled people file tens of thousands of employment discrimination claims each year. The purpose of the ADAAA was to expand the definition of disability and reinforce the broad scope of the ADA’s coverage to allow more people to file claims.

The ADA contains both prohibitions and requirements. It prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodation for said employees unless doing so would cause the business undue hardship.

The ADA and its amendments apply to employers with 15 or more employees. New York has corresponding state anti-discrimination provisions which you can find in New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). NYSHRL applies to employers with 4 or more employees and differs slightly from federal law, protecting more disabled individuals than the ADA does.

Have you missed out on a job opportunity because of your disability? Has your employer fired you because you are unable to do your job without accommodations? Filing a successful claim of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR), or in a court of law, requires expertise and precision. At Leeds Brown, we understand the evidentiary and investigatory demands of an ADA claim and can help you to navigate the complicated process.

We know that when it comes to claims based on workplace disability discrimination, the ADA contains language that leaves room for the interpretation. For example, what does it mean to be disabled or qualified? What accommodation is reasonable?

Attorneys at the firm of Leeds Brown have spent decades advocating for clients with disabilities and fighting for their rights to secure equal workplace opportunities. This experience means that with Leeds Brown, you receive representation from passionate professionals who understand the ADA and can successfully protect your rights and obtain the fair outcome to which you are entitled.

How Does the ADA Define a Disability?

Historically, one of the most common issues to arise in ADA claims is whether or not an individual has a disability. There is no comprehensive list of what is or is not a disability, but the ADAAA was created to make it easier for anyone with a disability to fall under the protection of the law. The ADAAA and final regulations define a person with a disability as one who has;

  • a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity or
  • a record of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limited a major life activity

Impairments Include Physical and Psychological Disorders

According to the statute, EEOC guidelines, and regulations, an impairment includes any “physiological disorder, or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss” affecting one or more of the following bodily functions:

  • digestive
  • reproductive
  • special sense organs
  • respiratory
  • cardiovascular
  • musculoskeletal
  • speech organs
  • neurological
  • genitourinary
  • lymphatic
  • hemic
  • skin
  • endocrine
  • immune system
  • circulatory system

Impairment also includes any mental or psychological disorder, such as;

  • emotional or mental illness
  • organic brain syndrome
  • mental retardation (presently referred to as intellectual disability)
  • learning disabilities

Major Life Functions Under the ADA and ADAA

Under discrimination regulations, disability or impairment must substantially limit one or more major life functions. Major life functions include;

  • lifting
  • bending
  • caring for oneself
  • eating
  • speaking
  • performing manual tasks
  • seeing
  • hearing
  • interacting with others
  • breathing
  • learning
  • reading
  • concentrating
  • thinking
  • sleeping
  • walking
  • standing
  • sitting
  • reaching
  • communicating
  • working

The operation of the main bodily functions including the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, genitourinary, special sense organs, neurological, brain, respiratory, skin musculoskeletal, and reproductive functions. Final EEOC regulations also state that major bodily functions include the operation of an individual organ within a body system.

When Does an Impairment Substantially Limit a Life Activity?

According to the EEOC, to substantially limit a life activity, a disability need not prevent or significantly limit a life activity.

In keeping with congressional purpose, the EEOC explains that since the ADAAA, the focus of workplace disability discrimination claims should be whether or not there was discrimination. The nature and depth of any limitation should be less critical, as should whether or not the individual has a disability. The ADAA makes it easier to establish the existence of a disability and concentrate on the real issue of discrimination.

EEOC Issues ADA and ADAAA Guidance for Lawyers who File Disability Discrimination Claims

The EEOC has tried to provide as much guidance as possible to disabled employees who face workplace discrimination and the legal counsel they hire. The ADA and ADAAA are in place to make it easier for disabled workers to prove their cases and receive reasonable accommodations they need.

There is still no comprehensive list of all of the disabilities that fall under the protection of the ADA. Questions continue to arise regarding pregnancy, illegal drug use, and episodic impairments, among other conditions. But the EEOC has put together a list of impairments that under proper analysis, will virtually always fall within the definition of disability. Impairments that do not appear on the list may certainly in any particular case, also qualify as a disability.

  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Intellectual disability
  • Partial or fully missing limbs or mobility impairment requiring wheelchair
  • Cancer
  • Autism
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Bi-Polar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

New York Employees Contact Workplace Discrimination Attorneys to File ADA Claims

If you have a disability and have experienced employment discrimination of any kind, it is important that you have Leeds Brown review your case. Our team of lawyers are adept at handling discrimination claims based on disability and can help you navigate the rules and regulations set forth by the ADA, the ADAAA and the EEOC, ensuring that your claim is presented in the very best light. Protect your right to receive equal treatment in the workplace and equal access to employment opportunities by reaching out to find out if you have a discrimination claim based on a physical or mental impairment.

Leeds Brown takes a hands-on, team-based approach to all cases which means you receive personal and professional representation. You don’t have to face disability discrimination alone. Call Leeds Brown 24/7 at 1-800-585-4658 for a free case evaluation and find out if you are entitled to monetary compensation, reasonable accommodation or other remedies.

Free Consultation


Shortly after beginning medical school, I experienced some academic difficulties. After seeing my physicians, I was diagnosed with ADHD. After I started receiving specific treatment for ADHD, I requested the school to accommodate me for the disability as recommended by my physician. One of the requests made was for extended time to take my exams. The extension of time was granted...

~Kenneth Broodo, Esq.

Partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP
I hired Lenard Leeds, Esq. to assist me with my wrongful termination. I was let go of my position because of my age. I was not only told to take a decrease in pay but also required to work fewer hours to do the same job. Additionally, they kept asking me “When are you going to retire?” I visited the...


I want to thank you again for assisting me in overseeing my issues with my employer. This is the second time I have used Lenard Leeds, Esq. to fight for me. This time I was a National Sales Manager of a drug company, where acts of discrimination based on my age, national origin and retaliation took place. Mr. Leeds and...

~Law Professor

Discrimination Case

$19 Million

Settlement Secured in a National Origin
View More

Request Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below to receive a free consultation, we will respond to
your inquiry within 24-hours guaranteed.


One Old Country Road, Suite 347 Carle Place, NY 11514


get directions


101 Greenwich Street, 22nd Floor New York, NY 10006


get directions
Call Now!