Understanding the ADA & Employment Discrimination

Understanding the ADA & Employment Discrimination

New York Lawyers Help Employment Discrimination Victims Understand the ADA

Employees around the New York City metropolitan area, who have disabilities, struggle to secure and maintain jobs for which they are perfectly qualified. While we have made strides toward improving workplace equality, employment discrimination still occurs in all industries, at all levels, in all geographic regions.

CNN reports that there are nearly 57 million disabled people in America. At Leeds Brown, our employment attorneys understand that despite the many laws in place that prohibit employers from making discriminatory decisions, disabled workers are often forced to endure rejection and ridicule. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 only 17.5% of individuals with a disability were employed in sharp contrast to 65% of the non-disabled population. The same year, individuals filed over 25,000 claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). These are some of the reasons our firm takes pride in representing workers who experience discrimination based on disability.

Disability discrimination claims in New York City and elsewhere can be tricky, and it can help to have an employment lawyer working on your behalf to ensure your employer complies with the ADA or that you recover compensation for violations of your rights. Leeds Brown can assist you to obtain a reasonable accommodation when your employer refuses, file a claim on your behalf or represent you in court if that is what it takes to secure the fair outcome to which you are entitled.

The ADA Makes it Unlawful to Discriminate Against a Disabled Employee or Applicant

Under the ADA an employer or prospective employer may not discriminate against a person with a disability. The ADA imposes an affirmative obligation on an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled employee. The ADA does not cover every person in every situation.

To receive protection under the ADA, an individual must meet certain qualifications. The person must

  • Have a disability and
  • Be qualified and able to do the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Discrimination Lawyers Help Determine if you Have a Disability

Under the ADA a person with a disability is someone who has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life function. A major life function may include sitting, seeing, breathing walking and hearing. The ADA was amended in 2008 to make it a bit easier to prove that something is a disability. The law itself does not provide a comprehensive list of what is and what is not a protected disability. However, EEOC regulatory guidelines and guidance documents provide the following list of conditions that are disabilities under the ADA. This list includes:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Intellectual Disabilities
  • Partial or Completely Missing Limbs
  • Mobility Impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair
  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • HIV Infection
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Schizophrenia

The ADA as amended also provides a list of some conditions that may not be impairments under the law:

  • Homosexuality and bisexuality
  • Compulsive gambling
  • Kleptomania
  • Pyromania
  • Transvestism
  • Transsexualism
  • Exhibitionism
  • Pedophilia
  • Voyeurism
  • Gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments
  • Sexual behavior disorders
  • Common personality traits
  • Obesity (other than morbid obesity)
  • Current, illegal use of drugs
  • Short term, transient illnesses

Even with this “guidance,” understanding whether you are disabled and protected by the ADA is best left to experienced employment discrimination professionals.

ADA Protects Qualified Individuals with Disabilities

A qualified person with a disability has the skills, education, experience or other requirements needed to perform the job. You must be able to complete the essential duties of the position with or without a reasonable accommodation.

What does this mean? If you possess the required skills and can perform the essential functions of the job with some changes or assistance (accommodations) from your employer, you are a qualified individual under the law. If you are completely disabled for the foreseeable future and are unable to perform the essential functions of the job even with accommodations, your employer does not have an obligation to retain you.

Qualified Workers May Receive Reasonable Accommodations

An employer must provide reasonable accommodations that allow a qualified person with a disability, to perform the job. What is reasonable? It must not impose an undue hardship on the business – it must not be too costly or inconvenient as to make it unreasonable.

Speaking with a disability discrimination attorney at Leeds Brown can help you understand your employer’s obligation to provide you with an accommodation under the specific conditions of your workplace and job responsibilities. Some examples of accommodations that may be reasonable are:

  • Providing voice activated computer software for an employee with a visual impairment
  • Allowing a diabetic employee to take several breaks to take his insulin shots
  • Raising the desk of a worker in a wheelchair
  • Purchasing a phone with a particular receiver to assist a receptionist who has hand mobility issues
  • Moving the workspace of an employee with a bladder problem closer to the restroom

ADA Demands Interactive Process

The ADA requires that when an employee needs an accommodation, he or she must engage in an interactive process. This process involves presenting a request to the employer explaining the accommodation you need. The company must respond and work with you to find an accommodation that satisfies the needs of the business and the worker.

Leeds Brown can assist you to frame your request in a way that can increase the likelihood that your employer will respond in a positive way. It is important that you engage in the process with good intentions and be prepared to have meaningful give and take with your employer.

If that does not work, you may wish to file a formal complaint with the EEOC, the federal agency that oversees the enforcement of the ADA and/or the corresponding New York State agency, the New York State Division of Human Rights, and/or New York City agency, the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Filing with the correct agency is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit, and you must meet strict deadlines to preserve your rights.

Contact Us

If you have a disability and experience workplace discrimination, call New York City’s reputable employment lawyers. Let Leeds Brown know if you have been denied a job or terminated from employment. We can provide guidance every step of the way from determining whether the ADA applies to your case, whether your disability qualifies you for protection and if your employer owes you a reasonable accommodation.

Our attorneys represent discrimination clients with compassion and dedication and work tirelessly to secure fair outcomes. Call Leeds Brown at 1-800-585-4658 today to find out more about your rights under the ADA and how to proceed if you are the victim of discrimination in the workplace.

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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...

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