Who Is Protected by the ADA in the Workplace?


Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is illegal for any employer to discriminate against an employee with a disability in the workplace. This law defines discrimination widely, requiring employers to accommodate disabilities in the workplace whenever reasonably possible and making it illegal to disqualify applicants from a position based solely on the fact that they are disabled. If you are qualified for a job, a disability should not prevent you from holding that job.

The ADA applies to almost all employers in California and across the U.S. Private employers of any size, state and local governments, labor organizations, labor management committees, and employment agencies are all specifically covered under the ADA. In fact, any employer of any kind with at least 15 employees is subject to enforcement actions by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for violating the ADA. If you have a covered disability, you most likely are protected against discrimination by the ADA.

Do I Have a Qualified Disability That Is Protected under the ADA?

Knowing exactly which disabilities are covered under the ADA isn’t always easy, however. There is no exact list of which disabilities earn you protection under the ADA. In general, however, any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity is protected under the ADA. This includes any condition that you may have a history with or any disability that an employer believes you to have.

In practice, any condition that affects your ability to hear, see, speak, walk, breathe, perform manual tasks, care for yourself, learn, work, or carry out everyday activities is likely to be considered a disability. This includes all commonly recognized physical and learning disabilities that last a lifetime, as well as other medical conditions that may only last for a limited time. This includes chronic medical conditions that impair your ability to carry out daily activities intermittently. If a doctor considers your condition to significantly impact your life, that disability is likely covered under the ADA.

In order to ensure that you are given deserved protections under the ADA, you simply need to make your employer aware of any reasonable accommodations you may need to perform your duties. It is their responsibility to provide such accommodations.

If you are having a difficult time securing reasonable accommodations or face discrimination, you may be able to file a claim with the EEOC or otherwise assert your legal rights under the ADA. These types of cases are often complex and intimidating for employees due to the uneven balance of power. An employment lawyer can help you better understand your rights and give your voice more weight. Talk to the employment lawyers at Wakeford Law to ensure that your rights as a disabled person are protected. We are always available for a free initial consultation.

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