Disability Discrimination and Reasonable Accommodations (ADA)

Your Employer Must Reasonably Accommodate Your Disability

Massachusetts and federal law both prohibit discrimination against people with physical and mental disabilities and require employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. These laws are designed to ensure that people with disabilities have the same employment opportunities as everyone else.

Although these discrimination laws are well-known, many employers still discriminate against employees with a disability and/or fail to make reasonable accommodations to allow them to participate fully in the workplace.

What is a Disability?

The term “disability” is interpreted broadly for purposes of the disability discrimination laws. It includes any physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning or operation of a major bodily function). Some examples include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • HIV
  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Deafness or hearing loss
  • Blindness or low vision
  • Epilepsy
  • Mobility disabilities such as those requiring the use of a wheelchair, walker, or cane
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Traumatic brain injury

Massachusetts and federal law cover many other disabilities not listed above. A medical condition doesn’t need to be long-term, permanent, or severe to be substantially limiting. If symptoms come and go, what matters is how limiting the symptoms are when they are active.

Have You Been Discriminated Against Or Harassed?

Disability discrimination can occur in many ways in the workplace including:

  • Unreasonably failing to make accommodations for an employee’s disability, including:
    • Accommodations to make work facilities accessible
    • Changing schedules and/or assignment
    • Granting telework
    • Providing readers or sign language interpreters
    • Modifying existing equipment
    • Permitting the use of leave for treatment, recuperation or therapy
    • Modifying company exams, training materials or policies
    • Any other reasonable modification that is medically necessary for your disability
  • Requiring an employee to pay for reasonable accommodations, including decreasing an employee’s compensation or benefits to cover the cost of reasonable accommodations
  • Asking an employee about their family medical history and/or genetic information and/or requiring genetic testing
  • Offensive or derogatory remarks about an employee’s disability or need for accommodation
  • Basing hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, or benefits on an employee’s disability
  • Segregating employees with disabilities (e.g., keeping them out of public-facing positions or directing them to certain offices or regions)
  • Asking job applicants whether they have a disability and/or requiring them to take a medical examination (prior to offering them a position).

Disability discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because they’re married to, related to, or associated with a disabled person. It’s illegal, for example, for your employer to discriminate against you because they believe you can’t devote adequate time to your job because you have to care for a disabled family member.

Discrimination can be based on real or perceived disability. It’s illegal for your employer to fire you because they believe you have a disability – even if you’re not disabled.

We Fight Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

If you’ve experienced discrimination, we can help. Our attorneys have worked with many employees who have been discriminated against because of their disabilities and/or denied reasonable accommodations from their employers.

Every client has specific circumstances that require individualized attention to ensure the right outcomes. With our unique approach to litigating employment cases, we can provide skilled representation and tailor an effective legal strategy in our pursuit of justice for you. Standing up to your employer can be very stressful, but we’re here to fight aggressively for you and protect your rights.

Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.

Aggressive Representation. Personal Attention.