Disability Discrimination: Key Legal Points

If you are a disabled person who is employed by a company with more than just a handful of workers, you have important protections from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The following article takes a look at some key legal points to keep in mind if you feel you are being discriminated against by your employer because of your disability.


The ADA does not specifically state which mental or physical disabilities are protected under the law. Instead, the law says that if any disability, either physical or mental, rises to the level of a major impairment by interfering with your ability to function, then it's considered a covered condition. The law does address certain conditions that are specifically not covered, such as kleptomania and voyeurism.

Reasonable Accommodation

Another important legal concept regarding disability discrimination is known as "reasonable accommodation''. Under this legal standard, you have the right to ask your employer for an accommodation that will allow you to work more effectively and efficiently, as long as the request is considered reasonable. For instance, suppose you use a wheelchair and your wheelchair is too large to fit beneath the desk. In this example, it would be perfectly reasonable for you to ask your employer for a larger desk. 

An important point is that when you ask for a reasonable accommodation it must be directly related to your disability. For instance, if you just wanted a larger desk because it would be more convenient, that would not be considered a reasonable accommodation issue under the ADA.

Prima Facie 

If you feel you are being discriminated against because of your disability and are not able to reach an agreement with your employer, you will need to file a complaint with either the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), or a similar state agency. When the agency has investigated the case they will send you a letter stating their conclusions.

Once you have filed the complaint and received the agency's letter, you may now file a lawsuit if you choose. To get the court to consider your suit, you must make a so-called "prima facie" case to the court. This means that you must present enough evidence to the judge or jury that they are willing to let the case proceed.

Disability law is quite complex and you will need expert help if you plan to take your case to court. To learn more, contact a disability discrimination attorney.