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Understanding the ADA: A Comprehensive Guide on Disabilities Covered and Workplace Protections

Founding Member of Moshes Law, P.C.
During his years of practice, Yuriy has concentrated in litigation and real estate transactions as his areas of expertise.

Introduction

In the quest to ensure equal opportunities for all, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) plays a pivotal role. This civil rights law was established to safeguard individuals with disabilities from discrimination in all public life spheres. This article delves into an inclusive list of disabilities protected under the ADA and sheds light on the ADA’s essential aspects and implications in the workplace.

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ADA: An Overview

Enacted in 1990, the ADA is a beacon of hope for people with disabilities, providing protections akin to those offered on the grounds of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. At its heart, the ADA identifies a disability as a physical or mental impairment substantially limiting one or more major life activities. It can also refer to having a record of such impairment or being perceived as having such an impairment.

Which Disabilities Are Covered by the ADA?

The ADA casts a wide net over various disabilities. Instead of a finite list, the ADA provides a robust framework to determine whether a specific condition qualifies as a disability. Disabilities may encompass conditions such as deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, limb or mobility impairments, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, and schizophrenia. Moreover, the ADA also considers conditions episodic or in remission if they would limit major life activities when active.

ADA Exceptions: What Isn’t Covered?

The ADA’s definition of “disability” does not cover certain conditions. These exceptions include transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not due to physical impairments, other sexual behavior disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, and psychoactive substance use disorders resulting from the current illegal use of drugs.

ADA and Workplace: Understanding Disability Discrimination

Discrimination against a qualified individual due to their disability constitutes disability discrimination. The ADA staunchly prohibits discrimination in all employment aspects, encompassing job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other employment terms, conditions, and privileges.

Recognizing Workplace Discrimination

Workplace discrimination can take numerous forms. It may involve treating an employee unfavorably due to their disability, requiring a medical examination or inquiring about a disability when not job-relevant, or failing to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled individual.

The Application of ADA Protections

ADA mandates employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, unless causing substantial difficulty or expense to the employer. Reasonable accommodation may involve making the workplace accessible, modifying work schedules, acquiring or modifying equipment, or providing qualified readers or interpreters.

Promoting a Discrimination-Free Workplace

Employees can contribute to a discrimination-free workplace by respecting cultural and racial differences, maintaining professionalism, refusing to engage in discriminatory practices, avoiding offensive humor, understanding company policies, and reporting inappropriate behavior. Employers can address discrimination by maintaining open conversations about race, incorporating anti-racism into their values, creating awareness, and fostering diversity. Recognizing that racism can exist without conscious intent is vital, as is promoting racial equity through a process called PRESS, involving problem awareness, root-cause analysis, empathy, strategies to address the problem, and sacrifice. 

Conclusion

Understanding the scope and nuances of the Americans with Disabilities Act is crucial to ensuring fair treatment and equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The ADA’s protective umbrella is comprehensive, covering a wide range of physical and mental conditions, each with their unique needs and considerations.

However, understanding your rights and knowing when they’ve been infringed upon can sometimes be challenging. If you believe you’ve been a victim of disability discrimination in the workplace, it’s crucial to seek professional legal help.

At Moshes Law, P.C., we specialize in employment law and have extensive experience in dealing with ADA-related cases. Our dedicated team of legal professionals is committed to fighting for your rights and ensuring that you get the justice you deserve. If you need assistance or have questions about your situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation.

Remember, you are not alone in your fight against discrimination. Moshes Law, P.C. is here to help.

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