Americans with Disabilities Act

Helping Your Business Handle Discrimination Claims

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In this educational legal video, one of our experienced employment lawyers in Orchard Park, Andrew P. Fleming discusses the Americans with Disabilities Act.

When people ask about the Americans with Disabilities Act, I sometimes say. “It doesn’t work very well.” In any case, two basic types of claims fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The first relates to a person’s being treated differently because of a partial disability – just as if that person were being treated differently because of being a woman or because of their religion. That’s partial disability. It presumes you’re working and that you have some sort of partial disability.

The other type addresses an employer’s failure to provide, what the courts call reasonable accommodations for that person’s partial disability. Claims of disability involving just partial disability are often quite difficult to prove because the person had already been hired; they were working. Maybe someone who had a job as a receptionist had a slight vision problem when they were hired but, later on, the employer made a big issue out of that slight vision problem and let them go. Those claims are not common, but they do exist.

Many issues arise when people come back to work after an injury. Maybe you tear up your shoulder in a car accident during your private time. You come back to work with that torn up shoulder – and you’re a blue collar employee – and the employer is not giving you a fair shake when you get back. That can sometimes be considered discrimination based on the partial disability relating to your shoulder. That then slides into claims around the employer’s failure to accommodate a disability. An employer has a duty to provide reasonable accommodations for people who are otherwise able to perform the essential functions of their jobs. That quote right there is basically right out of the law.

Lots of disputes arise concerning what a person can and can’t do, with respect to the essential functions of their job. Let’s refer back to the guy with a torn up shoulder. If he’s a person who works on the back of a garbage truck and jumping on and off the back of a garbage truck is an essential function of the job, he might make an application for a reasonable accommodation by saying, “Look. My shoulder will be well in another four months. I would like the accommodation of being allowed to be the driver of the truck for four months.”

Other disputes arise around whether or not it’s reasonable to expect the employer to make a job – or hold a job, or switch jobs – for that employee. Is it reasonable to accommodate his recuperation for four months? Lots of factors go into that. As I indicated earlier, the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t work well because there are always mountains of disputes over what is and isn’t reasonable. Lawyers, of course, love the word “reasonable” because they get to fight about it. There are many, many case law decisions – what people commonly refer to as precedent – and lots of employees come to see us about these claims, but they’re not very easy, and we turn many of them down.

The Hamburg employment lawyers at Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP have extensive experience in aggressively representing the rights of employees in disputes related to the Americans with Disabilities Act, age discrimination, and a variety of other workplace disputes. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Let our experience work for you.

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