Individuals who have a physical or mental disability must often overcome many challenges in life. Historically, disabled Americans have suffered discrimination which often adversely affects one’s ability to obtain and retain employment and secure financial independence.

In an effort to protect the rights of disabled individuals, in terms of employment and also access to public buildings, in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law.

Under the ADA, it’s illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based upon his or her physical or mental disability in relation to the employment practices of “hiring, training, promotion, pay, benefits and termination.” While the basic protections afforded under the ADA are fairly clear-cut, it’s not always easy to distinguish if, under ADA guidelines, an employee is disabled.

For example, an individual who has been diagnosed as an alcoholic or drug addict may qualify for certain protections under the ADA. He or she is not, however, protected from disciplinary actions that may result in the event an employer discovers that an employee is drinking prior to a work shift or a drug test returns positive results.

Additionally, under the ADA, a qualifying physical impairment must impede an individual’s ability to perform work duties in more than just one or two jobs or fields. For example, some job positions require an individual to pass a vision exam or health screening. In cases where the results of an exam or screening reveal that a job applicant needs prescription glasses or has high blood pressure, thereby disqualifying an individual from a specific job, this action is not covered under the ADA.

Residents in the Los Angeles area who have a physical or mental disability and have suffered discrimination at the hands of an employer, supervisor or co-worker may have grounds to pursue legal action. Employment discrimination against disabled Americans is illegal and an attorney who handles workplace discrimination cases can assist in helping seek justice.

Source: FindLaw.com, “Disability Discrimination and the Law,” Feb. 23, 2015