The ADA prohibits most employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. In order to be protected under the ADA, your employer must employ at least 15 employees, and you must have a "disability" as defined by the ADA. A “disability” under the ADA includes any of the following: 1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; 2) a record of such an impairment; or 3) being regarded as having such an impairment.
The ADA does not specifically define “disability” and does not identify every medical condition that entitles an individual to protection under the ADA. Nonetheless, even if you do not suffer from and do not have record of suffering from a physical or mental impairment that is substantially limiting, you may still be protected by the ADA if your employer perceives you as being disabled. In addition, the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their relationship with an individual with a disability. For instance, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because his or her spouse has a disability.
In order to be protected under the ADA, you must also be able to perform your job with or without a reasonable accommodation. The ADA requires employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities unless the accommodation would cause the employer significant difficulty or expense. Examples of reasonable accommodations might include changes to the work setting such as making an office wheelchair-accessible or modifying an individual's work schedule. It is the responsibility of the employee to make his or her needs known to the employer. The employer cannot accommodate the needs of the employee if it does not know what the employee’s claimed disability is, and what accommodations might assist the employee.
For more information on how the ADA protects you in the workplace, visit: