Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended, (or in the case of federal employees, the Rehabilitation Act, as amended) employers subject to the law are prohibited from discriminating against any applicants or employees who have disabilities. The ADA covers all aspects of employment, to include pay, hiring and firing, and much more. Most Cincinnati employment lawyers are aware of the fact that the law also protects employees from being retaliated against by the employer when they seek to have their rights enforced.
A former employee of an Ohio-based home healthcare services provider (Personal Touch Home Care of Ohio) sought to have her rights enforced with respect to her being fired because of her disabilities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the provider a few years ago on behalf of the former employee, claiming she was fired because of her disabilities, namely her asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and renal failure. Apparently, the employee had worked for the business since 2000 without experiencing any problems with her job performance, despite the fact that she suffered with those disabilities.
The EEOC in that case attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement with the company before filing its case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Eventually, the company agreed to a two-year consent decree under which they were to pay $35,000 in compensation. The company, which has 50 locations throughout 13 states, also agreed to train all of its managers and supervisors in the Southwest Ohio area about disability discrimination.
Who Does the ADA Protect?
As many Cincinnati employment lawyers know, the ADA protects certain workers who have disabilities, a history of impairments or ailments, and those individuals who the employer regards as being disabled. This means any covered employee who suffers from a mental and/or physical impairment significantly restricting his or her major life activities or functions will be protected under the Act.
Also, if an employee has demonstrated he or she has suffered from a disability in the past, the employer is not permitted to discriminate against that employee based on the prior disability history. Further, if an employer believes an employee is disabled, but is incorrect in their belief, the employer is still prohibited from discriminating against the individual, even on the mistaken belief that he or she suffers from a disability. Individuals should note, however, that only “qualified” workers with disabilities will be protected under the Act.
Who is Considered to be a “Qualified Worker”?
A qualified worker is a disabled individual who is able to do the essential duties of his or her job, with or without an accommodation from the employer. Essential duties are those duties primary to one’s job–secondary duties do not count. For instance, if an employee works in a customer service call center, he or she might be primarily responsible for answering the phone, drafting documentation, and resolving complaints from customers. However, whenever there are periods of downtime, the individual might be asked to do some filing or restocking of supplies. Such downtime duties might be deemed ancillary or secondary.
If you or someone you love has been discriminated against because of a disability, contact the Cincinnati employment lawyers at Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A. right away.