Employers in Maryland with 15 or more workers must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed by Congress in 1990. The ADA contains several provisions that may be subject to interpretation. The act does not include a definitive list of covered disabilities, and one of its primary provisions requires employers to take reasonable steps to accommodate disabled workers.
The law prohibits discrimination against the disabled when selecting or training a candidate. The act also requires employers to make provisions for their disabled employees. These provisions could include the installation of wheelchair ramps, the purchase of special equipment or allowing a disabled employee time off for medical treatment. Those with disabilities should also not be placed in a position where their condition would make it difficult to compete with their able-bodied colleagues.
An individual is protected under the ADA if they suffer from a mental or physical condition that impairs a major life activity. Individuals who are confined to a wheelchair or who are blind or deaf would be considered disabled under the act. Individuals who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction are not protected by the act if their condition prevents them from adequately performing their duties. However, recovering alcohol or substance abusers are protected.
Penalties for violating the ADA can be severe, but disabled workers are often hesitant to take action against discrimination. Many disabled workers find securing employment to be a challenge, and they may be reluctant to take steps that could jeopardize their position. An attorney with experience in this area could explain the protections provided by the ADA, and they may assess the merits of a discrimination claim and outline the steps involved in pursuing such a claim. This would give a disabled worker a better understanding of their legal rights and allow them to make a more informed decision.
Source: Findlaw, “Employment Discrimination”, November 17, 2014