The Americans with Disabilities Act and Workers’ Compensation

Our attorneys have been assisting the Orange County and Southern California communities for over 40 years.

Request free consultation

The Americans with Disabilities Act and Workers’ Compensation

Request free consultation
Posted By DAM Firm | December 13 2016 | English

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, and it prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, transportation, accommodation, communications and government activities. Essentially, a person is guaranteed equal employment rights no matter their physical or mental impairments, for the most part.
If you get hurt at work, worker’s compensation will handle it, so that a claim is not filed in court. Usually, an injury takes some time to heal before you can return to work and lead a normal life. When an injury becomes a disability, something that permanently impairs your ability to work at the same level of function before your injury, that’s when the ADA and worker’s comp would have to work side by side.

What Is a Disability?

The definition for what exactly constitutes a disability, as well as the employer’s requirements for accommodating such employee’s, has been tweaked several times since the ADA’s enactment, most recently in August of this year. Generally, a disability is:

  • A person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  • A person with a record of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  • A person who is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

These major life activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, hearing, seeing, breathing, learning or speaking. In order for an employer to have to make special accommodations, it must be determined that one or more of these things is severely hindered by the disability.

Employee’s Rights

When you are hurt at work, you are usually entitled to worker’s compensation. However, there are some things about the ADA and worker’s comp that is subjective. Employers are required to make a “reasonable accommodation” for their disabled employees in order to be ADA-compliant. These accommodations include anything from modifying work hours, reassigning them to a less physically demanding position or making the office/building itself more easily accessible.
These changes, whether temporary or permanent, must be made unless the company can show that they would impose an “undue hardship.” According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, undue hardship is:

  • The nature and cost of the accommodation needed.
  • The overall financial resources of the facility making the reasonable accommodation; the number of persons employed at this facility; the effect on expenses and resources of the facility.
  • The overall financial resources, size, number of employees, and type and location of facilities of the employer (if the facility involved in the reasonable accommodation is part of a larger entity).
  • The type of operation of the employer, including the structure and functions of the workforce, the geographic separateness, and the administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility involved in making the accommodation to the employer.
  • The impact of the accommodation on the operation of the facility.

If the employee will never be able to perform the functions of their job again, even with accommodation, the employer can terminate the employee. However, if you are injured at work and a compensation claim will be made in conjunction with ADA regulations, the employee must attempt to make accommodations for you. They must consider the ADA when you return to work, as even doing nothing may find them in violation of the law. 
If you have been wrongfully terminated because of disability or need help acquiring certain benefits, contact an experienced legal team who can help protect your rights today.

Request Free Consultation

  • *required fields