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Employment protections for disabled Americans

Discrimination in the workplace is illegal in California and the rest of the country. There are a number of bases on which a discrimination claim may be made, such as race, religion and age. Employment discrimination based on an individual's mental or physical disability can also be grounds for legal action under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ADA applies to employers who have at least 15 employees. These employers may not base employment decisions, such as hiring, termination and promotion, on the actual or perceived disabilities that their employees and applicants experience. Employers may not inquire about their employees' disabilities and generally must offer their employees reasonable accommodations to enable their disabled workers to successfully perform their jobs.

The ADA also offers a relatively broad definition of disability for the purposes of establishing who may be protected under its terms. A disability under the ADA is one that substantially limits the individual's ability to perform a major life activity. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, walking, speaking and seeing. Under the ADA a disability may be either physical or mental.

When disabled employees of a private employer suffer disability discrimination in their workplace they may pursue their ADA claims through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in their jurisdiction. There are time limits on when an employee may initiate this type of action and if the EEOC finds that the employee's claims have merit then it will issue a "right to sue" letter to allow the employee to take legal action in federal court.

Disability discrimination is a very real problem. It affects men and women who are able to do their jobs and threatens the livelihoods that they often depend on. Claims of workplace disability discrimination can be reviewed with employment attorneys who advise workplace discrimination clients.