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How to know if you are covered by the ADA

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, job discrimination against those with disabilities is prohibited. Disabled people can sometimes face mistreatment from employers but are not aware they are protected by the ADA. It is vital to know what situations are covered and if you have faced disability discrimination.

Basic definition of disability

The ADA does not protect everyone with any medical condition. In order to be eligible for protection, you must have a legally defined disability and possess the appropriate qualifications for the job you are seeking. Disabilities are defined by the ADA as conditions that significantly limit major life activities such as the following:

  • Walking
  • Seeing
  • Talking
  • Learning

When you have an impairment that substantially reduces your ability to partake in these activities, you are considered disabled by the ADA.

Common examples

While there is no exhaustive list of all disabilities covered by the ADA, there are some conditions that are provided under regulatory guidance:

  • Reliance on canes or walkers
  • Mobility impairment requiring a wheelchair
  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Learning impairments
  • Missing limbs
  • Certain mental illnesses
  • Autism
  • HIV infection
  • Cerebral palsy


Many physical and mental conditions may constitute disabilities, if they can cause workplace environments to be challenging.

Undue hardship

It is important to know that employers are not required to provide accommodations in all cases. If an employer faces undue hardship in the process of providing accommodations, they are not under penalty of the ADA. Employers of different sizes and financial resources face varying limitations for accommodating employees with disabilities.

Reasonable accommodations

In the event that employers would not face undue hardships, they are required by law to give reasonable accommodations. This includes changing the work environment to make it easier for a disabled person to apply for a position, perform the necessary duties of a position and enjoy the benefits of employment. Examples of reasonable accommodations include making the workplace wheelchair accessible or providing a reader for a blind applicant or employee.

Application and interview process

Employers are not allowed to inquire about an applicant's medical details before providing a job offer. They are also prohibited from asking about an applicant's obvious disability or asking if they have one that is not obvious. However, employers are allowed to ask the applicant if he or she is able to perform the job properly.

Finding and maintaining employment when dealing with a physical or mental condition can be difficult. If you feel like you have faced discrimination due to a disability, you may want to contact an attorney experienced in employment law.

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