The Basics Of American Diability Discrimination Law

In the United States, federal law requires that employers and public accommodations make reasonable efforts to assist people who have disabilities in going about their jobs and basic daily activities. These efforts are expected to extend to folks who might apply for work at a company or come there as customers.

For example, a grocery store would expect individuals with mental or physical disabilities to regularly visit in order to buy things. Likewise, they may reasonably expect at some point to be asked about employment by folks with disabilities.

If they fail to make reasonable adjustments to the environment at the business, there may be grounds for suing them for discrimination. Here are some of the basic factors a lawyer who provides disability discrimination law services might look at when considering taking on a case.

Is the Disability Transitory?

This question mostly applies to employment situations, as many public-facing aspects of a business are expected to accommodate people regardless of the permanency of their conditions. In an employment scenario, a transitory disability is defined as one that lasts for six months or less. If an employee will not need adjustments made for more half a year, a business likely does not have to make accommodations.


An employer cannot discriminate against an employee or a potential hire based on a condition that is well-treated or in remission. For example, someone who has a history of cancer can't be ruled out from a job on the basis of it being in remission.

The Cost of Adjustments

If the expenses tied to making adjustments would be prohibitive, a business may have grounds for not making them. Given the high rate of acceptance of some accommodations, such as wheelchair ramps, the costs need to be fairly high. According to EEOC rules, undue hardships for companies are assessed based on the size of the business and their ability to implement adjustments.

Federal Contracts

While the Americans with Disabilities Act place requirements on most companies, there may also be additional requirements imposed on firms that have federal contractors. Under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, contractors with more than $10,000 worth of business with the U.S. government cannot discriminate on the basis of disabilities and they must also take affirmative action in hiring new employees. If there are questions about whether an employer meets this threshold, a disability discrimination attorney can request proof or seek it in discovery.