Many times work place biases influence how we are treated at work. Fortunately, congress has enacted laws to protect us from many forms of employment discrimination. One of these laws is the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits disability discrimination against qualified individuals. The ADA prohibits your employer from taking adverse action against you because of your disability and also protects you from harassment and retaliation for complaining about disability discrimination or being involved in another employee's disability discrimination case. Who does the ADA protect? The ADA protects qualified individuals with a disability. This is typically defined as a worker with any medical, psychiatric or physiological condition that substantially limits a major life activity. This definition has also been extended to included discrimination based on stereotypes – sometimes called "regarded as." For example, an employee may have a condition that doesn't affect him or her in any way, but due to unfounded fears the employer believes employee is disable and takes negative action. In a recent disability discrimination case out of the First Circuit, the court determined that a schizophrenic worker sufficiently pleaded that his employer forced him to stop working because it regarded him as disabled. His complaint allege that he had been removed from his job even though he had favorable medical reports and that his employer mistakenly believed his psychiatric condition limited his ability to do his job. The court also determined that the employee's schizophrenia had not had a substantial impact on his work.
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