Disability and Reasonable Accommodations

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.), commonly called the ADA, is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA is divided into five different sections, called Titles:

  • Title I – protects workers with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace;
  • Title II – prohibits disability discrimination by public entities, such as state and local governments, and public transportation;
  • Title III – prohibits disability discrimination by places of “public accommodation” and requires them to remove barriers to full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, and facilities;
  • Title IV – requires telecommunications companies in the United States to make certain accommodations; and
  • Title V – contains miscellaneous and technical provisions.

What Protections Does the Americans With Disabilities Act Offer For Employees?

Titles I, II, and III of the ADA offer the most substantial protections for disabled individuals. Title I requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees, whereas Title III applies to all persons who own or lease property held open to the public.

To qualify under the ADA, an individual must have a disability. The ADA defines disability broadly to include most conditions that make it difficult to perform important life activities. For example, disabilities can include:

  • Physical disabilities, such as blindness, deafness, mobility problems, and many others;
  • Emotional or mental problems; and
  • Recurring problems, such as seizures or panic attacks.

There is no requirement that an employee has a formal diagnosis with a disability to receive a reasonable accommodation; however, the employee must either have a record of the impairment or be regarded has having such an impairment.

Likewise, in order for the ADA to require an employer to make reasonable accommodations, the employer must qualify as a place of “covered entity.” Covered entities are:

  • Private employers with 15 or more employees;
  • Employment agencies;
  • Labor organizations; and
  • State and local governments (under Title II).

The ADA does not apply to employers with less than 15 employees. However, Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act (Co. Rev. Stat. Sec. 24-34-402) extends many of the protections offered to employees by the ADA to these smaller employers.

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

There is no specific definition of “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA or Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Statute. However, the ADA does specify that reasonable accommodations can include:

  • Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;
  • Job restructuring;
  • Modified work schedules;
  • Reassignment to another position;
  • Buying or modifying work equipment to accommodate a disabled worker; and
  • Providing training materials or policies.

Contact a Colorado Employment Law Attorney

If you suffer from a disability like one of those listed above and are having difficulty in the workplace, it is important that you contact an experienced reasonable accommodations attorney as soon as possible. At HKM Employment Attorneys LLP, we have experience helping disabled individuals to receive the workplace accommodations they need to be successful. We can also serve as an advocate for employers who are facing a lawsuit related to reasonable accommodations.

If you need an employer to provide reasonable accommodations for you in the workplace, do not wait – contact HKM Employment Attorneys LLP today. You can contact us online or call us at 303-991-3075 for a private consultation.