Do I Have Protections Under the Americans with Disabilities Act for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis Wrongful Termination and Discrimination LawyerRheumatoid arthritis can be a painful disease that affects your life in more ways than one. If the pain impacts your personal and work life, you may qualify for protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you are protected under the ADA, it means that your employer cannot make employment decisions based off of your disability.

If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you because of your arthritis, you may have the grounds to file a lawsuit against your employer and collect damages. Our attorney group is here to help you get the maximum compensation available if your employer acted unlawfully. We help people like you every day and answer questions they may have about any action they may want to take. Examples of such questions include:

  • Is rheumatoid arthritis considered a disability under ADA?
  • Can you work if you have osteoarthritis?
  • My employer fired me because I have arthritis. Can he legally do that?
  • Is rheumatoid arthritis protected under ADA?
  • I have arthritis and my boss discrimination against me. Is this illegal discrimination? I need a lawyer to sue my employer. Who is the best lawyer?
  • I was fired because I have arthritis. Is this wrongful termination? Can I sue my boss?

Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Protected Under the ADA?

Maybe. The ADA does not list out every possible disability that person may have. Rather its broad definition of disability – whether or not major life activities are affected – may encapsulate people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Major life activities are those things that people do on an every day basis to not only sustain themselves biologically but also monetarily. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, “caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.”

If your rheumatoid arthritis affects one or more of these, you may be protected under federal law.

What Laws Protect Individuals With Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was signed into law with the intention of protecting those people with disabilities from workplace discrimination and harassment. The term “disability” was made broad on purpose in order to not close the doors to any individuals who suffer from disabilities, so rather than list every kind of disease that is covered by the ADA, it lets the courts decide on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not a person is covered by the ADA. In order for your ailment to be considered protected under the ADA, it must be within the broad definition of “disability,” under the ADA.

The ADA defines disability as a physical or mental condition that severely limits one’s ability to perform major life tasks, a person with a history or record of the illness. Equally, an employer cannot presume that an employee has a disability and make decisions based on that assumption.

An employer is not supposed to discriminate against applicants nor employees. The employer, when considering the status of an employee and applicant, is only supposed to focus on two things: the employee’s qualifications for the job for which they applied and their ability to perform the essential job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Reasonable accommodation classifies as changes to a position or workplace policy which allows the disabled employee – in this case the employee with rheumatoid arthritis – to be as successful as possible in their position. For example, if your arthritis requires that you take longer breaks in order to deal with your disease, your employer may be required to give you such an accommodation. Refusing to give you reasonable accommodation is unlawful. Only if companies can show that the reasonable accommodation would cause an undue hardship on the employer will they be exempt from providing such an accommodation. In most cases, only small businesses with very limited resources are exempt. Larger businesses and corporations generally can’t make the same defense.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis your employer cannot overlook you if there is room for promotion, raise, benefits, and other positive aspects of the job. For example, if you are the most qualified employee but also have rheumatoid arthritis, your employer cannot consider all of the hardships that may come with their promoting you – like the reasonable accommodations that will have to go into making sure you can perform the essential job functions.

How to File Lawsuit Against Your Employer

If you believe that your employer has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, you may have the grounds to file a lawsuit against them and collect any damages to which are entitled. Our Los Angeles lawyers have years of experience and a proven track record of winning cases. We are headquartered in Los Angeles, but we take cases across the entire state of California. But before you can properly take action against your employer, you have to first file a charge with an employment government agency. There are two available to you in the state of California: the federal and state agencies. The federal agency is known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and enforces the ADA throughout the entire country. The state of California’s employment agency is a called the Department of Fair Employment &Housing. Both of these agencies enforce anti-discrimination laws. The EEOC and DFEH have a work-sharing agreement, and so that means that when you file a discrimination charge with one of these agencies, a duplicate copy is sent to the other agency; this is known as dual filing and serves to best protect your rights under both state and federal law.

If you are only protected by the EEOC, meaning that your state does not offer the same protections that the federal laws do, you have 180 days to file a charge from the day you last experienced the discrimination. Fortunately, California does protect employees from workplace discrimination, and so because both policies act in tandem, the deadline to file a lawsuit is extended to 300 days.

Once the agency launches an investigation and determines that your rights may have been violated under the ADA, you may request a “right-to-sue” letter. The right-to-sue letter gives you the legal green-light to take action against your employer. You only have 90 days to take action against your employer from the day you receive your letter, so it is recommended that you only request this letter once you and your attorney are ready to go to court.

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