Governor Hassan has proclaimed October Disability Employment Awareness Month in New Hampshire, reminding us all that disabilities should not stand in the way of employees succeeding in the workplace (see link). This is not only the way things should be. This is the law.
New Hampshire law (the New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination) and Federal law (the Americans With Disabilities Act) protect persons with disabilities against discrimination in employment. Importantly, a disability is not a condition so severe that it prevents a person from functioning. Under disability discrimination law, a person is disabled if the person has an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. An impairment will qualify as a disability if it substantially limits the ability of a person to perform a major life activity (such as walking, standing, lifting, bending, eating, breathing, or working) as compared to most people in the general population.”
Whether a person has an impairment that qualifies for protection under disability discrimination law requires an individualized assessment. Impairments that are temporary, episodic or in remission may qualify as disabilities. Impairments that can be treated with mitigating measures such as medication or medical supplies may likewise qualify as disabilities.
If a person is diagnosed with one of the following disorders, it is more likely than not that the individual will qualify for the protections afforded by disability discrimination law: hearing impairment, blindness, intellectual disability, partially or completely missing limbs or mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, major depressive disorder, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.
Employers who are subject to State or Federal disability discrimination law owe obligations to an employee deemed to have a disability, including the obligation to provide the employee any reasonable accommodation that the employee may need to perform the essential functions of his or her job. What may constitute a reasonable accommodation will be discussed here in a later blog.
If you believe you have a disability, and you believe that your employer has subjected you to an unfavorable action because of your disability, you should contact an experienced employment discrimination lawyer at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form.