While being an at-will employee tends to be interpreted as an employer can fire you for any reason, that’s an inaccurate assumption. There are many reasons why an employer cannot fire an employee, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ADA prevents employers from discriminating against qualified employees based on a disability. If you have a disability, you still have the right to work in an accommodating work environment protected from discrimination.
While a list of qualified disabilities would be helpful to know whether you’re covered, none is provided. A disability can be a physical, mental, or psychological disorder that substantially limits activities.
You don’t have to have an official diagnosis of the condition to qualify under the Act. You simply have to have a history of the impairment, or the employer believes you do.
While defining disabilities is not as easily accomplished, the other part of the equation is “qualified employee.” An employee is qualified for the position when they present the following:
- Ability to perform “essential functions.”
If you are a qualified employee in your position, you cannot face repercussions based solely on your impairment.
Employer behaviors covered under ADA
When an employee has a disability but is otherwise qualified for the role, the employer must make reasonable accommodations for the disability. While the term reasonable is broad, the ADA covers areas of employment surrounding:
- Hiring and Recruitment
- Pay and Promotions
- Leave and Benefits
- Job Assignments or Termination
If you feel your disability is being held against you in the workplace, ensure you know your protected rights. Reasonable accommodations would be determined based on the needs or limits of the disability. Still, an employer cannot turn you down, fire you, or overlook you for promotion based on a perceived limitation.