Anyone who believes they were fired for having a disability or chronic illness.
What's Going On?
Despite federal protections, employers are still firing people because of their disabilities.
How Bad Is the Problem?
Over the past several years, the EEOC has recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars for employees who were wrongfully terminated because of their disabilities.
Despite federal laws protecting disabled workers against wrongful termination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) still receives thousands of complaints every year and continues to recover thousands for workers who were fired for having a disability or chronic illness.
What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act and Who Does It Cover?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination – including wrongful termination in employment – against people with disabilities. The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including government agencies. Some states also have stronger laws protecting small businesses.
Is My Disability/Illness Covered Under the ADA?
To have a disability under federal law, you must have a physical, mental or psychological impairment or cosmetic disfigurement that affects one of life’s “major activities.”
What Types of Impairments Are Covered?
It’s impossible to list all of the disabilities protected by federal law, but the ADA generally covers conditions that affect one or more of the body’s major systems or organs. This includes the brain, lungs, heart, skin, eyes, ears and reproductive organs. The ADA also covers conditions affecting musculoskeletal, lymphatic, hemic (blood), digestive, urinary and endocrine systems.
Some covered conditions may include:
Cancer (including cases in remission)
Alcoholism and drug addiction (if in recovery)
Chronic gastrointestinal disorders
Depression or other emotional illnesses
The ADA does not cover conditions that last less than six months and that are expected to heal, such as a broken bone or the flu.
What’s a Major Life Activity?
If a person has a covered impairment that affects any of the following activities, he or she is generally considered disabled under the ADA.
Lifting and bending
It’s also important to note that the ADA covers employees who were fired because the employer perceived he or she had a disability.
Have These Lawsuits Been Successful?
Yes. The following are some of the wrongful termination settlements the EEOC has recovered over the past few years.
$180,000 for a Walgreens employee who was fired for having Type II diabetes
$110,000 for a railroad worker who was wrongfully terminated for having degenerative disc disease – even though it was never determined whether this would affect his ability to work
$90,500 for a worker with postpartum depression who was fired and had her request for leave denied
$90,000 for a nurse who was wrongfully terminated after the nursing home found out the employee had HIV
$50,000 for a cook who didn’t show up to work because she needed time off to undergo surgery for breast cancer
$25,000 for an employee who was wrongfully terminated after having a seizure at work despite the fact he could still perform his job and documentation stated he could return to work