Trying the most complex issues
for over 30 years.

Trying the most complex issues for over 30 years.

Dealing ethically, lawfully with an employee’s disability

On Behalf of | May 14, 2021 | Employment Litigation

Proven Colorado business principals have secured enterprise success through establishing an ability to successfully negotiate challenges and opportunities across a broad spectrum.

The list of matters that company owners and key managers routinely focus upon is materially lengthy and varied. Marketplace vagaries must always be anticipated and responded to. Regulatory compliance issues spanning tax, environmental, zoning/permitting and additional items are often front and center. So too are real estate concerns, intellectual property protections, risk avoidance, conflict resolution and myriad other things.

One of those “other” core considerations that top managers must retain a persistent focus on is management-employee relationships. An established Colorado employment law legal source duly notes that those “are often complicated” and can give rise to on-the-job conflict and problematic judicial challenges for employers.

Employer-employee disputes can owe to any number of catalysts and become instantly complex for the federal/state law interplay they involve. Spotlighted below is seminal federal legislation having specific significance for one labor demographic.

The ADA: a protective labor law with teeth

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 extended broad workplace safeguards to American workers defined by select “protected categories.” Those range from race and national origin to sex and religion.

Notably, disability was not included, a fact that was noted repeatedly in subsequent years.

Its omission was formally dealt with finally via the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The ADA served – and continues to serve – as tacit recognition that many millions of Americans having physical or mental impairments can still routinely produce quality work. Denying them the opportunity to do so has now been for decades an unlawful employer action.

Core ADA basics: essentially, a balancing test marked by fairness

The ADA is applicable to any individual who meets its statutory definition of “disabled.” For purposes of the act, that means any disability substantially limiting a “major life activity” (like seeing, talking or learning). Employers with 15 or more workers are subject to ADA mandates.

The above-cited balancing test is basically a two-pronged analysis, to wit:

  • An employer must make a “reasonable accommodation” enabling a disabled person to work (e.g., a ramp for wheelchair access; a modified workspace; an adjusted work schedule)
  • The reasonableness imperative is not absolute, but, rather, an imposed imperative only to the extent it results in undue hardship to management (some compromise can often be worked out)

An ADA remedy supporting a worker’s claim can confer broad-based benefits, including injunctive relief (e.g, required infrastructure modification), money damages and back pay.

A Colorado employer might logically have questions or concerns regarding the ADA. A proven employment law legal team can answer them and, when necessary, provide diligent representation.