Paper Abstract

Disability (ADA) Discrimination

Justice starts today with a confidential attorney consultation.

Since 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has prohibited workplace disability discrimination. But hiring bias, harassment, and failures to reasonably accommodate disabilities remain all to common in Maryland.

At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we represent victims of ADA discrimination in every Maryland federal, state, and administrative court. To speak with a Maryland disability discrimination lawyer, contact us today.

Paper Abstract

Justice for ADA discrimination starts today with a confidential lawyer consultation.

Federal Disability DISCRIMINATION LawS (ADA)

The most important federal law prohibiting disability discrimination is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ADA). The ADA was amended in 2008 by the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), and other federal statutes such as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA) apply to some instances of disability discrimination; however, ADA lawyers generally refer to all disability discrimination in shorthand simply as ADA discrimination.

The ADA's goal, as stated by Congress, is to "assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency" for individuals with disabilities. A Maryland ADA lawyer furthers this goal by pursuing civil claims against employers engaging in ADA discrimination.

Importantly, the ADA only applies to employers with at least 15 employees.

description of ADA's employer size requirements

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) only applies to employers with at least 15 employees.

The ADA protects individuals with "disabilities." It defines "disability" in three main categories:

 

  1. An individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;

  2. An individual with a record of such an impairment; or,

  3. An individual who is regarded as having such an impairment.

An individual is considered to have a disability under the ADA if any of these three categories apply. A Maryland ADA discrimination lawyer can help determine which of these categories may apply to your specific circumstances.

description of major life activity under the ADA

A "disability" under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must substantially limit a major life activity.

A major life activity under the ADA can be any of the following (not exhaustive):

  • Caring for oneself

  • Performing manual tasks

  • Seeing

  • Hearing

  • Eating

  • Sleeping

  • Walking

  • Standing

  • Sitting

  • Reaching

  • Lifting

  • Bending

  • Speaking

  • Breathing

  • Learning

  • Reading

  • Concentrating

  • Thinking

  • Communicating

  • Interacting with others

  • Working

Importantly, if an impairment is temporary, it usually does not qualify as a disability under the ADA. A Maryland ADA discrimination lawyer can help you determine whether a condition qualifies as a disability.

note that temporary conditions do not qualify as disabilities under the ADA

A temporary condition (e.g., a cold or the flu) generally does not qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

To qualify for the ADA's protections, an individual with a disability must still be "qualified" for the job in question. This means that the individual with a disability must be able to perform the "essential functions" of the job, with or without an accommodation. The burden is on the individual to show that they can perform the essential functions of the job.

note that under the ADA, you must be qualified for the job

To qualify for the ADA's protections, you must be able to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without an accommodation.

note on court case about ADA discrimination

In Dahlman v. Tenenbaum, Civil Action No. DKC 10-2993,(D. Md. Aug. 9, 2011), the court outlined a two-part test to determine whether an individual is qualified for a job under the ADA:

  1. Can the individual perform the essential functions of the job in question; and,

  2. If not, would reasonable accommodations made by his employer enable him to perform those functions?

ADA discrimination generally takes one of three forms:

  1. Taking an adverse action (e.g., firing, not promoting, or demoting) because of an individual's disability;

  2. Failing to grant a reasonable accommodation; or

  3. Enacting policies or practices that have a disparate impact on individuals with disabilities.

A Maryland employer may not take an adverse action (e.g., hiring, failing to promote, or not hiring at all) against an individual because of their disability (or, as discussed above, because the employer perceives them to have a disability or the individual has a record of a disability).

note about ADA discriminaion elements from Maryland court case

In Ridgely v. Montgomery County, 164 Md. App. 214, 232 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2005), the court outlined a three-part test for adverse action ADA discrimination:

  1. Individual has a disability as defined by the ADA;

  2. Individual is qualified for the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation; and

  3. Individual was excluded from employment (e.g., fired, not hired) based solely on their disability

It's also possible to bring a "hostile work environment" claim related to the ADA, in situations where an individual with a disability is being harassed at work because of their disability. An ADA hostile work environment claim has slightly different requirements than those mentioned above, so you should contact a Maryland ADA discrimination lawyer if you're being harassed at work because of your disability.

In addition to ADA discrimination claims where an employer takes an adverse action against an individual with a disability, a Maryland employer can also violate the ADA by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant.

note about ADA reasonable accommodations

A Maryland employer can engage in ADA discrimination by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee or a job applicant.

Under the ADA, a reasonable accommodation includes the following:

  • making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;

  • job restructuring;

  • part-time or modified work schedules;

  • reassignment to a vacant position;

  • acquisition or modification of equipment or devices;

  • appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations;

  • training materials or policies;

  • provision of qualified readers or interpreters; and,

  • other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

description of reasonable accommodations under the ADA

Modifying your workspace, changing your schedule, and purchasing assistive equipment are all reasonable accommodations under the ADA.

But as the term itself suggests, an accommodation must be reasonable. This is often the crux of ADA discrimination disputes, as there's no clear-cut line for what accommodations are reasonable, and what accommodations are unreasonable.

As a general rule, an accommodation is unreasonable if it would cause the employer "undue hardship," which often means it would be prohibitively expensive or difficult for the employer to enact.

note that an ADA reasonable accommodation is not required if there's an undue hardship

An employer does not have to provide an accommodation that would cause the employer "undue hardship."

At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we enforce the disability discrimination provisions of the ADA by bringing ADA discrimination lawsuits in Maryland's federal district court. If you need a skilled Maryland disability discrimination lawyer, get in touch today.

Paper Abstract

Justice for ADA discrimination starts today with a confidential lawyer consultation.

State Disability DISCRIMINATION Laws (Title 20)

Disability discrimination in Maryland is prohibited by Md. Code, State Gov't § 20-606 (known as Title 20), which operates similarly to the ADA in most respects. Title 20 prohibits discrimination based on "[a] disability unrelated in nature and extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment..."

Title 20 defines a disability as a physical disability, infirmity, malformation, or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect, or illness, including epilepsy, or a mental impairment or deficiency. Generally, the same conditions that qualify as a disability under the ADA will qualify under Maryland's Title 20. 

note that Maryland's disability discrimination law is similar to the ADA

Generally, the same conditions that qualify as a disability under the ADA qualify as disabilities under Maryland's Title 20.

While the ADA and Title 20 are very similar in how they operate, the Court of Appeals of Maryland recently noted that Maryland regulations require “an individualized assessment by the employer of the employee's abilities to perform the essential functions of a job,” a process according “stronger protection for the employee than the federal ‘interactive process' regulation.”

description of Maryland court case on ADA discrimination

In Adkins v. Peninsula Reg'l Med. Ctr., 119 A.3d 146, 164 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2015), the court noted that Maryland's Title 20 requires an "individualized assessment" of an employee's abilities to perform the essential functions of a job, giving Title 20 "stronger protection for the employee" than the ADA.

Because of Title 20's stronger protections, it may be advisable in some situations to pursue a disability discrimination under Maryland's Title 20, rather than the ADA. At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we review a potential client's disability discrimination claims under federal, state, and local law to determine the best path for success. If you need a skilled Maryland disability discrimination lawyer, contact us today.

Paper Abstract

When you're ready to start fighting back against disability discriminationyou won't be fighting alone.

LOCAL Disability DISCRIMINATION Laws

 

Maryland's Title 20 specifically permits five Maryland counties or cities to provide for disability discrimination claims to be made under county law.

map of Maryland counties with ADA discrimination or disability discrimination laws

The following Maryland counties or cities allow disability discrimination actions to be brought under county law: 

  • Baltimore City. The Baltimore City Code prohibits disability discrimination by employers of any size, but does not provide for a private right of action (i.e., you can't file a disability discrimination lawsuit in court, but you can pursue a complaint and investigation through the Baltimore Community Relations Commission).

  • Baltimore County. The Baltimore County Code prohibits disability discrimination by employers of any size.

  • Howard County. The Howard County Code prohibits disability discrimination by employers with at least 5 employees, and is very similar to the ADA in its operation.

note that Baltimore City does not allow disability discrimination lawsuit

While Baltimore City prohibits disability discrimination in employment, the City Code does not allow you to file a disability discrimination lawsuit in court.

note that Howard County, Maryland's ADA discriminatio law only applies to certain employers

The Howard County Code section prohibiting disability discrimination in employment only applies to employers with at least 5 employees.

A Maryland disability discrimination lawyer will review federal, state, and county law when evaluating your claim. If you need a skilled Maryland ADA lawyer, reach out to us today.

Paper Abstract

A personalized, winning strategy for your disability

discrimination case is just a click away.

SUING FOR Disability DISCRIMINATION

When you sue for disability discrimination in Maryland, you need to "administratively exhaust" your claim. This means that you need to file an administrative complaint of disability discrimination before you can file a lawsuit in state or federal court. Like most employment discrimination cases under federal or state law, you must comply with strict deadlines and filing requirements. A skilled Maryland ADA lawyer or disability discrimination lawyer can help you file the necessary complaints, and keep track of the relevant deadlines.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you must file an administrative complaint of ADA discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the disability discrimination. 

note that an ADA claim must be filed with the EEOC within 300 days

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you must file your administrative complaint of disability discrimination within 300 days of the disability discrimination.

Once the EEOC has investigated your administrative complaint, they will issue you a "notice of right to sue." Once you receive that notice, you have 90 days to file an ADA discrimination lawsuit in federal U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

note that EEOC right to sue for age discrimination starts timeline

Once the EEOC issues you a "notice of right to sue," you must file your ADA discrimination lawsuit in federal court within 90 days.

Under Maryland's Title 20, you must file an administrative complaint of disability discrimination with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights within 180 days of the disability discrimination.

description of time limit for filing disability discrimination claim under Maryland law

Under Maryland's Title 20, you must file your administrative complaint of disability discrimination within 180 days of the disability discrimination.

Depending on whether you filed your administrative complaint of disability discrimination with a state or county agency, you must wait either 45 or 180 days to file a disability discrimination lawsuit in a Maryland circuit court.

note on time limits for filing ADA lawsuit in Maryland

Depending on where you filed your administrative complaint, you must wait either 45 or 180 days to file a lawsuit in Maryland circuit court under Title 20.

Because of the strict deadlines required to pursue an ADA or disability discrimination claim, it is vital that you speak with a Maryland ADA lawyer or disability discrimination lawyer as quickly as possible after the discrimination occurs.

Paper Abstract

Justice for disability discrimination starts today with a confidential lawyer consultation.

Paper Abstract

When you're ready to start fighting back against disability discriminationyou won't be fighting alone.

Blog Posts

For more on ADA discrimination in Maryland, check out the most recent disability discrimination blog post by the Center team:

Paper Abstract

A personalized, winning strategy for your disability

discrimination case is just a click away.

Paper Abstract

Justice for disability discrimination starts today with a confidential lawyer consultation.