Tennessee Employment Attorneys Protect You against Workplace Discrimination

Advocating for disabled employees’ rights in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Jackson and across Tennessee

If you believe that you have encountered employment discrimination because of a physical or mental disability, the employment lawyers at Gilbert McWherter Scott Bobbitt PLC may be able to help. The Gilbert Firm’s Tennessee disability discrimination attorneys have a proven record of successful case outcomes. This has gained them national recognition as one of the nation’s leading employment law firms.

What is a disability according to the ADA?

Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ADA) added disabled persons to the class of people protected against employment discrimination. “Employment,” as defined in the ADA, includes recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, and social activities.

The ADA employs a very broad definition of a disability as:

  • An actual physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual; or
  • Having a record of such an impairment; or
  • Being regarded as having such an impairment

The definition of “major life activities” is also broad, including not only “caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing,” and so on, but also the normal operation of various bodily functions – the digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, and respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

The ADA was intended to be as inclusive as possible. Even being regarded or perceived as “having an impairment” satisfies its definition of a disability. That, the text goes on to explain, applies “whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.”

How the Act protects you in the workplace

The ADA restricts questions that an employer can ask you about your disability before a job offer is made. It also requires that employers make reasonable accommodation to your known physical or mental limitations if you are otherwise qualified for the job. For example, a qualified employee with a hearing disability might be given a telephone with voice-to-screen capabilities, or one in a wheelchair might have his or her workspace rearranged to remove obstructions. The ADA requires employers to make such accommodations unless they would result in undue hardships to the company.

The ADA also protects against disability-related harassment in the workplace. There is an important distinction between harassment and disability-related harassment. No law protects against ordinary nastiness by rude or uncivil people. It is only when acts of harassment are related to a person’s disability that they become actionable under the ADA.

Are drug and alcohol abusers covered under ADA?

Someone who is currently using illegal drugs is not considered “an individual with a disability.” The ADA also recognizes that employers must comply with other laws, such as the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, or rules set by federal agencies such as the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) requiring maintenance of drug- and alcohol-free workplaces. It is not a violation of the ADA for an employer to conduct tests for illegal drug use or to discharge or deny employment to anyone actively abusing alcohol or using illegal drugs.

However, the ADA also provides some protection for recovered or recovering drug abusers and alcoholics. Employers may not discriminate against anyone with a history of drug addiction or alcoholism if they have been rehabilitated and they are not currently abusing alcohol or using illegal drugs.

If you have encountered disability discrimination in your workplace, our Tennessee attorneys want to hear from you

Learn more about how we can help. The Gilbert Firm’s employment law attorneys are licensed to practice in both federal and state courts and have built a solid reputation as premier legal advocates for Tennessee clients. If you believe you have been the victim of employment discrimination, please call 888.354.FIRM (3476) to discuss your complaint with a Tennessee disability discrimination attorney, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. With offices conveniently located in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Jackson, we are able to represent clients throughout the state.