Under federal and Colorado law, discrimination against employees with a qualified disability is illegal and gives rise to damages remedies. A qualified disability is one that substantially limits a life activity.
Definition of Qualified Disability Expands in Recent Years
In recent years, the courts have become more lenient in defining what substantially limits a life activity. Employees with conditions like the following have all been included in the definition of “disabled” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):
- Heart conditions
- Lifting and back issues
- Mental issues.
Where necessary, employers are also required to provide reasonable accommodation for disabled employees.
Pursuing an ADA Disability Discrimination Claim
An employee wishing to pursue a discrimination claim under the ADA MUST file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the discriminatory act.
If, however, the employer has fewer than 15 employees, the charge must be filed within 180 days of the discriminatory act with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD), and the Colorado statute (CADA) will apply.
Although it is not necessary to retain an attorney to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or the CCRD, it is advisable to have legal assistance. An attorney can help:
- Draft a complaint
- Assist in providing evidence
- Provide helpful advice about procedural pitfalls and settlement.
In the event that a lawsuit is necessary, an attorney will be up to speed and available to help with the litigation decision.
Denver Discrimination & Employment Lawyer Justin Plaskov recently obtained a summary judgment (a decision on the pleadings and affidavits prior to evidence presented at trial) on behalf of an employee with a heart condition who was terminated a few days after beginning work at an oil company.
While summary judgment on behalf of employers is common, attorneys representing employees are almost never successful in obtaining summary judgment. This was one of the only employee summary judgments in the United States (see Cole v. Weatherford Int’l, LLC, No. 14-CV-1115-WJM-KMT, 2015 WL 3896835 [D. Colo. June 23, 2015]).