The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with disabling conditions from experiencing discrimination in numerous settings, from employment to public services.
Unfortunately, violations of the ADA can and do occur. When they do, victims of discrimination can file a complaint. In some cases, a single complaint can shed light on larger problems that warrant legislative interpretation and change.
Such was the case recently when a prisoner filed a claim citing discrimination based on a temporary disability. Although this particular case involved a prisoner, the decision from the court will extend to all persons covered by the ADA, including employees with qualifying disabilities.
Short-term disabilities and the ADA
According to reports, the man suffered a torn meniscus during his incarceration and experienced severe pain. Although the inmate should have received an MRI and a knee stabilizer, per medical recommendations, jail officials denied these treatments and various accommodations.
The man brought a claim under the ADA alleging that the jail discriminated against him in violation of the ADA. In response, jail officials argued that because the man’s disability was temporary, the ADA did not cover him.
This concept that a disability must be permanent or long-term to be actionable under the ADA is not uncommon. And it is true that in some legal arenas, a condition must be fatal or long-lasting to qualify as disabling.
However, the Court of Appeals, the highest New York State court, clarified that a short-term injury or condition could qualify as disabling in the context of ADA claims.
Disabilities under the protection of the ADA
If you have a mental or physical ailment that significantly restricts your abilities, it can qualify as a disability under the ADA. As stated by the Court of Appeals, there is no strict rule for how long a condition must last, but it must affect abilities such as:
- Caring for yourself
Finding answers during difficult times
Between the stress of a disabling condition and the frustration with receiving fair treatment, people covered under the ADA may find it challenging to find answers when questions regarding coverage and complaints arise.
And cases like the one discussed in this post remind us of just how complex discrimination matters can be and how crucial it is to pursue a complaint if you feel someone has violated your rights.