When an employer discriminates against you because of a disability, it can make you feel powerless. But know that you are not alone. The law is on your side. One option is to seek justice by pursuing a disability discrimination claim.

Evidence Needed to Support a Disability Discrimination Claim

1) A Disability

The ADA defines a “disability” as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual. One must have a record of, or being regarded as having, such an impairment.

Major life activities include (but are not limited to): caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeking, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

The court looks at three factors to determine whether an individual is substantially limited:

  • The impairment’s nature and severity
  • Its duration or expected duration
  • Its long-term impact

* Note that in recent years the scope of the ADA has been expanded to define ‘disability’ more broadly making it easier for people to obtain protection

2) Qualified for the Positon

An individual is qualified if with, or without, reasonable accommodation they can perform the essential functions of the employment position that they currently have or want. Essential functions refer solely to the fundamental duties of an employment position.

There are two steps to determine whether an individual with a disability is “qualified” for a position:

  • They must have the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the employment position they holds or want.
  • They must establish that with, or without reasonable accommodation, they can perform the essential functions of the position,

3) Adverse Employment Action

An employee must provide credible evidence showing that an employer acted adversely to an individual on account of their disability. Any tangible change in duties or working conditions that constituted a material employment disadvantage suffice.


Filing a disability discrimination claim can be intimidating.

Oftentimes employers respond by citing reasons for their actions. But even if an employer comes forward with a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its treatment of an employee, the employee may prove that the employer’s reason is merely pretextual to the discrimination.

Ways to establish that the employer’s reason is pretextual:

  • Show that the employer varied from its normal policy or practice to address the employee’s situation, or inconsistently applied its policy.
  • Demonstrate that the employer routinely treated similarly situated employees who were not disabled more leniently.