The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits the discrimination of people with disabilities in workplaces, schools, and other areas. When it comes to employment, it is against the law for an employer to terminate an employee because of their disability. However, if a disabled employee is having performance issues in the workplace, it can get confusing whether the employer has the right to fire the employee. This article explores the question, “Can I be fired due to disability caused performance issues?”
What is Considered a Disability?
Before discussing whether an employee can be fired for performance issues caused by their disability, it is vital to look at what is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the ADA, someone has a disability if they have a mental or physical impairment that greatly impacts their ability to engage in major life activities. Examples of major life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, talking, working, and performing manual tasks. Mental or physical impairments include, among others, the following;
- Speech impairment
- Hearing impairment
- Visual impairment
- Cerebral palsy
- Heart disease
- Certain learning disabilities
Can You Be Fired Due To Disability Caused Performance Issues?
If you have a disability but are qualified to perform your job, the ADA protects you from being discriminated against based on your disability. According to the ADA, if you can perform the essential functions of your job with or without reasonable accommodations, your employer cannot terminate you.
So, what if you are having performance issues? If you are having performance issues because of your disability, it could be wrong for your employer to terminate you. The court decided in Humphrey v. Memorial Hospitals Association that behavior brought on by a disability is a component of the condition. According to the court, such behavior is not a separate basis for firing someone. The court ruled that such conduct is not a separate basis for termination. On the other hand, if your performance issues are unrelated to your disability, an employer may have the right to fire you.
The intersection of performance issues and disabilities can be a gray area. Whether or not an employer has broken the law may not be easy to determine. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated due to performance issues caused by your disability, you should consult an employment lawyer. An attorney can assess your situation and help determine if your rights have been violated.
Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Employees
According to the ADA, covered employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The ADA covers employers that have fifteen or more employees. As long as providing an accommodation would not result in “undue hardship” to an employer, the law requires employers to provide employees with disabilities the necessary accommodations. Reasonable accommodations can include making the work area more accessible, restructuring job schedules or duties, and installing signs in braille. However, an employee with a disability must inform their employer about their disability so the employer can provide accommodations.
Contact the Trabosh Law Firm
If you need guidance on this or any other employment-related issue, contact our skilled New Jersey employment lawyer at the Trabosh Law Firm.