Disability Discrimination Attorneys
In New Jersey, federal protection is not as important on account of the
strong State measures to eradicate the cancer of discrimination in the
workplace. This is mostly included in the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
In New York, where the State law is not as strong, employees generally
look to federal law for protection. The significant distinctions between
the employment laws of New York and New Jersey are included in the
Garbar published article. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (“ADAAA”)
prohibits discrimination based on disability. It is applicable to businesses
with 15 or more employees.
Damages available under the ADAAA are the same as the damages available
pursuant to Title VII. The statute permits back pay, front pay, compensatory
and punitive damages. Like Title VII, the compensatory and punitive damages
are capped. The ADA was amended in 2008 and went into effect January 1,
2009. One of the primary reasons for the amendment was due to judicial
interpretation of the ADA. Similarly to Title VII and the ADEA, federal
courts generally do not act favorably toward employees who bring cases
of discrimination. Federal court judges, often times, favor businesses
and corporations. This is something an aggrieved employee should bear
in mind when considering filing a lawsuit in federal court pursuant to
Title VII, the ADEA or the ADA.
Nevertheless, the legislature acted and created the ADAAA which significantly
expands the protections offered to aggrieved employees with disabilities.
The ADA originally defined a disability as: (i) having a physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
(ii) having a record of such an impairment; or (iii) being regarded as
having such an impairment. While the definition has generally not changed,
the interpretation of the definition has significantly changed. As a result,
and as interpreted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
in its regulations, a much more broader view is now required with respect
to the definition of a disability and the major life activities (and major
bodily functions) which, under the definition, would be considered substantially limited.
Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself,
performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing,
lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating,
thinking, communicating, and working. Major bodily functions include,
but are not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth,
digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory,
endocrine, and reproductive functions.