Massachusetts Disability Discrimination

In Massachusetts, it is illegal to discriminate against “qualified individuals” with a disability. The law applies to employers with more than six employees. This means that employers are required to provide “reasonable accommodations” to employees who can do their job with a disability if the accommodation will enable the disabled employee to perform the job.

Massachusetts mostly follows Federal Law when it comes to Disability Discrimination. A disability is any long lasting physical or mental impairment that limits a “major life activity” and is “fundamental” to the duties of the job. If these two requirements are met, then an employee is covered under law and an employer must provide the worker with a “reasonable accommodation.”

Disabilities: Some examples of covered disabilities include: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.

Reasonable Accommodation: While it is true that employers must provide a “reasonable accommodation” for qualified individuals with disabilities, employers need not do so if it would cause an “undue hardship.”
An accommodation is an “undue hardship” if: 1) the accommodation’s cost is high; 2) the size and financial resources of the business can’t support the accommodation; 3) the business structure won’t support the accommodation; and, 4)the effect the accommodation would have on the business is adverse. If the accommodation is an undue hardship, the employer can discriminate against the employee based on his disability.

Useful Links:

Enforcement Guidance: Disability-Related Inquiries And Medical Examinations Of Employees Under The ADA

2011 EEOC Regulations Interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments

Applying Performance And Conduct Standards To Employees With Disabilities under the ADA (EEOC guidance)