The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers protection against employment discrimination to employees having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. This is explained in more detail below.
Physical or Mental Impairment
A physical or mental impairment is any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting certain body systems. For example, the following impairments would be covered under the ADA: a) epilepsy; b) paralysis; c) a substantial hearing or visual impairment; d) mental retardation; e) a learning disability; f) tuberculosis; and g) AIDS.
On the other hand, minor, non-chronic conditions of short duration would not be covered. For example, the following impairments would not be covered under the ADA: a) a sprain; b) an infection; c) broken limb and d) pregnancy. The ADA also states that the term disability shall not include: a) transvestism; b) transsexualism; c) pedophilia; d) exhibitionism; e) voyeurism; f) gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments; g) other sexual behavior disorders; h) compulsive gambling; i) kleptomania; j) pyromania; k) current illegal drug use; and l) psychoactive substance use disorders resulting from current illegal use of drugs.
Substantially Limits A Major Life Activity
The physical or mental impairment must also substantially limit one or more major life activities. Major life activities are activities that an average person can perform with little or no difficulty. For example, the ADA considers the following behaviors major life activities: a) walking; b) caring for oneself; c) hearing; d) seeing; e) learning; f) speaking; g) breathing; h) performing manual tasks, i) working; j) sitting; k) standing; l) lifting; and m) reading.