In order to prove disability discrimination, you first need to be an employee with a disability. The disability must be something that limits one or more major life activities. The individual must have a record of the disability and have informed the employer of this. In most cases, informing an employer is done by providing the employer with documentation from a health care professional.
Second, the disability must be something that is recognized as limiting major life activities, what in legal terms is called an ADA-cognizable disability. For example, a person with occasional headaches is not considered disabled because the occasional headache does not limit major life activities other than the few times a year when the headache comes on.
Third, the employee or potential employee must be a person who is qualified to do the job. This consideration is used when a disabled person applies for a job and is turned down due to his or her disability. The disabled person must possess the same qualifications for that job that the nondisabled person has. For example, if the job requires a license in a certain trade, not hiring a disabled person who does not possess that license is not a violation of the ADA.
Fourth, the employee must request a reasonable accommodation for his or her disability. This request usually comes from a doctor who indicates why this accommodation is necessary under standard medical practice.
Finally, the employer must refuse to grant the accommodation. However, the employer is allowed to refuse to grant an accommodation that puts an undue hardship on the employer’s business. The determination of whether something is an undue hardship includes looking at the costs, size of the company, financial soundness of the business, and the nature and structure of the employer’s location.