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Understanding Workers Compensation and the ADA

Those who have suffered a work injury, whether mental or physical, may be afforded additional workers' compensation protections other than those offered by the state of New York under the ADA. The ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act, has, since 1990, existed as a civil rights and liberties law that, according to the EEOC website, offers protections to citizens with disabilities in ways considered fair and equal under the law. This includes protecting against discrimination, such as discrimination in availability of public services, access to employment, access to telecommunications services and access to accommodations.

How does this impact a New York workers' compensation case? If an employee's injury led to a temporary or permanent disability but that employee is still able to return to work, he or she may require the protections of the ADA to prevent any discrimination or unfair treatment on the job, as these instances could either compound an existing claim or lead to a new claim. According to the New York Bar Association, on returning to work after an injury an employee is protected from discrimination as long as he or she is able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations made on the part of the employer for the employee's disability.

Protections under the ADA ensure that employers cannot change their employment practices to discriminate against workers in terms of pay, hiring, firing, promotions, training, vacation or other general rights as an employee so long as that employer has fifteen or more employees. Should an employer make any changes to a worker's terms of employment impacted by that worker's disability and affecting these conditions, the employee is protected not only by New York labor law but by the federal ADA in the event of pursuing a claim.

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