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Massachusetts AIDS and Disease: What you need to know

The Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate against a qualified individual with a handicap or on the basis of genetic information. The Fair Employment Practices Act covers all public employers and private employers with six or more employees (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 151B Sec. 1 et seq.).
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Handicap defined. “Handicap” is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded by others as having such an impairment.
Qualified individual with a handicap. A "qualified individual with a handicap" is a handicapped person who is capable of performing the essential functions of the position with reasonable accommodation.
An appellate court in Massachusetts ruled that an employee was not a "qualified handicapped person" as defined in the Fair Employment Practices Act because she could perform the essential functions of her job only during a 4-hour workday (Tompson v. Dep't of Mental Health, 76 Mass. App. Ct. 586 (Mass. App. Ct. 2010)). The employee in this case was a supervisor who had a disease that qualified as a handicap under the state disability law. However, the court ruled that the employee was not a "qualified handicapped person" under the law because she could not perform the essential function of supervising an 8-hour shift with her requested accommodation of a 4-hour workday.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against a qualified individual with a disability who is able to perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
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