Massachusetts ADA: What you need to know

The Massachusetts Fair Employment Practice Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate against a qualified handicapped person on the basis of the person's handicap. The Act covers private employers with six or more employees and all public employers (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 151B Sec. 1et seq.). An employer may not ask an applicant about the existence, nature, or severity of a handicap. Employers may condition an offer of employment on the results of a medical examination conducted solely to determine whether the employee is capable of performing the essential functions of the job with reasonable accommodation (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 151B Sec. 4(16)).

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Handicap. "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. Under state law, consideration of mitigating or corrective devices is not required when determining whether an employee has a handicap (Dahill v. Police Department of Boston, 434 Mass. 233 (2001)). In this case, the employee's severe auditory impairment qualified as a handicap under state law, even though his hearing was corrected with hearing aids.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the same as the state law with regard to mitigating measures. The ADA does not permit consideration of the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures when determining whether an individual has a disability.

Qualified handicapped person. A "qualified handicapped person" is a handicapped person who is capable of performing the essential functions of the position with reasonable accommodation.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that an ...

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Prohibited Practices
Genetic Information
ADA and State Law Compared
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Massachusetts ADA Resources

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