Montana ADA laws & safety compliance analysis

Montana ADA: What you need to know

Comparison: State vs. Federal

The Montana Human Rights Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of mental or physical disability (MT Code Sec. 49-2-101 et seq.). The Act covers all public and private employers, employment agencies, and unions.

State Requirements
'Disability' Defined
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The Act defines "disability" as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person's major life activities, a record of such impairment, or a condition regarded as such an impairment (MT Code Sec. 49-2-101).

Obesity. The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that obesity may constitute a physical or mental impairment under the Act (BNSF Ry. Co. v. Feit, 365 Mont. 359 (2012)). The Court relied on federal regulations and EEOC guidelines in ruling that an individual is not required to prove that obesity is the result of an underlying physiological disorder when his or her weight is outside the "normal range" and affects "one or more body systems." In rejecting a line of cases to the contrary in other jurisdictions, the Court noted that those decisions were made before amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) instructed the courts that they were interpreting the ADA too restrictively. The Court ruled only that obesity is an impairment. To be a covered disability, an individual must prove that the impairment substantially limits a major life activity.

Reasonable Accommodation

Employers must make reasonable accommodations for the known physical or mental disabilities of an otherwise qualified applicant or employee unless to do so would pose an undue hardship on business operations (MT Code Sec. 49-2-101(19)).

Reasonable accommodation may include making existing facilities readily ...

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