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"Regarded as Disabled" Employment Discrimination Claims Under the ADA

Interactive Process, Reasonable Accommodation, Management Training, and More

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, January 12, 2023

Recorded event now available

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This CLE course will guide practitioners through the "regarded as disabled" standard under the ADA and how it applies to protect individuals who otherwise would not be protected as "disabled" under the law. The panel will also discuss best practices for training managers and other supervisory personnel to avoid discrimination claims under the ADA.


Employers must make reasonable accommodations for mental and physical impairments of their employees with disabilities so long as the employee can perform their essential job functions with such accommodation. That the ADA provides similar protection to people who are "regarded as" or perceived to be disabled is less understood.

Courts are split on how to apply the concept and parameters of "reasonable accommodation" to employees whose employers perceive them as disabled even though they do not meet the statutory definition of a qualified individual with a disability.

Employers need to understand and anticipate the potentially pernicious impact of perceptions of an employee's (or applicant's) physical as well as mental attributes and when and whether such perceptions require an "interactive process" under the ADA to explore reasonable accommodations.

Listen as our panel discusses the "regarded as disabled" standard under the ADA and when an "interactive process" may be triggered. Our panel will also discuss best practices for training management on how to avoid potential discrimination claims when making decisions about employees and applicants.



  1. Overview of the ADA provision for employees "regarded as disabled"
  2. Discussion of when a reasonable accommodation may be required
  3. Analysis of when managers should engage in an interactive process with the employee or applicant
  4. Best practices for employment counsel in training managers on how to avoid liability for discrimination claims under the ADA


The panel will review these and other relevant topics:

  • What protections does the ADA offer to employees that are "regarded as disabled" by their employers?
  • When must reasonable accommodation be offered to employees who are "regarded as disabled"?
  • At what point should managers/human resources engage in an "interactive process" with such employees under the ADA?
  • Dealing with common traps of "regarded as" disabled individuals (e.g. alcohol abuse, overreaction to known illnesses, etc.)
  • How can employers train managers to avoid potential discrimination claims due to "regarding employees as disabled"?


Morris, Frank
Frank C. Morris, Jr.

Epstein Becker & Green

Mr. Morris leads the firm’s Employment, Labor and Workforce Management Practice in the Washington, D.C., office,...  |  Read More

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