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What Counts as a Physical or Mental Disability?

Most physical and mental medical conditions are protected by the ADA. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explicitly lists these conditions as protected disabilities:

  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Intellectual disability
  • Partially or completely missing limbs or mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Schizophrenia

This list is not meant to be complete. It’s best to treat any physical or mental medical condition as a protected disability, to not discriminate based on any medical condition, and your company should offer reasonable accommodations for any medical condition.

Some recognized medical conditions are not protected by the ADA, and employers may choose not to hire individuals who are experiencing these medical conditions. These excluded disabilities typically pose a danger to other employees or to the company’s property, including:

  • Sexual behavior disorders (pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism)
  • Compulsive gambling
  • Kleptomania
  • Pyromania