The ADA protects three categories of individuals from discrimination based on their disability:
Individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities – including such conditions as blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, cancer, heart disease, mental retardation, brain injury, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
The State of California has adopted a definition of disability that omits “substantial” as a requirement. That is, for disability civil rights protections under California law, a person need only have a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities.
- Individuals who have a record of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limited one or more of the individual’s major life activities, including people who have recovered from mental or emotional illness, drug addiction, heart disease, or cancer.
- Individuals who are regarded as having such a disability, regardless of whether they have the disability. Common examples are someone who is obese or someone who is scarred due to injury, where there is no functional impairment, but people may regard the person as having a disability.
- The ADA also protects people from discrimination based on their association with someone with a disability.