Federal and Massachusetts employment law both protect handicapped employees. Just having a disability is not enough to be protected. A person must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, have a record of such impairment, or be regarded as having such an impairment.
Whether someone is substantially limited depends on the particular facts of each case. Major life activities include a number of different functions, such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.