Paper Trails

What is the ADA?

What is the ADA?

One job of the U.S. Department of Labor is to protect employees from certain acts from employers. One of these protections is against discrimination from an employer because of a certain disability. This is governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the ADA. Continue reading for more information on what the ADA is.

The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, was enacted in 1990. This civil rights act was put in place to protect Americans with certain disabilities against discrimination in all areas of public life including:

  • jobs
  • schools
  • transportation
  • all public and private places open to the general public

Title I of the ADA focuses on Equal Employment Opportunity for individuals with disabilities. Those with a certain disability must have the same access to employment opportunities and benefits as those without a disability. Once a person with a disability is employed, an employer must provide reasonable accommodations to that employee. According to the ADA, a reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to the job duties or workplace that enables an employee to complete their job. The US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission governs this portion of the ADA and this labor law applies to all businesses with more than 15 employees.

What are the employer responsibilities under the ADA?

As an employer, you may not discriminate against an individual with a disability in the following areas:

  • recruitment
  • pay
  • hiring
  • termination
  • promotion opportunities
  • job assignments
  • training
  • leave
  • lay-offs
  • benefits
  • any other employment related activities

That does not mean that you must hire an applicant with a disability if there are multiple qualified individuals. You may hire the most qualified applicant. The ADA only makes it unlawful for you to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability on the basis of that disability.

Additionally, employers must:

  • not discriminate against an individual, whether disabled or not, because of that individual\’s affiliation with an individual that has a disability.
  • provide reasonable accommodations for the employee with a disability to perform essential job duties that would not cause “undue hardship” on the employer.
  • display the “Know Your Rights” poster in the workplace.

As a reminder to employers, it is unlawful to:

  • ask an applicant whether they are disabled or about the nature of a disability.
  • to require the applicant to take a medical examination before making a job offer.

What is an essential job duty?

First, when determining reasonable accommodations for job duties, employers must pinpoint what the essential job duties are. Employers should look at each role within their organization and layout the job duties of each role. Determine which duties an employee must be able to perform, with or without reasonable accommodation, to function in that role. Factors to consider in determining if a function is essential include:

  • whether the reason the position exists is to perform that particular function.
  • the number of other employees available to perform that function.
  • the degree of expertise or skill required to perform the function.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

After determining essential job duties, employers must provide accommodation to an individual with a disability to perform that duty. Examples of reasonable accommodations can include:

  • A manager providing verbal feedback, rather than written, for an employee who has trouble reading.
  • An employer changing their no animal policy, in order to welcome an employee’s service animal.
  • A business providing accessible parking to those employees that have difficulty walking.

What is undue hardship?

Covered employers may be able to avoid making reasonable accommodations if it causes an undue hardship. An undue hardship is defined as action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considering an organization’s size, financial resources and the nature and structure of its’ operation. Remember, that only employers with 15 or more employees must be in compliance with the ADA requirements.