The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a comprehensive federal civil rights law that protects people with disabilities. Title I of the Act prohibits discrimination in employment, ensures equal opportunity employment and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions.
Title I of the ADA protects qualified employees with disabilities. A qualified employee is one who possesses the skill, experience, education and other-job related requirements of the position being sought or held and can perform these functions with or without a reasonable accommodation. The term “disability” used in the ADA language is defined in legal, rather than in medical, terms.
An individual with a disability is:
• A person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as: breathing, walking, talking, hearing, seeing, sleeping, caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, and working. Also included is major bodily functions such as immune system functions, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
• A person who has a record (history) of such an impairment; i.e., previously diagnosed with cancer, but now free from or,
• A person who is regarded as having such an impairment based on the attitudes or opinions of one or more individuals.
You are not required by law to disclose your disability at the time of application unless or until you know there is a workplace barrier that will prevent you, based on your disability, from competing for a job, performing a job or gaining equal access to an employment benefit. However, it is in your best interest to request an accommodation before your job performance suffers or conduct problems arise. NOTE: under the ADA, employers are not required to rescind disciplinary action that occurred prior to their knowledge of your disability. Additionally, employers are ONLY required to provide appropriate accommodations for employees with a disclosed disability as long as the request does not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business.
According to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), you are not required to mention the ADA or use the phrase “reasonable accommodation” when making a request based on your disability. You only have to let your employer know that you have a medical condition that requires an adjustment or change at work. These requests do not have to be in writing, however, to avoid disputes you may want to do so, even if your employer doesn’t require it.
Once requested, the employer and the individual should discuss the individual’s needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation. Some examples from the EEOC are as follows:
• Make existing facilities accessible
• Job restructuring
• Part-time or modified work schedules
• Acquiring or modifying equipment
• Reassignment to a vacant position
• Medical leave
According to the EEOC, there is no specific timeframe that employers have to respond to an accommodation request, but they should respond in an expedient manner. Unnecessary delays in response time or implementation of the request can result in a violation of the ADA.
For more information on how the ADA protects you, please call or visit the following:
The JAN (Job Accomodation Network) has extensive resources on accommodations: click here.
For more information on how the ADA covers those with diabetes, click here.
If you have a condition that affects your ability to work, please contact us. We can assist in getting reasonable accommodations.