Americans with Disabilities Act


    Purpose: The purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Pl 101-336, is to extend to people with disabilities civil rights similar to those now available on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in: employment, services rendered by the state and local governments, places of public accommodation, transportation, telecommunications services. This information focuses on the employment provisions of the ADA

    The ADA says...

    "No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures; the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees; employee compensation; job training; and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment."

    Major Employment Provisions

    • ADA requires equal opportunity in selection, testing and hiring of qualified applicants with disabilities.
    • ADA prohibits discrimination against workers with disabilities. This provision is similar to the Civil Rights act of 1964 and Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Beginning in July 1992, it applies to all employers with 25 or more employees and July 1994, to all employers with 15 or more.
    • ADA employment provisions apply to private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor-management committees.
    • ADA requires equal treatment in promotion and benefits.
    • ADA requires reasonable accommodation for applicants and workers with disabilities when such accommodations would not impose "undue hardship." reasonable accommodation is a concept already familiar to and widely used in today's workplace.
    • Employers may require that an individual not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of the individual or others.
    • Employers may not make pre-employment inquiries about an applicant's disability or conduct pre- employment medical exams. They may ask if applicants can perform specific job functions and may condition a job offer on results of a medical exam, but only if the exam is required for all entering employees in similar jobs.
    • Employers may conduct test for the illegal use of drugs and may prohibit illegal use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace.

    Some Key Definitions

    The term "disability" means:

    • a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities, for example, walking, seeing, speaking or hearing;
    • a record of such an impairment, for example, a person who has recovered from cancer;
    • being regarded as having such an impairment even when no limitations exist, for example, a person who is scarred from burns.

    The term "qualified individual with a disability" means an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires.

    The term "reasonable accommodation" may include:

    • making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;
    • job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position;
    • acquisition or modification of equipment or devices;
    • appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies;
    • the provision of qualified readers or interpreters;
    • other similar accommodations.