Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created by Congress in 1990 and went into effect in 1992. The legislation outlaws discrimination and provides equal opportunity for persons with certain disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, public services and commercial services. The Act was amended in 2008. The EEOC has summarized these amendments as follows:

“On September 25, 2008, the President signed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADA Amendments Act” or “Act”). The Act emphasizes that the definition of disability should be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA and generally shall not require extensive analysis.

The Act makes important changes to the definition of the term “disability” by rejecting the holdings in several Supreme Court decisions and portions of EEOC’s ADA regulations. The effect of these changes is to make it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the ADA.”

Employers may not discriminate in practices that include recruitment, hiring, firing, training, assignment, promotions, pay, benefits, and leave.

Employer Obligations

Under the law, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for those workers with a qualified disability.

Reasonable accommodations may include the following:

  • Providing readers and interpreters
  • Job restructuring
  • Providing or modifying equipment
  • Making the workplace readily accessible and usable by persons with disabilities

If you do have a qualified disability, you must be able to perform the essential functions of your job. Otherwise, the employer has no obligation to hire or retain you.

You must also be able to meet the employer’s requirements regarding education, experience, skills or licenses to perform the essential functions of the position. However, an employer cannot deny you a position for the inability to perform nonessential tasks.

When applying for a job, the prospective employer may not ask you about your disability. But they can ask whether you are able to handle the essential tasks of the position with accommodations or without them.

The employer may not ask you to undergo a medical examination unless all employees in your job category are required to do so. Also, the employer may not use the results of an examination to reject you unless they are necessary for the job’s function.

For further questions regarding the employer obligations to disabled individuals, it is best a consult an attorney well versed in ADA law.


This blog is written and published by Laufman & Napolitano, LLC