Approximately 20% of U.S. adults have a disability, according to the CDC.1 For the millions of disabled Americans, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, made it unlawful to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability.2 The law also prohibits discrimination in state and local government services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications. That said, many states have similar or more expansive laws.
The types of entities covered under the ADA include: private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations and labor management committees.3
You are protected against job discrimination under the law if you have a disability and are qualified to do a job. The ADA defines a disability as any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, including, but not limited to, hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, reading, bending, communicating, and caring for oneself.4
Of course, you must be qualified to perform the essential functions or duties of a job, with or without reasonable accommodation. Under the law, qualified for a job means that you meet the employer’s requirements for the job, such as education, experience, skills or licenses. It also means that you can perform the essential functions of the job. No employer can refuse to hire you because your disability prevents you from performing the non-essential duties of the job. While an employer cannot ask you about the nature or severity of your disability, he or she can make disability-related inquiries when it is job-related and consistent with business necessity.5
Employers must make reasonable accommodation for disabled workers, including providing or modifying equipment or devises, job restructuring, modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, adjusting examinations, training materials or policies, providing readers and interpreters, and making the workplace readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities. An employer may be able to avoid a reasonable accommodation if it can be shown that it would require significant difficulty or expense or would otherwise cause an undue hardship on the employer.
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2019-91491 Exp. 12/21