Discrimination and Accommodations Policies in the Workplace
Enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) grants people with disabilities rights to fair housing, education, public transportation, public accommodations, telecommunications and employment. Businesses are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and must make reasonable accommodations for recruits and workers. ADA covers businesses, organizations and government agencies that employ 15 or more workers, labor unions and employment agencies.
Definition of Disability Under the ADA
To qualify for ADA protection, the worker must have a medical condition that meets the definition of “disability,” including:
- A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- A history of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- Regarded as having a disability by others
Because the ADA does not specifically name impairments that are covered by the legislation, the line as to what constitutes a disability can sometimes be up for debate. The main factor is whether the medical condition places substantial limitations on a major life activity.
Businesses are prohibited from discriminating against workers with disabilities when making employment decisions, such as:
- Recruitment and hiring
- Benefits, including health and retirement
- Training opportunities
- Work conditions
- Shifts, projects or assignments
In addition, businesses are responsible for harassment of individuals with disabilities and must respond to grievances and take action to stop harassment and discrimination by coworkers, supervisors and clients.
The cornerstone of the ADA is the reasonable accommodation provision. A business is required to alter processes or physical conditions to allow a person with a disability, who is able to perform the essential functions of the job, to apply for a job and do the work.
A reasonable accommodation might include:
- Changing the employee’s physical workstation or altering equipment used to perform job tasks
- Acquiring equipment or personnel to assist with the performance of job duties
- Restructuring the position to exclude nonessential functions that are made difficult because of the disability
- Reassigning an existing employee to a vacant position
- Modifying the employee’s work or training schedule
- Allowing for leave that is consistent with company policies and adheres to the FMLA
An employer is not required to make accommodations that are an undue hardship in light of the business’s size, function, structure and financial resources. Nor is an employer required to lower the standards for performance to accommodate a person who cannot fulfill the job duties with reasonable accommodations. In addition, an employer is not required to pay for personal aids to help a person with a disability perform the job.
Learn About Rights and Obligations Under the ADA
Gunterfirm reviews business policies and makes recommendations about remaining in compliance with the ADA. We also handle disputes regarding discrimination and reasonable accommodation complaints. Call our Naples/ Fort Myers employment and labor firm at 239.334.7017 or contact us online to schedule your free initial case evaluation.