The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities by eliminating barriers to their participation in many aspects of life, as well as in the workplace. Though the law is very lengthy and can sometimes seem overwhelming to employers, the basis is simple and reinforces our message that all people are able and should be treated as such.
Below are some simplified explanations of some common phrases and evaluation processes practiced by the ADA. However, this does not cover every aspect of the ADA. For detailed information, please visit http://www.jan.wvu.edu/links/adalinks.htm
Employers Covered by the Title I of the ADA
The Title I employment provisions apply to private employers, State and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions. Employers with 25 or more employees were covered starting July 26, 1992, when Title I went into effect. Employers with 15 or more employees were covered two years later, beginning July 26, 1994.
According to the ADA, the term "disability" means: a) A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; b) a record of such impairment; or c) being regarded as having such an impairment.
The ADA defines "mental impairment" to include "any mental or psychological disorder such as...emotional or mental illness." Examples: major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.
An employer is required to make an accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would not impose an "undue hardship" on the operation of the employer's business. Reasonable accommodations may include:
Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
Job restructuring, modifying work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position;
Acquiring or making adjustments to equipment, modifying examinations, training materials, or policies, and providing qualified readers or interpreters.
Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as an employer's size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation.
Disclosure of Disability
Unless an applicant asks for reasonable accommodations, an employer may not ask questions about the applicant's disability history on a job application or during the interview process.