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Protection & Accommodations for Disabled Employees & Applicants

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

ADA/ADAAA is divided into five titles that relate to different areas of public life. Title I is focused on employment.

For the puposes of assessing eligibility for reasonable accomodations, an individual is considered to have a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.

A physical impairment is any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the body systems (i.e. neurological, musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, immune, circulatory, hemic, lymphatic, skin, endocrine)

A mental impairment is any mental or psychological disorder, including intellectual disabilities, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, specific learning disabilities.

Impairments can be disabilities even if the impairment is temporary, episodic or in remission.

Major life activities are those functions that are important to most people’s daily lives. Examples of major life activities include but are not limited to walking, talking, seeing, caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, concentrating, interacting with others, lifting and working.

There are three categories of reasonable accommodations.

  • Modifications or adjustments that are needed during the hiring process
    • For example, an interpreter for the interview
  • Modifications or adjustments to the work environment or to the manner or
    circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed
    • For example, access to an automatic door, removing non-essential functions or screen reading software or leave
  • Modifications or adjustments that enable the enjoyment of equal benefits and privileges of employment
    • For example, accessible parking or accessible breakroom

All accommodations are aimed at permitting the employee to perform the essential functions of their job. There is not a comprehensive list of accommodations that are reasonable under the ADA. Each request is analyzed based on the particular needs of the applicant/employee as well as the facts and circumstances of their job.

Other Helpful Resources

Job Accommodation Network - JAN

US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - EEOC