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Understanding more about your rights under the ADA - II

In a previous post, we began discussing how those employers who engage in highly questionable or even discriminatory conduct do so at their own peril given that there are federal discrimination laws expressly empowering victimized job applicants and employees to seek legal redress.

By way of example, we began exploring the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the landmark law designed to protect disabled people from employment discrimination. In today's post, our second in the series, we'll continue taking a closer look at who exactly the ADA is designed to protect.

To recap, the ADA protects job applicants and employees from discrimination if they meet the following conditions:

  1. They are disabled
  2. They are qualified to perform the essential duties or functions of the job

Regarding this second point, in order to be considered qualified, a person must pass the threshold requirement of satisfying the core requirements for the job, such as education, licensure, skill level and experience.

If this is the case, the person must also be able to perform the essential duties or functions of the job either with or without reasonable accommodation.

What this means for prospective hires is that it's illegal for employers to refuse to offer a disabled person a job on the basis of their being unable to perform non-essential job duties. Indeed, all that matters is that they are able to execute the core job duties either on their own or through the assistance of a reasonable accommodation.

As for reasonable accommodations, these are job-related or work environment adjustments undertaken by an employer to enable a disabled, and otherwise qualified employee or job applicant to take part in the application process, perform essential job duties or equalize the overall employment experience.

Some of the more common examples of reasonable accommodations -- which an employer is legally obligated to provide unless they can demonstrate that it would pose an undue hardship (i.e., requiring significant cost or expense) -- include:

  • Modification of equipment, devices, workstations and workplaces
  • Modification of policies, procedures, examinations
  • Modification of work schedules
  • Modification of work duties

We will continue examining this topic in future posts.

Please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you believe that an employer has discriminated against you based on your disability.

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