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Americans with Disability Act (ADA)

March 06, 2008

Synposis:

The ADA discrimination against “qualified individuals with disabilities.” This includes applicants for employment and employees. An individual is considered to have a “disability” if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability also are protected.

The first part of the definition makes clear that the ADA applies to persons who have impairments and that these must substantially limit major life activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working. An individual with epilepsy, paralysis, HIV infection, AIDS, a substantial hearing or visual impairment, mental retardation, or a specific learning disability is covered, but an individual with a minor, nonchronic condition of short duration, such as a sprain, broken limb, or the flu, generally would not be covered.

The second part of the definition protecting individuals with a record of a disability would cover, for example, a person who has recovered from cancer or mental illness.

The third part of the definition protects individuals who are regarded as having a substantially limiting impairment, even though they may not have such an impairment. For example, this provision would protect a qualified individual with a severe facial disfigurement from being denied employment because an employer feared the “negative reactions” of customers or co-workers.

Who is covered:

A qualified individual with a disability is a person who meets legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that s/he holds or seeks, and who can perform the oeessential functionsî of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. Requiring the ability to perform “essential” functions assures that an individual with a disability will not be considered unqualified simply because of inability to perform marginal or incidental job functions. If the individual is qualified to perform essential job functions except for limitations caused by a disability, the employer must consider whether the individual could perform these functions with a reasonable accommodation. If a written job description has been prepared in advance of advertising or interviewing applicants for a job, this will be considered as evidence, although not conclusive evidence, of the essential functions of the job.

Administration:

The U.S. Department of Justice provides information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through a toll-free ADA Information Line. This service permits businesses, State and local governments, or others to call and ask questions about general or specific ADA requirements including questions about the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

ADA specialists are available Monday through Friday from 9:30 AM until 5:30 PM (eastern time) except on Thursday when the hours are 12:30 PM until 5:30 PM.

Spanish language service is also available.

Official Website: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm
For general ADA information, answers to specific technical questions, free ADA materials, or information about filing a complaint, call:
800 – 514 – 0301 (voice)
800 – 514 – 0383 (TTY)


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