Submitted by admin on Fri, 08/15/2008 - 10:21
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”) prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
The ADA is a federal law that is applicable to Massachusetts residents and employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations. The ADA's nondiscrimination standards also apply to certain federal sector employees. The ADA defines an individual with a disability is someone who: (1) Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) Has a record of such an impairment; or (3) Is regarded as having such an impairment.
A “qualified employee” or applicant with a disability is an individual who, with or without “reasonable accommodation,” can perform the essential functions of the job in question.
Reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants include, but are not limited to, the following examples: (1) Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities; (2) Job restructuring, modifying work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position; (3) Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies, and providing qualified readers or interpreters. However, an employer is only required to make a reasonable 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.
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. An employer is not required to lower quality or production standards to make an accommodation; nor is an employer obligated to provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.
The ADA also prohibits employers from asking job applicants about the existence, nature, or severity of a disability. Employers may ask about the applicant’s ability to perform specific job functions. A job offer may be conditioned on the results of a medical examination, but only if the examination is required for all entering employees in similar jobs. Medical examinations of employees must be job related and consistent with the employer's business needs. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on disability or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under the ADA. (Submitted by Stark & Shimer, LLC, of North Andover.)
For more information or to post a question, visit our MA Employment Law Discussion Forum.