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Disability Employment Discrimination - What Does the ADA Require?

Disability Employment Discrimination - What Does the ADA Require?


Updated May 24, 2009

Disability employment discrimination is prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA also requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for eligible people with disabilities who work in covered workplaces. What types of accommodations does the ADA require? Reasonable accommodations are modifications and adaptations employers provide such as:
  • Ensuring that buildings and other facilities are accessible such as with ramps, automatic door openers, or other appropriate means to make them usable by employees with disabilities;
  • Making changes in job responsibilities, schedules, or reassignment;
  • Purchasing adaptive equipment, assistive technology;
  • Changing examinations, adapting training materials, practices and policies; and
  • Using interpreters or text reading software.
  • Employers may not ask job applicants about their disability, its nature, or the severity of the disability. However, employers may ask about an applicant's ability to perform a specific job function.
  • Employers may require medical examinations before a candidate is hired. However, the examination must be a typical part of the employment process for all candidates and not just the person with a disability and must be directly related to the job functions only.
  • Employers are not permitted to retaliate against a person with a disability who attempts to assert his rights under the ADA, for filing a discrimination charge, or participating in any litigation under the ADA.
It is important to note, however, that there are some limitations on what employers are required to do to accommodate people with disabilities:
  • Employers are not required to provide accommodations if it would cause undue hardship on the business.
  • Employers do not have to lower the standards of their product or service quality.
  • Employers do not have to purchase materials or devices that are for the employee's personal use only. Employers are not required to purchase a disabled individual's glasses or hearing aids.
  • Employers are not required to accommodate illegal drug use or alcoholism. Employers may test employees and applicants for use of illegal drugs regardless of disability status.
Where can I file charges against an employer for disability employment discrimination?

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