In what ways does the Americans with Disabilities Act protect job applicants?

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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 protect job applicants with disabilities from discrimination during the hiring process. The Acts also state that applicants with disabilities must be allowed reasonable accommodations so they can access application materials and participate in interviews and other hiring activities.

Some examples of potential accommodations include providing materials in alternate formats, offering sign language interpreters, providing assistive technology for computer access, and changing interview locations. Although the situation is rare, an employer does not have to provide a specific accommodation if it would require significant difficulty or expense when all sources of funding are considered.

The ADA applies to private employers with fifteen or more employees and to state and local governments. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the employment provisions (Title I) of the ADA.

The EEOC maintains a fact sheet entitled Job Applicants and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Topics covered in this publication include the following:

  • how and when to request a reasonable accommodation during the application and/or interview process
  • examples of disability-related questions that are prohibited during interviews and on applications
  • an overview of what is meant by the phrase "able to perform the essential functions of a job"
  • a description of what type of questions an employer may ask of applicants with obvious disabilities, such as blindness or loss of a limb

Last update or review: January 22, 2013