Rights and Responsibilities of Employees and Employers

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability in employment. To be protected from discrimination in employment under Title I of the ADA, an individual must have a substantial impairment that impacts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, caring for oneself, working or learning.

The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment practices such as:

  • recruitment
  • hiring
  • firing
  • promotion
  • job assignments
  • training
  • leave
  • lay-off
  • benefits

An individual with a disability must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments that permit the individual to participate in the application process, perform essential job requirements, and provide equal access to the benefits and privileges afforded to employees without disabilties. Examples of reasonable accommodations include the use of readers or sign language interpreters, equipment modifications or assistive technolgy devices, and flexible work schedules.

The law requires that employers with fifteen or more employees make reasonable accommodations in the workplace for employees with disabilities. Accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis and may not be required when costs create an undue hardship or expense. Reasonable accommodations must also be made to allow individuals with disabilities to participate in the application process.

In order to receive accommodations the individual with a disability must disclose information about his or disability. The person with the disability is the best source of information regarding the accommodations they may need.

The Employment Office staff do not provide legal advice. Consult an attorney, your regional Office of Civil Rights, or Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center, or other community service for guidance.

More information about the ADA and your responsibilities as an employer can also be found at the US Department of Justice.