Employment Rights for the Disabled
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upholds the employment rights for the disabled.
It makes it illegal to discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities.
This covers all employers with 15 or more employees including state and local government offices.
It applies to all aspects of employment including recruitment, termination, promotion and compensation and benefits.
Qualified Individual with disability
A qualified individual with disability refers to applicants or employees with a disabling condition who has the skills, experience and education to fulfill the duties required in a position with or without reasonable accommodation.
The ADA defines a disabled individual as someone who:
* Has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities
* Has record of having such condition
* Is regarded as someone having such a condition
Under the ADA, a qualified individual with disability has a right to:
* Have an equal opportunity to apply and work in positions that they are qualified
* Have an equal opportunity to be promoted
* Have equal access to employment benefits that are given to other employees
* Not be harassed because of their condition
Under ADA, employees may request some reasonable accommodation from the employer to help them fulfill their duties and to help them enjoy equal employment opportunities.
Examples of reasonable accommodations are:
* Modifying existing facilities to be more accessible to disabled employees.
* Modification of work schedule, job restructuring or reassignment to a vacant position.
* Adjusting or modifying equipments and devices, examinations, policies, training materials.
* Providing readers or interpreters.
However, if the accommodation will cause the employer undue hardships, then he is not required to approve the request.
Employers can prove that the requested accommodation is an undue hardship if it:
* Provides significant expense considering business size, financial resources and operations structure
* If the accommodation steps on other employee's rights
Medical inquiries/Examinations and Drug/Alcohol Testing
Employers are prohibited from inquiring or testing about the nature, severity and existence of the employee or applicant's condition.
All medical examinations should be job related and consistent with all employees and business needs. However, drugs and alcohol testing is not considered as a medical examination.
As a result employees and applicants who are engaging in the illegal use of drugs and alcohol will not be protected under the ADA.
Employers should hold employees and applicants with disabilities, who are proven to hold or use illegal drugs and/or are alcoholics, to the same standards as other employees.
The ADA also protects employees, not only those with disabilities, from any acts of retaliation because they:
* Opposed practices and policies that exhibit discrimination based on a person's disability
* Filed for a discrimination lawsuit
* Participated and testified in a disability discrimination investigation and litigation
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the enforcing agency of the ADA.
For help in reporting any discrimination cases, consult with an employment law attorney immediately.
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Published by: Mark Dacanay
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