ADA Frequently Asked Questions Knowledge Base - Employer

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Essential functions are the basic job duties.

ADA Regulations say that the following things should be taken into consideration when determining whether a job function is essential:

  • The employer’s judgment about which functions are essential;
  • Job descriptions that were written before a job was posted;
  • The amount of time spent performing the function;
  • The consequences of not requiring the person to perform the function;
  • The terms of a collective bargaining agreement; and
  • The work experience of others who have had, or currently hold, the same or similar positions.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. Some parts of the ADA didn’t go into effect until after that date to give entities time to comply with the law, but those compliance deadlines have passed.

Additional information on the history and background on the law is available on the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division website at: https://www.ada.gov/2010_regs.htm.

Yes. The ADA defines qualified to mean a person who meets legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that s/he holds or seeks, and who can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. Requiring the ability to perform "essential" functions assures that an individual with a disability will not be considered unqualified simply because of inability to perform marginal or incidental job functions. If the individual is qualified to perform essential job functions except for limitations caused by a disability, the employer must consider whether the individual could perform these functions with a reasonable accommodation. If a written job description has been prepared in advance of advertising or interviewing applicants for a job, this will be considered as evidence, although not conclusive evidence, of the essential functions of the job.

It is important to remember that in the context of the ADA, “disability” is a legal term rather than a medical one. Because it has a legal definition, the ADA’s definition of disability is different from how disability is defined under some other laws, such as for Social Security Disability related benefits.

The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on that person’s association with a person with a disability.

Major life activities are those functions that are important to most people’s daily lives. Examples of major life activities are breathing, walking, talking, hearing, seeing, sleeping, caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, and working. Major life activities also include major bodily functions such as immune system functions, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

The ADA is a comprehensive civil rights law. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government programs, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

Actually, what you might have heard called the “new ADA” is really called The ADA Amendments Act – or the ADAAA. After the ADA was originally passed in 1990, cases started being filed and ending up in courts. Some were appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Rulings by the Supreme Court, as well as lower courts, began to narrow the definition of disability. Whether a person had a disability in order to sue became the focus of most disputes under the ADA. Congress never intended for it to be that way. The focus of the ADA was supposed to be on access and accommodation, not on whether the person really had a disability. Congress had not foreseen the ways in which the courts would narrowly interpret, and ultimately change, the definition.

So the ADAAA was passed in 2008 and essentially overturned those Supreme Court cases that narrowed the definition of disability. Congress made clear that the definition must be “construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals” with disabilities. So rather than this being a “new ADA,” it really is just going back to the way Congress meant the ADA to be when it was first written and passed in 1990.

The ADA is divided into five sections called “titles.” Each title covers a different area. Title I covers employment. Title II covers state and local government programs. Title III covers places of public accommodation. Title IV covers telecommunications. Title V has several miscellaneous provisions that cover things like retaliation and attorney fees.

According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data, approximately 54 million Americans have a disability.

Yes, the ADA definition of disability includes mental, as well as physical, impairments.

I’ll give you the “lawyer answer” – it depends. All people who meet the ADA definition of disability are covered by the ADA in general, but they still may not have rights under particular sections of the ADA. For example, there is a section of the ADA that deals only with employment discrimination. If a person with a disability is not employed and is not seeking employment, then that person would not necessarily be covered by that part of the ADA, although the person would be covered by other parts of the ADA.

Sure. A man, who is in line for a promotion, has a history of cancer treatment, although his cancer is in remission. He is not given the promotion because his bosses are worried that, if his cancer returns, he won’t be able to do the job. He does not, at this point, meet the first part of the definition of disability because he does not have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. However, based on his “record of” a disability, he is being discriminated against.

“Regarded as” means that the person either:

  • Has an impairment that does not substantially limit a major life activity;
  • Has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity only as a result of the attitudes of others toward them; or
  • Does not have any impairment, but is treated by an entity as having an impairment.

Sure. A man, who is in line for a promotion, has a history of cancer treatment, although he is now free of cancer. He is not given the promotion because his bosses are worried that, if his cancer returns, he won’t be able to do the job. He does not, at this point, meet the first part of the definition of disability because he does not have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. However, based on his “record of” a disability, he is being discriminated against.

“Record of” means that the person has a history of, or has been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, even though the person does not currently have a disability.  For example, a person who undergoes treatment for cancer then returns to work. Although the cancer may not be in remission, they have a record of having had it.

An employer is not required to make an accommodation if it would 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 a number of factors. These factors include the nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size, resources, nature, and structure of the employer's operation.

Undue hardship is determined on a case-by-case basis. Where the facility making the accommodation is part of a larger entity, the structure and overall resources of the larger organization would be considered, as well as the financial and administrative relationship of the facility to the larger organization. In general, a larger employer with greater resources would be expected to make accommodations requiring greater effort or expense than would be required of a smaller employer with fewer resources.

If a particular accommodation would be an undue hardship, the employer must try to identify another accommodation that will not pose such a hardship. Also, if the cost of an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer, the individual with a disability should be given the option of paying that portion of the cost which would constitute an undue hardship or providing the accommodation.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), when an individual decides to request an accommodation, the individual or his/her representative must let the employer know that s/he needs an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a medical condition. There is no need to mention the ADA or use the phrase “reasonable accommodation.”

Requests for reasonable accommodation do not have to be in writing and can be requested in a face-to-face conversation or using any other method of communication. Employers may choose to write a memo or letter confirming the employee’s request or may ask the employee to fill out a form or submit the request in written form.  However, the employee may want to put the request in writing even if the employer does not require it. Sometimes it is useful to have a paper trail in case there is a dispute about whether or when the accommodation was requested.

Example A: An employee tells her supervisor, "I'm having trouble getting to work at my scheduled starting time because of medical treatments I'm undergoing." This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.

Example B: A new employee, who uses a wheelchair, informs the employer that her wheelchair cannot fit under the desk in her office. This is a request for reasonable accommodation.

Incorrect Example C: An employee tells his supervisor that he would like a new chair because his present one is uncomfortable. Although this is a request for a change at work, his statement is insufficient to put the employer on notice that he is requesting reasonable accommodation. He does not link his need for the new chair with a medical condition.

While an employer cannot ignore the initial request, this request does not necessarily mean that the employer is required to provide the change. A request for reasonable accommodation is the first step in an informal, interactive process between the employee and the employer. In some instances, before addressing the merits of the accommodation request, the employer needs to determine if the individual's medical condition meets the ADA definition of "disability," a prerequisite for the individual to be entitled to a reasonable accommodation.

Instead of providing a list of impairments that would “consistently,” “sometimes,” or “usually not” be disabilities, the regulations provide the ‘nine rules of construction’ to help determine what impairments constitute a disability. By applying those rules, the regulations state there will be some impairments that virtually always constitute a disability. The regulations also provide a list of examples of impairments that should easily be concluded to be disabilities.  Included in this list of examples are deafness, intellectual disability, autism, epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair, post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Sources: EEOC Final Rule Implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and Fact Sheet on the EEOC’s Final Regulations Implementing the ADAAA.   Links to these documents can be found at: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/index.cfm.

Complaints regarding alleged disability discrimination in the workplace that occurred on or after July 26, 1992 may be filed with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or designated State human rights agencies. Available remedies may include hiring, reinstatement, promotion, back pay, front pay, restored benefits, reasonable accommodations, attorneys' fees, expert witness fees, and court costs. Compensatory and punitive damages also may be available in cases of intentional discrimination or where an employer fails to make a good faith effort to provide a reasonable accommodation.  A charge must be filed within 180 calendar days from the date that the alleged discrimination took place. The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. A state’s designated human rights agency should be consulted to determine if the extended filing deadline applies. Your regional ADA Center can assist you in finding your state human rights agency

The ADA prohibits discrimination based on relationship or association in order to protect individuals from actions based on assumptions that their relationship to a person with a disability would affect their job performance, and from actions caused by bias or misinformation concerning certain disabilities. For example, this provision would protect a person whose child has a disability from being denied employment because of an employer's assumption that the applicant would be unreliable, using excessive leave, to care for the child. Employees may still be held to the same conduct and standards as all others, and can be expected to complete work as usual. The employer is not obligated to provide reasonable accommodations related to the child, given that it is not the employee with the disability.

The relationship or association provision also protects an individual who is affiliated with a specific disability-related organization For example, if the employee volunteers at an HIV clinic, they would be protected under the ADA from a discriminatory employment action motivated by that relationship or association with the volunteer organization.

Only injured workers who meet the ADA's definition of an "individual with a disability" will be considered disabled under the ADA, regardless of whether they satisfy criteria for receiving benefits under workers' compensation or other disability laws. A worker also must be "qualified, " with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to be protected by the ADA. Work-related injuries do not always cause physical or mental impairments severe enough to "substantially limit" a major life activity. Many on-the-job injuries cause temporary impairments which heal within a short period of time with little or no long-term or permanent impact. Therefore, many injured workers who qualify for benefits under workers' compensation or other disability benefits laws may not be protected by the ADA. An employer must consider work-related injuries on a case-by-case basis to know if a worker is protected by the ADA. Note that some states may have different recognition of "disability," "temporary disability" and who might receive workers' compensation benefits. It likely would be beneficial to speak with the state Department of

An employer may not inquire into an applicant's workers' compensation history before making a conditional offer of employment. After making a conditional job offer, an employer may inquire about a person's workers compensation history in a medical inquiry or examination that is required of all applicants in the same job category. However, even after a conditional offer has been made, an employer cannot require a potential employee to have a medical examination solely because they learn of past workers' compensation injuries. Also, an employer may not base a decision to hire based on an applicant's workers' compensation history. However, an employer may refuse to hire, or may discharge an individual, who is not currently able to perform a job without posing a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others, if the risk cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.

An employer may refuse to hire or may fire a person who knowingly provides a false answer to a lawful post-conditional job offer inquiry about his or her condition or workers' compensation history.

An employer also may submit medical information and records concerning employees and applicants (obtained after a conditional job offer) to state workers' compensation offices and "second injury" funds without violating ADA and HIPAA confidentiality requirements.

The ADA does not override health and safety requirements established under other federal laws even if a standard adversely affects the employment of an individual with a disability. If a standard is required by another federal law, an employer must comply with it and does not have to show that the standard is job related and consistent with business necessity.

For example, employers must conform to health and safety requirements of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However, an employer still has the obligation under the ADA to consider whether there are reasonable accommodations, consistent with the standards of other federal laws, that will prevent exclusion of qualified individuals with disabilities without violating the standards of those laws. If an employer can comply with both the ADA and another federal law, then the employer must do so.

The ADA does not override state or local laws designed to protect public health and safety, except where such laws conflict with ADA requirements. If there is a state or local law that would exclude an individual with a disability from a particular job or profession because of a health or safety risk, the employer still must assess whether a particular individual would pose a "direct threat" to health or safety under the ADA standard. If such a "direct threat" exists, the employer must consider whether it could be eliminated or reduced below the level of a "direct threat" by reasonable accommodation. An employer cannot rely on a state or local law that conflicts with ADA requirements as a defense to a charge of discrimination.

They may be. While a current illegal user of drugs is not protected by the ADA if an employer acts on the basis of such use, a person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection. Alcoholism is an impairment, and if it substantially limits a major life activity (e.g., learning, concentrating, interacting with others, caring for oneself) it will constitute a disability. An alcoholic may be person with a disability and protected by the ADA if s/he is qualified to perform the essential functions of the job. An employer may be required to provide an accommodation to an alcoholic, (e.g. a flexible schedule to enable the employee to attend counseling appointments).

However, an employer can discipline, discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol adversely affects job performance or conduct. An employer also may prohibit the use of alcohol in the workplace and can require that employees not be under the influence of alcohol.

Yes. A test for the illegal use of drugs is not considered a medical examination under the ADA; therefore, employers may conduct such testing of applicants or employees and make employment decisions based on the results. The ADA does not encourage, prohibit, or authorize drug tests.

If the results of a drug test reveal the presence of a lawfully prescribed drug or other medical information, such information must be treated as a confidential medical record.

A tax credit is available to employers with gross receipts not exceeding $1,000,000 or that had no more than 30 full-time employees during the preceding tax year when they provided reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities in the previous year. An eligible small business may take a tax credit of up to $5,000 per year for accommodations made to comply with the ADA. The credit is available for one-half the cost of "eligible access expenditures" that are more than $250 but less than $10,250.

A full tax deduction, up to $15,000 per year, also is available to any business for expenses of removing qualified architectural or transportation barriers. Expenses covered include costs of removing barriers created by steps, narrow doors, inaccessible parking spaces, restroom facilities, and transportation vehicles. Additional information discussing the tax credits and deductions is contained in the Department of Justice's ADA Tax Incentive Packet for Businesses available from the ADA Information Line. Contact information is on page 30. Information about the tax credit and tax deduction can also be obtained from a local IRS office.

Any disability-related information, such as reasonable accommodation requests, must be maintained by an employer in a separate, confidential file; not in a personnel file. This file will not follow the employee if they leave their current job. If a charge of disability-related discrimination is filed or an action is brought by EEOC, an employer must save all personnel records related to the charge until final disposition of the charge.

The ADA requires that employers post a notice describing the provisions of the ADA. It must be made accessible, as needed, to individuals with disabilities. A poster is available from EEOC summarizing the requirements of the ADA and other Federal legal requirements for nondiscrimination for which EEOC has enforcement responsibility. EEOC also provides guidance on making this information available in accessible formats for people with disabilities.

EEOC has developed several resources to help employers and people with disabilities understand and comply with the employment provisions of the ADA. These resources are all available online.

Resources include:

 A Technical Assistance Manual that provides "how-to" guidance on the employment provisions of the ADA as well as a resource directory to help individuals find specific information.

 A variety of brochures, books.

 A phone line with specialists at EEOC headquarters to answer questions and availability of local field offices

Beginning on March 15, 2011, under Titles II and III of the ADA, the definition of a service animal is: "A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks directly related to the person’s disability." 

Examples of service animal tasks include:

--Guiding a person who is blind.

--Pulling a wheelchair.

--Alerting a person who has a seizure disorder.

--Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability.

--Assisting persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors

--Providing a safety check or a room search for a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

An animal that provides only emotional support, comfort, therapy, or crime prevention is not considered a service animal under the ADA. A service animal is a working animal; not a pet. Laws similar to the ADA, as well as local states; counties; and cities, may have different and more broad definitions of "service animal." Check with your local ADA Center.

No. Individuals who currently engage in the illegal use of drugs are specifically excluded from the definition of an individual with a disability protected by the ADA when the employer takes action on the basis of their illegal drug use.

Yes. The ADA permits employers to exclude individuals who pose a direct threat -- i.e., a significant risk of substantial harm -- to the health or safety of the individual or of others, if that risk cannot be eliminated or reduced below the level of a "direct threat" by reasonable accommodation.

However, an employer may not simply assume that a threat exists. ; the employer must establish through objective, medically supportable methods that there is The determination that an individual poses a significant risk of substantial harm must be based on an individualized assessment of the individual's current ability, based on the most current medical knowledge and/or on the best available objective evidence.

By requiring employers to make individualized judgments based on reliable medical or other objective evidence rather than on generalizations, ignorance, fear, patronizing attitudes, or stereotypes, the ADA recognizes the need to balance the interests of people with disabilities against the legitimate interests of employers in maintaining a safe workplace.

An employer can establish attendance and leave policies that are uniformly applied to all employees, regardless of disability, but may not refuse leave needed by an employee with a disability if other employees get such leave.

An employer also may be required to make adjustments in leave policy as a reasonable accommodation. The employer is not obligated to provide additional paid leave, but accommodations may include leave flexibility and unpaid leave.

A uniformly applied leave policy does not violate the ADA because it has a more severe effect on an individual because of his/her disability. However, if an individual with a disability requests a modification of such a policy as a reasonable accommodation, an employer may be required to provide it, unless it would impose an undue hardship.

An employer may not ask or require a job applicant to take a medical examination before making a job offer. It cannot make any pre-offer inquiry about a disability or the nature or severity of a disability. An employer may, however, ask questions about the ability to perform specific job functions and may, with certain limitations, ask an individual with a disability to describe or demonstrate how s/he would perform these functions.

An employer may condition a job offer on the satisfactory result of a post-offer medical examination or medical inquiry if this is required of all entering employees in the same job category. A post-offer examination or inquiry does not have to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.

However, if an individual is not hired because a post-offer medical examination or inquiry reveals a disability, the reason(s) for not hiring must be job-related and consistent with business necessity. The employer also must show that no reasonable accommodation was available that would enable the individual to perform the essential job functions, or that accommodation would impose an undue hardship. A post-offer medical examination may disqualify an individual if the employer can demonstrate that the individual would pose a "direct threat" in the workplace (i.e., a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others) that cannot be eliminated or reduced below the "direct threat" level through reasonable accommodation. Such a disqualification is job-related and consistent with business necessity. A post-offer medical examination may not disqualify an individual with a disability who is currently able to perform essential job functions because of speculation that the disability may cause a risk of future injury.

After a person starts work, a medical examination or inquiry of an employee must be job-related and consistent with business necessity. Employers may conduct employee medical examinations where there is evidence of a job performance or safety problem that they reasonably believe is caused by a medical condition, examinations required by other federal laws, return-to-work examinations when they reasonably believe that an employee will be unable to do his job or may pose a direct threat because of a medical condition, and voluntary examinations that are part of employee health programs.

Information from all medical examinations and inquiries must be kept apart from general personnel files as a separate, confidential medical record, available only under limited conditions.

Tests for illegal use of drugs are not medical examinations under the ADA and are not subject to the restrictions of such examinations.

Federal contractors and subcontractors who are covered by the affirmative action requirements of section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 may invite individuals with disabilities to identify themselves on a job application form or by other pre-employment inquiry, to satisfy the section 503 affirmative action requirements. Employers who request such information must observe section 503 requirements regarding the manner in which such information is requested and used, and the procedures for maintaining such information as a separate, confidential record, apart from regular personnel records.

A pre-employment inquiry about a disability is allowed if required by another Federal law or regulation such as those applicable to disabled veterans and veterans of the Vietnam era. Pre-employment inquiries about disabilities may be necessary under such laws to identify applicants or clients with disabilities in order to provide them with required special services.

No. The ADA does not require employers to develop or maintain job descriptions. However, a written job description that is prepared before advertising or interviewing applicants for a job will be considered as evidence along with other relevant factors. If an employer uses job descriptions, they should be reviewed to make sure they accurately reflect the actual functions of a job. A job description will be most helpful if it focuses on the results or outcome of a job function, not solely on the way it customarily is performed. A reasonable accommodation may enable a person with a disability to accomplish a job function in a manner that is different from the way an employee who does not have a disability may accomplish the same function.

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Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable an applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to assure that an individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities.

Examples of reasonable accommodation include making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by an individual with a disability; restructuring a job; modifying work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; providing qualified readers or interpreters; or appropriately modifying examinations, training, or other programs. Reasonable accommodation also may include reassigning a current employee to a vacant position for which the individual is qualified, if the person is unable to do the original job because of a disability even with an accommodation. However, there is no obligation to find a position for an applicant who is not qualified for the position sought. Employers are not required to lower quality or quantity standards as an accommodation; nor are they obligated to provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.

The decision as to the appropriate accommodation must be based on the particular facts of each case. In selecting the particular type of reasonable accommodation to provide, the principal test is that of effectiveness, i.e., whether the accommodation will provide an opportunity for a person with a disability to achieve the same level of performance and to enjoy benefits equal to those of an average, similarly situated person without a disability. However, the accommodation does not have to ensure equal results or provide exactly the same benefits.

An employer is only required to accommodate a "known" disability of a qualified applicant or employee. The requirement generally will be triggered by a request from an individual with a disability, who frequently will be able to suggest an appropriate accommodation. Accommodations must be made on an individual basis, because the nature and extent of a disabling condition and the requirements of a job will vary in each case. If the individual does not request an accommodation, the employer is not obligated to provide one except where an individual's known disability impairs his/her ability to know of, or effectively communicate a need for, an accommodation that is obvious to the employer. If a person with a disability requests, but cannot suggest, an appropriate accommodation, the employer and the individual should work together to identify one. There are also many public and private resources that can provide assistance without cost.

The individual with a disability requiring the accommodation must be otherwise qualified, and the disability must be known to the employer. In addition, an employer is not required to make an accommodation if it would 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 a number of factors. These factors include the nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size, resources, nature, and structure of the employer's operation. Undue hardship is determined on a case-by-case basis. Where the facility making the accommodation is part of a larger entity, the structure and overall resources of the larger organization would be considered, as well as the financial and administrative relationship of the facility to the larger organization. In general, a larger employer with greater resources would be expected to make accommodations requiring greater effort or expense than would be required of a smaller employer with fewer resources.

If a particular accommodation would be an undue hardship, the employer must try to identify another accommodation that will not pose such a hardship. Also, if the cost of an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer, the individual with a disability should be given the option of paying that portion of the cost which would constitute an undue hardship or providing the accommodation.

The employer's obligation under title I is to provide access for an individual applicant to participate in the job application process, and for an individual employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of his/her job, including access to a building, to the work site, to needed equipment, and to all facilities used by employees. For example, if an employee lounge is located in a place inaccessible to an employee using a wheelchair, the lounge might be modified or relocated, or comparable facilities might be provided in a location that would enable the individual to take a break with co-workers. The employer must provide such access unless it would cause an undue hardship.

Under title I, an employer is not required to make its existing facilities accessible until a particular applicant or employee with a particular disability needs an accommodation, and then the modifications should meet that individual's work needs. However, employers should consider initiating changes that will provide general accessibility, particularly for job applicants, since it is likely that people with disabilities will be applying for jobs. The employer does not have to make changes to provide access in places or facilities that will not be used by that individual for employment-related activities or benefits.

No. An employer is not required to reallocate essential functions of a job as a reasonable accommodation.

Yes. Accommodations may be needed to assure that tests or examinations measure the actual skills, aptitudes, or other factors the test purports to measure rather than reflect limitations caused by the disability. Tests should be given to people who have sensory, speaking, or manual impairments in a format that does not require the use of the impaired skill, unless it is a job-related skill that the test is designed to measure.

An employer can hold employees with disabilities to the same standards of production/performance as other similarly situated employees without disabilities for performing essential job functions, though employees with disabilities may be entitled to reasonable accommodations in order to meet such standards.

An employer also can hold employees with disabilities to the same standards of production/performance as other employees regarding marginal functions unless the disability affects the person's ability to perform those marginal functions. If the ability to perform marginal functions is affected by the disability, the employer must provide some type of reasonable accommodation such as job restructuring but may not exclude an individual with a disability who is satisfactorily performing a job's essential functions.

No, only readily achievable alternative steps must be undertaken.

The cost of incorporating accessibility features in new construction is less than one percent of construction costs. This is a small price in relation to the economic benefits to be derived from full accessibility in the future, such as increased employment and consumer spending.

All alterations that could affect the usability of a facility must be made in an accessible manner to the maximum extent feasible. For example, if during renovations a doorway is being relocated, the new doorway must be wide enough to meet the new construction standard for accessibility.

When alterations are made to a primary function area, such as the lobby of a bank or the dining area of a cafeteria, an accessible path of travel to the altered area must also be provided.

The bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving that area must also be made accessible. These additional accessibility alterations are only required to the extent that the added accessibility costs do not exceed 20% of the cost of the original alteration. Elevators are generally not required in facilities under three stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless the building is a shopping center or mall; the professional office of a health care provider; a terminal, depot, or other public transit station; or an airport passenger terminal.

See the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design for more information regarding alterations: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAstandards.htm

It means "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."

Appropriate auxiliary aids and services for individuals with hearing loss may include:

  • qualified interpreters on-site or through video remote interpreting (VRI) services;
  • notetakers;
  • real-time computer-aided transcription services;
  • written materials; exchange of written notes;
  • telephone handset amplifiers;
  • assistive listening devices;
  • assistive listening systems;
  • telephones compatible with hearing aids;
  • closed caption decoders;
  • open and closed captioning, including real-time captioning;
  • voice, text, and video-based telecommunications products and systems, including text telephones (TTYs), videophones, and captioned telephones, or equally effective telecommunications devices;
  • videotext displays;
  • accessible electronic and information technology;
  • or other effective methods of making aurally delivered information available to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Appropriate auxiliary aids and services for individuals who are blind or have low vision may include:

  • qualified readers;
  • taped texts;
  • audio recordings;
  • Brailed materials and displays;
  • screen reader software;
  • magnification software;
  • optical readers;
  • secondary auditory programs (SAP);
  • large print materials;
  • accessible electronic and information technology;
  • or other effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

A wheelchair is a manually operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability for the main purpose of indoor, or of both indoor and outdoor, locomotion.  Individuals with mobility disabilities must be permitted to use wheelchairs and manually powered mobility aids, i.e., walkers, crutches, canes, braces, or other similar devices designed for use by individuals with mobility disabilities, in any areas open to pedestrian traffic.

An OPDMD is any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines that is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion, whether or not it was designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities. OPDMDs may include golf cars, electronic personal assistance mobility devices, such as the Segway® Personal Transporter (PT), or any mobility device that is not a wheelchair, which is designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes. Covered entities must make reasonable modifications in their policies, practices, or procedures to permit individuals with mobility disabilities to use OPDMDs unless the entity can demonstrate that the class of OPDMDs cannot be operated in accordance with legitimate safety requirements adopted by the entity.

The title I employment provisions apply to private employers with 15 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor unions, agents of the employer and joint management labor committees.

The ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It applies to recruitment, advertising, tenure, layoff, leave, fringe benefits, and all other employment-related activities.

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A qualified individual is a person who meets legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that s/he holds or seeks, and who can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. Requiring the ability to perform "essential" functions assures that an individual with a disability will not be considered unqualified simply because of inability to perform marginal or incidental job functions. If the individual is qualified to perform essential job functions except for limitations caused by a disability, the employer must consider whether the individual could perform these functions with a reasonable accommodation. If a written job description has been prepared in advance of advertising or interviewing applicants for a job, this will be considered as evidence, although not conclusive evidence, of the essential functions of the job.

Employment discrimination is prohibited against individuals with disabilities. This includes applicants for employment and employees. An individual is considered to have a "disability" if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability also are protected.

The first part of the definition makes clear that the ADA applies to persons who have impairments and that these must substantially limit major life activities.  There are two non-exhaustive lists of examples of major life activities: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others, and working.

Major life activities also include the operation of major bodily functions, including functions of the immune system, special sense organs and skin, normal cell growth, digestive, genitourinary, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, and reproductive functions.

Examples of specific impairments that should easily be concluded to be disabilities include: deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, partially or completely missing limbs, mobility impairments, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.

The second part of the definition protecting individuals with a record of a disability would cover, for example, a person who has recovered from cancer or mental illness.

Under the third part of the definition, a covered entity has regarded an individual as having a disability if it takes an action prohibited by the ADA (e.g., failure to hire, termination, or demotion) based on an individual’s impairment or on an impairment the covered entity believes the individual has, unless the impairment is transitory (lasting or expected to last for six months or less) and minor.

No. An employer is free to select the most qualified applicant available and to make decisions based on reasons unrelated to a disability. For example, suppose two persons apply for a job as a typist and an essential function of the job is to type 75 words per minute accurately. One applicant, an individual with a disability, who is provided with a reasonable accommodation for a typing test, types 50 words per minute; the other applicant who has no disability accurately types 75 words per minute. The employer can hire the applicant with the higher typing speed, if typing speed is needed for successful performance of the job.